Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Winter 2020-2021 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:

Still so far behind with my reviews, but I am trying to keep up with TTT until I can catch up over the holidays. And I have three days to go before those holidays start! Not that I am counting or anything! Three days!

And what will I be reading over that holiday? I am currently reading the tome that is Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War, fourth in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive and another of his exquisitely crafted magic systems from the Cosmere.

And it is a chunky one: at 1232 pages it is a real doorstopper and quite a challenge to hold in physical form! According to Amazon

After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move.

Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

There is a lot of action at the start of the novel with a battle raging in Hearthstone, our hero Kaladin’s home town, between the Knights Radiant and the enemy Fused. And then the action slows right down as Sanderson tries to explore mental health issues – perhaps a little clumsily? Things seem to be heating up again, not I’ve reached the half way mark, though!

But this is not truly on my TBR list: it is a currently being read. So what is waiting in the wings? Well, there are so many more than ten, or even twenty, thanks to NetGalley, ARCs and sequels, as well as all those beautiful covers tat just beg to be picked up and read… It’s so unfair, like the universe WANTS me to stay in bed and read all of 2021!

So, here we go with some of the delights I have coming up.

These Violent Delights, Chloe Gong

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city in the grip of chaos. At its heart is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang – a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love . . . and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns – and grudges – aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

I did have a quick read of a couple of chapters of this one – the appeal of Romeo and Juliet in Shanghai was very tempting! I was a little surprised to be confronted by a monster in the river…. I fear I might want less Romeo and Juliet and more of Shanghai and the monster….

The Kingdoms, Natasha Pulley

The postcard has been held at the sorting office for ninety-one years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides.

Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter.

But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England, and not French.

And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly one hundred years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well.

Natasha Pulley can do very little wrong for me: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow and The Bedlam Stacks are all wonderful and evocative historical fantasy novels with M/M love in them and embedded in the same universe. The Kingdoms seems to be taking us to a different universe where Britain lost the Napoleonic Wars and is now French. High hopes!

We Are All Birds of Uganda, Hafsa Zayyan

1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.

The Survivors, Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that haunts him still resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

I requested this from NetGalley on the strength of loving The Dry and Force of Nature (why have I not reviewed that one – another for the backlog!) and am looking forward to another gripping psychological thriller.

How We Are Translated, Jessica Gaitán Johannesson

People say ‘I’m sorry’ all the time when it can mean both ‘I’m sorry I hurt you’ and ‘I’m sorry someone else did something I have nothing to do with’. It’s like the English language gave up on trying to find a word for sympathy which wasn’t also the word for guilt.

Swedish immigrant Kristin won’t talk about the Project growing inside her. Her Brazilian-born Scottish boyfriend Ciaran won’t speak English at all; he is trying to immerse himself in a Swedish
språkbad    language bath,
to prepare for their future, whatever the fick that means. Their Edinburgh flat is starting to feel very small.

As this young couple is forced to confront the thing that they are both avoiding, they must reckon with the bigger questions of the world outside, and their places in it.

Now this just sounded strange and innovative… and I love that quote about the English language!

Miss Benson’s Beetle, Rachel Joyce

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.
Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

This looks like a nice, relaxing, tender read for the new year: hopefully akin to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I still have fond memories of! I imagine this feeling right as the days start to stretch out and springtime feels just around the corner…

Pine, Francine Toon

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones

Ricky, Gabe, Lewis and Cassidy are men bound to their heritage, bound by society, and trapped in the endless expanses of the landscape. Now, ten years after a fateful elk hunt, which remains a closely guarded secret between them, these men and their children must face a ferocious spirit that is coming for them, one at a time. A spirit which wears the faces of the ones they love, tearing a path into their homes, their families and their most sacred moments of faith.

The Only Good Indians, charts Nature’s revenge on a lost generation that maybe never had a chance. Cleaved to their heritage, these parents, husbands, sons and Indians, these men must fight their demons on the fringes of a society that has no place for them.

What would the winter month be like without some dark sinister chillers? I remember finishing 2019 reading Starve Acre and loving it, so hopefully either Pine or The Only Good Indians can fill a similar creepy gothic fix!

Snow, John Banville

Following the discovery of the corpse of a highly respected parish priest at Ballyglass House – the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family – Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate.

Strafford faces obstruction from all angles, but carries on determinedly in his pursuit of the murderer. However, as the snow continues to fall over this ever-expanding mystery, the people of Ballyglass are equally determined to keep their secrets.

I remember reading and loving Banville – and his pseudonym Benjamin Black – although I’ve not read him for ages not since I began this blog. So with his new book it is time to rectify that!

Who They Was, Gabriel Krauze

This life is like being in an ocean. Some people keep swimming towards the bottom. Some people touch the bottom with one foot, or even both, and then push themselves off it to get back up to the top, where you can breathe. Others get to the bottom and decide they want to stay there. I don’t want to get to the bottom because I’m already drowning.

This is a story of a London you won’t find in any guidebooks.

This is a story about what it’s like to exist in the moment, about boys too eager to become men, growing up in the hidden war zones of big cities – and the girls trying to make it their own way.

This is a story of reputations made and lost, of violence and vengeance – and never counting the cost.

This is a story of concrete towers and blank eyed windows, of endless nights in police stations and prison cells, of brotherhood and betrayal.

This is about the boredom, the rush, the despair, the fear and the hope.

This is about what’s left behind.

I found the Man Booker Prize a little lacklustre this year: Love and Other Thought Experiments is still waiting to be finished half way through and I was underwhelmed by Such a Fun Age and whilst I am listening to Shuggie Bain as an audiobook and enjoying – is that the right word? – engaging with it, it has not blown me away. But I have a couple of the longlisted books still to read, so will probably give this one a try.

Good Girl, Bad Blood, Holly Jackson

Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore.
With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.
But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time EVERYONE is listening.
But will she find him before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed Jackson A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, as a YA crime novel and am looking forward to the sequel – as a relaxing post Christmas read perhaps. Glass of wine after dinner, half dozing in front of the fire….

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

Again, I picked this up having loved the first book in the series, Gideon the Ninth – who would have thought that necromancers could be so much fun, or sexy, or genuinely touching? I am looking forward to seeing more of how the world works in this one, as well as what Harrow’s locked tomb contains, although the blurb suggests that it may be another locked-room style.

A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine

In a war of lies she seeks the truth . . .

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire’s interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn’t accidental – and she might be next.

Now Mahit must navigate the capital’s enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths. And while she hunts for the killer, Mahit must somehow prevent the rapacious Empire from annexing her home: a small, fiercely independent mining station.

As she sinks deeper into an alien culture that is all too seductive, Mahit engages in intrigues of her own. For she’s hiding an extraordinary technological secret, one which might destroy her station and its way of life. Or it might save them from annihilation.

This one was recommended by a friend and sounds interesting. Science Fiction is not my usual genre – although I have been trying to explore it more this year, perhaps as an antidote to covid lockdowns – so we will see.

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!

FORTHCOMING TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:


December 22: Books I Hope Santa Brings
December 29: Favorite Books of 2020

January 5: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021
January 12: Resolutions/Hopes for 2021 (bookish or not!)
January 19: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To (You could take this opportunity to tell us what’s left on your seasonal TBRs from last year. Or books you were super excited about and then you didn’t get to them.)
January 26: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020 (If you didn’t read 10 new authors, that’s fine! Just do what you can.)

24 comments

  1. The Kingdoms is half on my list. There’s many things that can go so wrong with that book, but also many things that can go soooo right.

    Liked by 1 person

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