Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer 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.

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It really does feel like Summer has hit in the UK this weekend: barely have we finished grumbling about all that rain before we complain that the weather is too hot, that we have burned our white Celtic skin in the unexpected sunlight, that the mosquitoes are swarming and pollen is setting off hayfever…!

Anyway, before launching into this list, I thought I might review my progress on both my Spring and Winter TBR lists… It is not something I normally do for fear that it will reveal my failures! Although “failures” is not the right word: I am so much a mood reader that I pay scant attention to such things as TBRs anyway!

So with no more ado, let’s review Spring’s TBR List

Books from my list acquired: 10/10

Books from my list read: 2/10

Small Pleasures, Clare Chambers ★★★★
The Golden Rule, Amanda Craig ★★★

I am also claiming progress towards Slough House in that I began the series which led up to it with Slow Horses by Mick Herron ★★★★.

And looking at Winter’s TBR

Books from my list acquired: 13/13

Books from my list read: 4/13

The Survivors, Jane Harper ★★★★
Pine, Francine Toon ★★★★
Snow, John Banville ★★★★
Good Girl, Bad Blood, Holly Jackson ★★★★

I have begun both These Violent Delights (not sure I will return to it) and The Kingdoms (pretty sure I will return or start it again once I have time).

So – in the interests of full and frank disclosure – I do not view these lists as in any way binding or prescriptive! With a strike rate this year so far of 26%, I think that is clear enough!


Also, as I often do before these sorts of lists, these are the books that I am currently reading prior to any of those below:

  • One Last Stop, Casey Mcquiston
  • Camille, Pierre Lemaitre
  • For the Wolf, Hannah Witten

With no further ado, let us delve into this season’s list! These are books that are currently published that I would like to read over the summer months. Some, because they have summer feels; others, because they just look like great books; still others, because they are still there on the TBR from months gone by!

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

This book is going to be my reward for surviving a somewhat challenging year at work! It is resting my shelf waiting until I have the time to devote to it.

The Vanishing Half, Britt Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.

Like the Ishiguro, this appeared before – and the sense I get is that it is poised to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction (I may be wrong, I think the winner is announced this week!) and, although I did start reading it, I was not gripped immediately… many be with more time.

The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society–she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Now this is a gorgeous cover and, yes, that is what caught my eye – along with the strapline

Gatsby the way it should have been written–dark, dazzling, fantastical.

R. F. Kuang

A Study in Crimson, Robert J. Harris

A killer going by the name of ‘Crimson Jack’ is stalking the wartime streets of London, murdering women on the exact dates of the infamous Jack the Ripper killings of 1888.

In desperation Scotland Yard turn to Sherlock Holmes, the world’s greatest detective. Surely he is the one man who can sift fact from legend and track down Crimson Jack before he completes his tally of death.

I mean, this just looks like some good fun: Sherlock (shifted in time) and Jack the Ripper…? Yes please!

All Among The Barley, Melissa Harrison

The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, although the Great War still casts its shadow over the fields and villages around her beloved home, Wych Farm.

Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to document fading rural traditions and beliefs. For Edie, who must soon face the unsettling pressures of adulthood, the glamorous and worldly outsider appears to be a godsend. But there is more to the older woman than meets the eye.

It was an episode of BBC Radio 4’s BookClub that introduced me to this novel: it sounded fantastic! Embedded in a rural agricultural (and lost to time and history) community, confronting nationalism and fascism as well as modernity….

Ariadne, Jennifer Saint

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

It is no surprise to those who know me that this is a likely summer read: I do adore the classics having developed a fascination for mythology at an early as only a geeky teenager can, and having read Greek Tragedy at University. I mean, this is a great time of year because Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics is back with a new series – if slightly muted due to covid!

My only hestitation is that this is another feminist retelling of Greek myth after Circe and The Song of Achilles and The Silence of the Girls and A Thousand Ships… Am at a level of saturation with this genre?

At Night, All Blood Is Black, David Diop

Alfa and Mademba are two of the many Senegalese soldiers fighting in the Great War. Together they climb dutifully out of their trenches to attack France’s German enemies whenever the whistle blows, until Mademba is wounded, and dies in a shell hole with his belly torn open.

Without his more-than-brother, Alfa is alone and lost amidst the savagery of the conflict. He devotes himself to the war, to violence and death, but soon begins to frighten even his own comrades in arms. How far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend?

It won the International Booker this week and it is waiting on my bookshelf to be read… the opening pages are rather grim for the summer though and Diop does not shy away from the visceral, at a very literal level! But I love the iambic rhythm in the title… and have bought books with more tenuous reasons than that in the past!!

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip – malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.

But Nina’s life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina’s talent blossoms – as does her love for the great man.

I found Moreno-Garcia’s writing in Mexican Gothic powerful and muscular, which will make her more recent release deeply appealing… and the synopsis sounds deeply intirguing!

Started Early, Took My Dog, Kate Atkinson

A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a shocking impulse purchase. That one moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy’s humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.

Witnesses to Tracy’s outrageous exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie, who has returned to his home county in search of someone else’s roots. All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished.

I adore Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series and am still working my way up to the most recent, Big Sky. Nearly there now: Started Early… is book 4 or the (currently) 5 book series. And they are a series I don’t want to rush for fear of not having any more to read!

Box 88, Charles Cumming

1989. The Cold War will soon be over, but for Box 88, a top secret spying agency, the espionage game is heating up.

Lachlan Kite is sent to France to gather intelligence on the Lockerbie bombing. What he uncovers is terrifying…. 

2020: Kite has been taken captive and brutally tortured. He now has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France 30 years earlier – or watch his family die.

I have picked up a few espionage novels recently… and this has popped up on my social media radar alongside the Slow Horses series. The synopsis does not give much away…

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

And when a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?

As with the Kate Atkinson, this is a continuation of a series that I am behind the game with, as Book 4 – The Galaxy and the Ground Within – has now been released but it is a series which is nominally rich in science fiction but is also deeply human and uplifting. Perfect for a summer read!


So there you have my current and vague TBR for the summer. Six weeks without work! Six weeks of sunshine and reading – and a soon-to-be-eight-year-old to entertain! Please do comment with your suggestions, comments and recommendations: my TBR can always be added to, whether I get around to these or any others is in the stars!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

  • June 22: Bookish Wishes (My birthday is today, so celebrate with me by granting the wishes of your friends! This is a popular thing to do on Twitter, but today we’re blog hopping. List the top 10 books you’d love to own and include a link to a wishlist so that people can grant your wish. Make sure you link your wishlist to your mailing address [here’s how to do it on Amazon] or include the email address associated with your ereader so people know how to get the book to you. After you post, jump around the Linky and grant a wish or two if you’d like. Don’t feel obligated!)
  • June 29: Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2021
  • July 6: Reasons Why I Love Reading

26 comments

  1. I totally get the TBR ‘failure’ thing. Since I heard a Booktuber call it a ‘pile of possibilities’ instead, it’s really changed my thinking.

    I have an arc of These Violent Delights I still really need to give a go, and I just bought Ariadne, which looking forward to 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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