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
- 1st November: Unlikeable Characters You Cannot Help But Love
- 8th November: Series I’d Like to Start/Catch up on/Finish
- 15th November: Favorite “Aww” Moments In Books
- 22nd November: Thankful Freebie: Books I Would be Thankful for the Time to Read!
- 29th November: Cosy Reads
- 6th December: Freebie: Books set in the Interwar Years
- 13th December: Books on my Winter 2022 TBR
It is with both joy – and not a little trepidation – that Christmas is suddenly looming. I have milk and groceries in my fridge that I can eat after the big day. The biting cold and occasional snow has given way to the far more seasonal rain and floods. Our Christmas tree is both up and decorated… and taking up an inordinate amount of our living room! And our next roast dinner? Christmas day!
And there is so much still to do…. mince pies, cookies, yule log, Christingle, presents… still got presents to buy! But Tom Gauld in The Guardian has some great advice about gifts and presents:
In fact, Tom Gauld is generally on the money when it comes to books and book buying:
Anyway, this week’s Top Ten list is, seasonally enough, books I wish Santa would leave for me… which is a little tricky: I do tend to treat myself to books far too often and my wife refuses to buy me any, arguing that I’ll already have read them! Which is true, but somehow misses the point: someone browsing a bookshop and thinking of me is a gift in itself regardless of the book finally bought; and books that I may have electronically or in audiobook format I will still enjoy as a physical copy too!
So this is the link to my wishlist, and these are the books that I would like to find under my Christmas tree on Sunday.
You Made A Fool of Death with Your Beauty, Akwaeke Emezi
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime:
Feyi is about to be given the chance to escape the City’s blistering heat for a dream island holiday: poolside cocktails, beach sunsets, and elaborate meals. And as the sun goes down on her old life our heroine also might just be ready to open her heart to someone new.
The only problem is, she’s falling for the one man she absolutely can’t have.
Going to be honest, romance is not my preferred genre – with some notable exceptions – but Emezi is an absolute must-read author and anything by them – Freshwater, Pet, The Death of Vivek Oji… – would be a delightful gift!
Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo
A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animal denizens lived quite happily . . .
And then the colonisers arrived, followed by a bloody War of Liberation. New hope came in the form of a charismatic horse who ruled and ruled and kept on ruling. For forty years he ruled, with the help of his elite band of Chosen Ones. Until one day, as he sat down to his Earl Grey tea and favourite radio programme, in came a new leader, a new regime. And once again the animals were full of hope.
Glory tells the story of a country seemingly trapped in a cycle as old as time. At the centre of the tumult is Destiny, a young goat who has returned to her homeland to bear witness to revolution. Her arrival sets off a chain of events that reminds the denizens, and us, that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it. And that history can be stopped in a moment.
Would love to find this under the Chrsitmas tree – love the re-working of Animal Farm into our age.
Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies, Maddie Mortimer
Something gleeful and malevolent is moving in Lia’s body, learning her life from the inside out. A shape-shifter. A disaster tourist. It’s travelling down the banks of her canals. It’s spreading.
When a sudden diagnosis upends Lia’s world, the boundaries between her past and her present begin to collapse. Deeply buried secrets stir awake. As the voice prowling in Lia takes hold of her story, and the landscape around becomes indistinguishable from the one within, Lia and her family are faced with some of the hardest questions of all: how can we move on from the events that have shaped us, when our bodies harbour everything? And what does it mean to die with grace, when you’re simply not ready to let go?
I hear that there are tricks and playfulness with fonts here that make it challenging both electronically and in audio form – although the dual voices apparently works well – so possibly a book best read in paper form…
Sea of Tranquility, Emily St John Mandel
Lives separated by time and space have collided, and an exiled Englishman, a writer trapped far from home, and a girl destined to die too young, have each glimpsed a world that is not their own. Travelling through the centuries, between colonies on the moon and an ever-changing Earth, together their lives will solve a mystery that will make you question everything you thought you knew to be true.
Sounds intriguing and beautiful.
Siren Queen, Nghi Vo
“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill–but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.
But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes–even if that means becoming the monster herself.
Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.
I have been wanting to read Nghi Vo for the longest time, but other things keep getting in the way…
The Marriage Portrait, Maggie O’Farrell
The Marriage Portrait is a dazzling evocation of the Italian Renaissance in all its beauty and brutality.
Winter, 1561. Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara, is taken on an unexpected visit to a country villa by her husband, Alfonso. As they sit down to dinner it occurs to Lucrezia that Alfonso has a sinister purpose in bringing her here. He intends to kill her.
Lucrezia is sixteen years old, and has led a sheltered life locked away inside Florence’s grandest palazzo. Here, in this remote villa, she is entirely at the mercy of her increasingly erratic husband.
What is Lucrezia to do with this sudden knowledge? What chance does she have against Alfonso, ruler of a province, and a trained soldier? How can she ensure her survival.
Both this an Hamnet would be a delight, but of the two I am still to read this one! And I did love the poem My Last Duchess!
Shrines of Gaiety, Kate Atkinson
1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.
At the heart of this glittering world is notorious Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.
With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems.
Gorgeous book, currently reading it electronically but the formatting seems to have gone a bit to pot! Instead of speech marks and dashes – and Kate Atkinson likes her dashes! – my kindle is displaying A$e… irritating,,,
Deep Wheel Orcadia, Harry Josephine Giles
Astrid is returning home from art school on Mars, looking for inspiration. Darling is fleeing a life that never fit, searching for somewhere to hide. They meet on Deep Wheel Orcadia, a distant space station struggling for survival as the pace of change threatens to leave the community behind.
Deep Wheel Orcadia is a magical first: a science-fiction verse-novel written in the Orkney dialect. This unique adventure in minority language poetry comes with a parallel translation into playful and vivid English, so the reader will miss no nuance of the original. The rich and varied cast weaves a compelling, lyric and effortlessly readable story around place and belonging, work and economy, generation and gender politics, love and desire – all with the lightness of touch, fluency and musicality one might expect of one the most talented poets to have emerged from Scotland in recent years.
Hailing from Orkney, Harry Josephine Giles is widely known as a fine poet and spellbindingly original performer of their own work; Deep Wheel Orcadia now strikes out into audacious new space.
Sci fi, verse, Orkney dialect…. colour me intrigued and again I feel a paper edition would be better than an electronic version with its parallel translations.
Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky
Who will inherit this new Earth? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.
But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.
Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?
I enjoyed Shards of Earth and Eyes of the Void for what they are: good unapologetic space opera. Certainly, enjoyed them enough to embark on the Children of Time series.
A Prayer for the Crown Shy, Becky Chambers
After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home. They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.
Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?
Loved the quietness and calm of Psalm for the Wild Built and, although I have this electronically, would enjoy having both on my bookshelf.
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanen McGuire
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.
No matter the cost.
I find Seanan McGuire a little hit and miss… but equally this series has garnered a lot of love online and won an awful lot of awards….
How High We Go in the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu
Dr. Cliff Miyashiro arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue his recently deceased daughter’s research, only to discover a virus, newly unearthed from melting permafrost. The plague unleashed reshapes life on earth for generations. Yet even while struggling to counter this destructive force, humanity stubbornly persists in myriad moving and ever inventive ways.
Among those adjusting to this new normal are an aspiring comedian, employed by a theme park designed for terminally ill children, who falls in love with a mother trying desperately to keep her son alive; a scientist who, having failed to save his own son from the plague, gets a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects-a pig-develops human speech; a man who, after recovering from his own coma, plans a block party for his neighbours who have also woken up to find that they alone have survived their families; and a widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter who must set off on cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.
Sounds intriguing… does the world need a talking pig?
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.
Would love to read both this and the sequel, A Desolation Called Peace… part of my (somewhat arbitrary) decision to read more good quality science fiction.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
Sam and Sadie meet in a hospital in 1987. Sadie is visiting her sister, Sam is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there, but playing together brings joy, escape, fierce competition — and a special friendship. Then all too soon that time is over, and they must return to their normal lives.
When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – creating virtual worlds to delight, challenge and immerse, finding an intimacy in the digital realm that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars.
This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.
I keep hearing about this one, but there has been something about the cover and the blurb which has always put me off. And yet I am intrigued by the huge hype and support its getting, appearing on lots of Best Books of 2022 lists. Maybe this is a book I’d not buy myself but would read if given…
And may I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry – and safe and warm – Christmas with one last festive treat I light like to find under my Christmas tree:
Mistletoe and Murder, Robin Stevens
It’s Christmas, and the snow is falling in Cambridge, where the detective duo Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the festive period.
But Hazel’s hopes of relaxing amongst the beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms are dashed by the danger lurking in the dark stairwells of Maudlin College.
Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident.
At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place.
Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).
Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes
December 27: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection (What books did you get as presents this holiday season? Or what did you buy with gift cards?)
January 3: Favorite Books of 2022
January 10: Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023
January 17: Bookish Goals for 2023
January 24: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022 (If you didn’t read books by 10 new authors, share new-to-you authors whose books you added to your TBR in 2022. Get creative, if needed!)
January 31: Freebie