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 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!
This week’s TTT topic is Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.). This is such a great topic for me because I always have those go-to belove books that I always gush about and that are always perfect fits for other Top Ten Tuesday topics, etc. But there are so many other books that I’ve loved equally but have been very lax when it comes to showing them the love they deserve.
Some of the books I chose to spotlight this week are books I read and loved in my pre-blogger days and have neglected in favor of promoting newer, shinier reads. Others, however, are those newer and shinier reads and I don’t honestly know why I haven’t hyped them more because I really enjoyed them. That’s about to change now though…
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Books I Enjoyed But Don’t Give Enough Love To
(in no particular order)
History and fiction merge seamlessly in Tracy Chevalier’s luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Griet, the world of 1660s Holland comes dazzlingly alive in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings.
This was one of the works of historical fiction I ever read and I read it a few years before I started blogging. I had always thought the painting was lovely so it was interesting to see how it came about through the eyes of the painting’s actual subject, a 16-year old girl named Griet. I also loved the Holland setting. This is what I would call a quietly beautiful book, which is probably why it doesn’t scream at me to pay more attention to it. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway, lol.
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
I really enjoyed this book and I think I haven’t talked more about it because I was so late to the game in reading it. If you’re the last person in the world to read it, there’s no one else left to recommend it to. 🙂
One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages… maybe ever.
I’ve enjoyed every book by JoJo Moyes that I’ve read, but when it comes to talking about books I love, I seem always neglect One Plus One in favor of the more popular Me Before You. This one is definitely worth your time as well though.
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
The Goldfinch is a book I loved but don’t really talk about because it was such a super-hyped book when it came out and, again, I was late to the game reading it. It’s also a nearly 800-page brick of a book. That said, it’s still a fantastic read filled with complex characters and powerful themes. It may have taken me forever to read it, but it’s a book that has stuck with me ever since.
Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess-and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command-whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate-but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left.
Red Winter is a fantasy series that I started reading over the Christmas holidays this past year and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s another that I honestly have no idea why I haven’t promoted it more because it definitely deserves more love with its fabulous characters and unique use of Japanese mythology.
What if you had a second chance at first love?
Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.
Annika Rose likes being alone.
Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.
The Girl He Used to Know is an uplifting novel full of surprising revelations that keep you turning the page. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Gail Honeyman, Jill Santopolo and Sliding Doors.
This is another of those quietly beautiful stories that just get lost in the noise of my brain when I’m shouting out book recs. If you enjoy well-written second chance romances filled with characters you’ll become incredibly invested in, this is a great one.
A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.
I recently read and loved Ruta Sepetys’ latest work of historical fiction, but I feel like this is a book that is flying under the radar. It’s highly rated on Goodreads but I rarely hear anyone talking about it and of course I’ve never promoted it either. It’s a fascinating look at what life was like in Spain under the rule of a dictator and definitely a unique read for me since I tend to stick so closely to WWII and WWI historical fiction.
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.
In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.
This is definitely NOT a book I would recommend for reading while we’re facing the COVID-19 pandemic, but it really is a fantastic read. I haven’t talked much about it just because it is such a heart-wrenching story, but as soon as I finished it, I immediately ordered two more of Meissner’s books because I loved her storytelling so much.
Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.
To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
I did review Foundryside on my blog in 2018 and gave it a good review but I haven’t really talked about it much since. I’m reading the sequel right now and it’s just striking me all over again what a wonderful and unique fantasy it really is. I love the characters and the worldbuilding is truly stellar. And for those who have read it and are waiting on the sequel, let me say now that the story just gets better and better. I’m trying to hurry up and finish this blog post right now so that I can get back to reading it!
The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.
This is another beloved read from my pre-blogging days that I rarely mention now. My “review” from back when I read it describes it as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre all rolled into one book and for fans of Gothic lierature.
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