Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: Unreviewed books

I've kept this blog for three years now, but only in the last year have I been updating it regularly, posting reviews of most of my reading material - but not all. If I don't review a book, it doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't like it; on the contrary, there are several books I've loved so much that I just haven't been able to do them justice. In other cases, I feel that a review would be just an inferior rehash of the book's synopsis and a "This is great! Read it!"

Top Ten Tuesdays are a weekly blog feature held at The Broke and the Bookish, and this week the challenge is to list ten of the books we'd love to share with other bibliophiles, but which for one reason or another we haven't reviewed.

1. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. The story of a little girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Narrated by Death. Beautiful, eye-opening and heartbreaking.

2. The Help - Kathryn Stockett. This novel has recently been turned into a film which is now (USA) or soon (UK) showing in cinemas. Three women in 1960s Mississippi unite to challenge people not just to accept "the way things are" but to really think about their attitudes towards race, primarily, as well as class and gender.

3. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A Cult classic, written by two great names in modern fantasy, before they were really famous, Good Omens shows the bumbling efforts of Aziraphale (angel) and Crowley (an angel who did not fall so much as saunter vaguely downwards) to prevent Armageddon. Hilarious and quotable, with a brilliant cast of characters, Good Omens is fun to play "guess-who-wrote-which-bit" with. (Apparently even they aren't quite sure.)

4. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters. With deliberate parallels to Oliver Twist, this page-turner keeps you guessing and brings to life the murky underworld of Victorian England.

5. The Earth Hums in B Flat - Mari Strachan. A quirky family story set in 1950s Wales, told by an imaginative 12-year-old who takes it upon herself to investigate the disappearance of a local man, opening up more cans of worms than anyone could have foreseen.

6. Crow Lake - Mary Lawson. Another family story, this time Canadian. Not a lot really happens, to be honest, but it's a story with characterisation strong enough for that not to matter. A short read, maybe 200 pages or so, but one which really draws you into the family's world.

7. The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter fans will know of at least one of the fairy tales, as it is a critical part of the final novel. There are five fairy tales in all, simple but flawless - and one rather gruesome one! The book is enhanced by explanatory notes on each tale from Professor Albus Dumbledore himself, and his musings are typically whimsical yet philosophical.

8. The Company of Liars - Karen Maitland. The year is 1348, and a band of misfits travel across England, trying to avoid the Black Plague. Many are on the run, all have strange tales to tell, but can they trust each other? This book ended on a twist which led me to want to read it all over again, to see if the new knowledge would change the way I read it.

9. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton. Ms Morton has written three novels now, and has pretty well established a recogniseable pattern of family tales, linked through the generations. This doesn't mean her stories are formulaic, though. Far from it! The Distant Hours is a modern gothic tale with all the best parts of such a story: an old house, mysterious sisters bound together by their past, and at the heart of it all, another story.

10. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series - Alexander McCall Smith. This is a lovely, cosy series of books set in Botswana. Mma Ramotswe's cases may not be dramatic compared to a New York detective, but every one is taken seriously, because every case is important to the person who is asking for help. McCall Smith writes which such a love for the country and characters, and the series has a gentle, innocent feel to it that is hard to find in adult fiction nowadays. This is a series I go to for a light, feel-good read, and can easily get through one book in an afternoon or evening.


  1. What a list! I have read 7 of the books, and completely agree with how great they are. Crow Lake, Fingersmith, No 1 Ladies Detective Agengy, Beedle the Bard, - some of my favorite reads.

    Of the other three, I bought The Distant Hours last month, and I have The Earth Hums in B Flat on my radar. So, only The Company of Liars to request at the library, because clearly, your reading taste is impeccable.

  2. The Distant Hours has been on many peoples lists today ... well definitely have to check out the next time I'm at the library!

  3. A great list, The Book Thief and, The Help are wonderful books.


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