Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.
The rules are simple:
- Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
- Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
- Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
- Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.
This week’s topic is Winter 2018 TBR. My list covers books from my TBR pile, books from NetGalley publishing in January or February, and books I need to read for blog tour commitments in the New Year. In other words, this has been a really useful exercise to help me plan my January reading schedule and do a bit of rejigging of my December schedule!
The link from the book title will take you to the book’s entry on Goodreads. The purchase links to Amazon are provided for convenience only, not as part of any affiliate programme.
First up, two books I requested from NetGalley but haven’t yet got round to reading. I’ve heard great things about both of them and I’ve a feeling they might be contenders for the longlist for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (announced February/March time). I’m keen to read them to see if my hunch is correct.
All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison
From the author of Costa-shortlisted and Baileys-longlisted At Hawthorn Time comes a major new novel. Set on a farm in Suffolk just before the Second World War, it introduces a girl on the cusp of adulthood.
Fourteen-year-old Edie Mather lives with her family at Wych Farm, where the shadow of the Great War still hangs over a community impoverished by the Great Depression. Glamorous outsider Constance FitzAllen arrives from London, determined to make a record of fading rural traditions and beliefs, and to persuade Edie’s family to return to the old ways rather than embrace modernity. She brings with her new political and social ideas – some far more dangerous than others.
For Edie, who has just finished school and must soon decide what to do with her life, Connie appears to be a godsend. But there is more to the older woman than meets the eye. As harvest time approaches and the pressures mount on the entire Mather family, Edie must decide whose version of reality to trust, and how best to save herself from disaster.
A masterful evocation of the rhythms of the natural world and pastoral life, All Among the Barley is also a powerful and timely novel about influence, the lessons of history and the dangers of nostalgia.
Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller
By the Costa Award-winning author of Pure, a stunning historical novel with the grip of a thriller, written in richly evocative, luminous prose.
One rain-swept February night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain’s disastrous campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Spain.
Gradually Lacroix recovers his health, but not his peace of mind – he cannot talk about the war or face the memory of what happened in a village on the gruelling retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he sets out instead for the Hebrides, with the vague intent of reviving his musical interests and collecting local folksongs.
Lacroix sails north incognito, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: a vicious English corporal and a Spanish officer are on his trail, with orders to kill. The haven he finds on a remote island with a family of free-thinkers and the sister he falls for are not safe, at all.
Next, two books I’ll be reviewing as part of blog tours in January.
The Secret by Katharine Johnson
Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested, and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything.
Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher. But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.
Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds among the next generation.
A River in the Trees by Jacqueline O’Mahony
1919 – Hannah is nineteen years old and living on her family’s farm in West Cork. Her peaceful world is shattered forever by the eruption of the War of Independence, Ireland’s bid for freedom from Britain. Hannah’s family hide rebel soldiers in their attic, putting them in great danger from the Black and Tans who roam the countryside. An immediate connection between Hannah and O’Riada, the leader of this band of rebels, will change her life and that of her family forever.
2019 – Ellen is at a crossroads in her life: her marriage is in trouble, her career is over and she’s grieving the loss of a baby. After years in London, she decides to come home to Ireland to face the past she has always tried to escape. Her journey centres on an old house in the countryside, a house that used to belong to her family. Reaching into the past, she feels a connection to her aunt, the mysterious Hannah O’Donovan. But why won’t anyone in her family talk about Hannah? And how can this journey help Ellen put her life back together?
Pre-order A River in the Trees from Amazon UK
Next a book that has been in my pile of review copies for a while but which I’m determined to read in time for its publication in paperback in January.
Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell
Two young daredevil flyers confront ugly truths and family secrets during the U.S. internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, from the author of The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch.
Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada – Eagle and Crane – are the star attractions of Earl Shaw’s Flying Circus, a daredevil (and not exactly legal) flying act that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family’s belief that the Yamadas – Japanese immigrants – stole land that should have stayed in the Thorn family.
When Louis and Harry become aerial stuntmen, performing death-defying tricks high above audiences, they’re both drawn to Shaw’s smart and appealing stepdaughter, Ava Brooks. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour and one of Shaw’s planes mysteriously crashes and two charred bodies are discovered in it, authorities conclude that the victims were Harry and his father, Kenichi, who had escaped from a Japanese internment camp they had been sent to by the federal government. To the local sheriff, the situation is open and shut. But to the lone FBI agent assigned to the case, the details don’t add up.
Thus begins an investigation into what really happened to cause the plane crash, who was in the plane when it fell from the sky, and why no one involved seems willing to tell the truth. By turns an absorbing mystery and a fascinating exploration of race, family and loyalty, Eagle & Crane is that rare novel that tells a gripping story as it explores a terrible era of American history.
Finally, five books due to be published in January and February.
Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton
When Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.
Inside the Thorels’ tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress’s blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.
It is silk that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she strikes up a relationship with one of the journeyman weavers in her attic who teaches her to weave and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household.
Pre-order Blackberry & Wild Rose from Amazon UK
Nemesis (Tom Wilde #3) by Rory Clements
A race against time to unmask a Nazi spy.
In a great English house, a young woman offers herself to one of the most powerful and influential figures in the land – but this is no ordinary seduction. She plans to ensure his death . . .
On holiday in France, Professor Tom Wilde discovers his brilliant student Marcus Marfield, who disappeared two years earlier to join the International Brigades in Spain, in the Le Vernet concentration camp in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Wilde secures his release just as German tanks roll into Poland.
Meanwhile, a U-boat sinks the liner Athenia in the Atlantic with many casualties, including Americans, onboard. Goebbels claims Churchill put a bomb in the ship to blame Germany and to lure America into the war.
As the various strands of an international conspiracy begin to unwind, Tom Wilde will find himself in great personal danger. For just who is Marcus Marfield? And where does his loyalty lie?
Pre-order Nemesis (Tom Wilde #3) from Amazon UK
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
1686 – Iceland. An isolated, windswept land haunted by witch trials and steeped in the ancient sagas.
Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders. But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.
The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself? Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim . . .
Pre-order The Glass Woman from Amazon UK
The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan
Fifteenth century Italy, deep in the Tuscan countryside, adolescent Onoria is the sole survivor of a family massacre. Abandoned and alone in the forest, she meets the leader of a fierce band of soldiers who, mistaking her for a boy, takes her under his wing. Determined never to be vulnerable ever again, Onoria reinvents herself as a mercenary, leaving behind the identity one man saw fit to soil and discovering soldier Celavini along the way.
In Florence, ex-soldier now government law enforcer Celavini investigates two brutal murders that on first look seem to be crimes of passion. Convinced this hides a more sinister truth, Celavini digs further and is perturbed to discover a family heirloom from his past and a man using his dead brother’s name.
When it becomes clear that behind the murders lurks a menacing conspiracy, Celavini must revisit the turbulent past he shares with Onoria, reconciling himself to her so, together, they can lay the ghosts of their shared history to rest.
Pre-order The Phoenix of Florence from Amazon UK
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk amongst us…
In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.
Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.
As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.
Captivating and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores the rich world of servants and masters, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and unexpected love. Woven through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.
Pre-order The Night Tiger from Amazon UK