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Top Ten Tuesday – featuring Laura Lam

Right, we had our wrist slapped for not crediting The Broke and the Bookish for this meme last week (although we have credited them in previous TTT posts and we do know that it is very much their creation!) So thanks to them for providing the inspiration. Today Laura Lam is here to talk about the ten books languishing on her TBR pile that she is desperate to get to!

For my Top Ten Tuesday I plan to take a look at some of the books on my TBR list that I’m really looking forward to. For this post, I’ve stuck to books from people I don’t know, as a book written by friends could fill many Top Ten Tuesday posts! I’ve a mix of YA and adult books here.

1. Amber House – Kelly Moore Tucker Reed, Larkin Reen

Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that’s been in her family for three centuries. She’s never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she’s never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls.

But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds–and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house’s past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house’s secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.

When I first came across this summary on Goodreads, I went ‘damn!’, as it has some similarities with a book I want to write, but then I realized mine is really quite different. So then I added it to my TBR list. I love creepy haunted house stories and so this sounds right up my street and I can’t wait to read it! I also don’t think I’ve ever read a book by three authors before.

2. Among Others – Jo Walton

Startling, unusual, and yet irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled–and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…

I’ve been meaning to read Jo Walton for a while now, and this book has gotten so much praise left, right, and centre. Walton’s articles on tor.com are additionally always a good read. It looks fantastic and I love the idea of interweaving aspects of autobiography with fantasy, as at the end of the day I think it’s what a lot of writers do subconsciously and through many layers of metaphor.

3. The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.

Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .

Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .

By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.

I read Oryx and Crake a few years ago and absolutely loved it, as I found the postulations about the future both tongue-in-cheek and deeply realistic and frightening. I’ve read a lot of Margaret Atwood, as she’s one of my favourite authors and her prose can make me weep with envy. This is a companion novel set in the same time period as Oryx and Crake that follows different characters. I have a signed copy of this one. I met Margaret Atwood when she came to speak in Aberdeen at the Word Festival and she was marvelous. And then I promptly fangirled like a silly, tongue-tied fangirl when I met her. I babbled on about how much I liked her poem about a cat *facepalm*.

4. Little Star – John Ajvide Lindqvist

John Ajvide Lindqvist has been crowned the heir apparent to Stephen King by numerous sources, and he is heralded around the globe as one of the most spectacularly talented horror writers working today. His first novel, Let the Right One In, is a cult classic that has been made into iconic films in both Sweden and in the United States. His second novel, Handling the Undead, is beloved by horror fans everywhere. His third novel, Harbor, is a masterpiece that draws countless comparisons to Stephen King. Now, with Little Star, his most profoundly unsettling book yet, Lindqvist treads previously unmarked territory.

A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home, and he and his wife raise the girl in their basement. When a shocking and catastrophic incident occurs, the couple’s son Jerry whisks the girl away to Stockholm to start a new life. There, he enters her in a nationwide singing competition. Another young girl who’s never fit in sees the performance on TV, and a spark is struck that will ignite the most terrifying duo in modern fiction.

Little Star is an unforgettable portrait of adolescence, a modern-day Carrie for the age of internet bullies, offensive reality television, and overnight You Tube sensations. Chilling, unnerving, and petrifying, Little Star is Lindqvist’s most disturbing book to date.

I don’t read much horror. But I loved Let the Right One In a lot—it was so disturbing and the characterization was fantastic. I also really adored the Swedish version of the film. The American one was all right, but they completely glossed over the “twist” which I found really upsetting. But anyway, I’m really looking forward to this book by Lindqvist because I’m sure it’ll be frightening fascinating to read. I just might have to leave the lights on for it.

5. Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

I’ve still never read anything by Marillier, and I really must change this soon as I have a gut feeling she’s going to be an author I really enjoy. I’ve seen so many rave reviews and it seems like a great fantasy with a fairy tale feel.

6. Some Kind of Fairy Tale – Graham Joyce

It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phonecall from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery.

He arrives at his parents’ house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she’s back, tired, dirty, dishevelled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent travelling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim.

But her stories don’t quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young woman who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter’s parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara’s one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it’s as if she’s off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family…

I think I’ll end up reading this one right around Christmas, as that’s when it’s set. I love the idea that a girl has gone missing under mysterious circumstances and then waltzes back in, but when she comes back she’s changed. It seems like a darker, adult fairy tale and looks really interesting.

7. Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter

Sophi Fevvers — the toast of Europe’s capitals, courted by the Prince of Wales, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec — is an aerialiste extraordinaire, star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover Fevvers’s true identity: Is she part swan or all fake? Dazzled by his love for Fevvers, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser joins the circus on its tour. The journey takes him — and the reader — on an intoxicating trip through turn-of-the-century London, St. Petersburg, and Siberia — a tour so magical that only Angela Carter could have created it.

After writing a book in a circus, am I sick of books set in the circus? No way! Even though they have a lot of the same motifs, each one I’ve read has told a very different story. I’ve never read any Angela Carter, which horrifies my friend who wrote about her in her dissertation. So I plan to rectify this soon with a novel set in a turn-of-the-century circus with elements of the Swan Princess, maybe? Oh it looks so good.

8. And All the Stars – Andrea K Höst

Come for the apocalypse.

Stay for cupcakes.

Die for love.

Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

I have a confession to make: I don’t think I’ve ever read a self-published book. I know! It’s not on purpose—for years I never paid attention to the publisher of books, but I’ve just not been recommended any that really jumped out at me. After this one had a stunning review on the Book Smugglers, I decided I’d give this one a try at some point. The blurb sounds really intriguing, although I’m confused about the cupcakes.

9. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn – Alison Goodman

Also Known As: Two Pearls of Wisdom, Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye, and Eon (All the same book just published with different publishers)

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragon-eye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon’s affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon’s desperate lie comes to light, readers won’t be able to stop turning the pages…

An Asian-inspired fantasy with a girl masquerading as a boy who’s trying to practice Dragon magic, which is forbidden to girls? SOLD. Seriously, the book sounds like it was written for me, and I’ll be getting to it as soon as I can. It also has really good reviews from a lot of the reviewers I respect and admire on Goodreads and some other blogs. So YAY!

10. Dreams Underfoot – Charles de Lint

Welcome to Newford. . . .

Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

Like Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale and John Crowley’s Little, Big, Dreams Underfoot is a must-read book not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life.

Another confession: I’ve still never read any Charles de Lint. *cowers in shame* I really will rectify this soon! I figured I’d start with the first Newford book. It seems amazing and A Winter’s Tale is one my favourite books.

Ten very varied books, we think you’ll agree! On the run-up to Christmas, what is on your TBR?

Amanda

Comments

Allison
Reply

Daughter of the Forest is such a good book. It is filled with magical storytelling. I love it! :)

Christian Schoon
Reply

Am a big Atwood fan (her Handmaid’s Tale loomed up into thought more than once during our past election here….) – this list reminds me to pick up Oryx & Crake. Thanks!

Vonny McKay
Reply

Highly recommend ‘Daughter of the Forest’ and everything else by Marillier. She’s one of my favorite authors. Right up there with Robin McKinley and Patricia A. McKillip. :)

Cassie
Reply

I’ve been wanting to read all of Margaret Atwood’s novels forever, but I just don’t. It’s like I think they’ll exist forever so I definitely understand that pick! You’ve inspired me to get one from the library to start 2013 off!

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