Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Liked More Than I Expected

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate) - I'm trying to read more non-fiction and this essay is breathtaking. I knew it would be excellent, but wasn't expecting it to be as accessible as it was - the perfect read for anyone wanting to know more about feminism.

Poppy's Place series by Katrina Charman and Lucy Truman (Stripes) - I'm not generally a big fan of animal books but this won me over with the wonderful author-illustrator team. Katrina's warm, sweet stories are complemented perfectly by Lucy's super-cute drawings.

God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems by Ishara Deen (Deeya Publishing) - I was drawn to this by the description of it as "A Muslim Nancy Drew", being a big fan of that detective when I was younger. This is an interesting mystery but where it shines is the portrayal of lead character Asiya's relationship with her family, which was great to read.

Russell's Attic series by SL Huang - A self-published one which I wasn't sure about but which I absolutely loved; this is an incredibly exciting action series where the main character - Cas Russell, whose mathematical skill is so (superhumanly?) great that she can dodge bullets, calculate trajectories, and generally avoid death in incredible ways - is a favourite of mine.

We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen (Vintage) - Anything over 400 pages needs to be incredible to keep my attention; Jensen's seafaring epic weighs in at 700 plus and kept me absolutely gripped. Outstanding.

Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka (Vintage) - I don't actually read that many adult novels generally, and hadn't read anything from a Sri Lankan author before this. In addition, cricket isn't a sport I'm generally interested in, but this sounded interesting enough to take a look at and the narrator's phenomenal voice completely blew me away - a truly stunning read.

A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master (Bloomsbury) - I was expecting to like this when I read it - it was one of the earliest MGs I reviewed for the Bookbag - but wasn't expecting to fall in love quite so hard with it; Master creates a great set of characters and the setting, in India just prior to Partition, is outstanding.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Faber and Faber) - I read The Girl Savage, Katherine Rundell's debut, and thought it was a beautifully-written book but wasn't keen on the characters, so I wasn't sure whether to try her second. I was won over by the amazing reviews I was seeing and it absolutely lived up to them - a truly gorgeous MG with brilliant characterisation, especially that of main character Sophie and her foster father Charles. One of my all-time favourites (along with Katherine's third book, The Wolf Wilder.)

Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh (Crown Books in the USA) - I've read lots of short stories this year and have enjoyed some collections a lot; however this is one of the very few I've read where I would say EVERY story was very good or better. Bookended by masterpieces by Matt de la Peña and Walter Dean Myers, the quality barely drops at all.

Mama Can't Raise No Man by Robyn Travis (OWN IT!) - As mentioned, I don't read that many adult novels but was sold on this by a friend telling me how wonderful it was, and by reading the first few pages which gripped me completely. Told as letters to and from Duane, a young black man in prison, it tells an utterly compelling story. The characters all have outstanding voices and I stayed up until 1:30 am this morning to finish it so that I could put it in this list.

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