Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Books I Read With Colors in the Title

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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August 4: Books with Colors In the Titles

For this week’s topic I decided to go with the last ten I read with colors in the titles.

97801437861601. The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth-Shortly before the Terror of the French Revolution, Viviane, daughter of the Marquis de Ravoisier, falls for David, the landscape architect at her family’s chateau in Brittany. Though he returns her feelings, her father will never allow her to marry the young Welshman. When they’re parted, Viviane is forced to marry another, and joins the court of Louis XVI in Versailles, where she becomes a lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette. Meanwhile David joins a trip to China, with a British ambassador who hopes to open up trade with the east. Though his job in China is to get seeds, in Canton, David hears a fable of impossible love, called The Blue Rose. This inspires him to find Viviane again.

51hxtrvunwl._ac_uy218_2. Sapphire Skies by Belinda Alexandra– Natalya Azarova grew up privileged and happy in Stalin’s pre-war Russia. During WWII, she became one of Russia’s top fighter pilots, before her plane was shot down. No plane or body was ever found, but her reputation in Russia was tarnished by rumors that she was a German spy. Her lover, Valentin Orlov, does his best to combat these rumors and discover the truth of what happened to her. In his 80’s, in the year 2000,  the remains of her plane, along with her sapphire broach are discovered. But still no body. Meanwhile, the same year, Lily, the daughter of a Russian refugee in Australia, who works and works in Moscow, meets and old woman who may know the truth of what happened to Natalya all those years ago.

91i5spgjyyl._ac_uy218_3. Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller– Frances is a middle aged spinster in 1969, when she goes to Lytons, a recently sold British country estate, to catalog antiques. Her only companions are her colleague, Peter, and his wife, Cara. Frances finds herself enthralled with couple and the three become fast friends. But Peter and Cara have secrets that trap them, and may entrap Frances as well.

 

 

81vo0svb2l._ac_uy218_4. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith– This  is the fourth Cormoran Strike book. It begins when a young, mentally ill man named Billy, asks Cormoran to investigate a crime that he witnessed as a child. In spite of the man’s troubled mental state, Cormoran is worried enough to investigate further, even though Billy flees the agency in a panic. Along with his now partner, Robin, Cormoran sets of on an investigation that brings them from the streets of London, to Parliament and to a manor house in the country. I’ve got some not so positive feelings about the author at the moment (Galbraith is a pseudonym for JK Rowling) but if you like the Cormoran Stike series (which I do), you’ll probably like this one.

a1q86cjvzxl._ac_uy218_5.Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik– Miryem’s father is a hopelessly inept moneylender. So, desperate to do what he cannot, she takes over the business. She collects what she can from everyone. From one farmer, she takes the service of his daughter, Wanda, until his debt is paid off. Miryem also makes a boast that is overheard by the Staryk, magical, wintery creatures that control the forest lands. To protect her family, she must complete an impossible task. Meanwhile, Irina, daughter of a duke, is turned into a pawn in her father’s desire to gain power. All of these plots come together in a unique and complex Rumpelstiltskin retelling.

81njuluy7cl._ac_uy218_6. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -Set in Nigeria, this book tells the story of 15 year old Kambili and her older brother Jaja. Kambili and Jaja are wealthy and privileged. Their father is an important person in their local community, known for his generosity. But with his family, he is a religious fanatic and a tyrant. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent outside the city to stay with their aunt. Aunty Ifeoma is a progressive university professor whose home is a relaxed place of laughter and lightness. In her home, Kambili and Jaja experience life without their father’s oppressive presence for the first time. When they return to his house nothing can be the same again.

817roardvyl._ac_uy218_7. The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen– In The Emerald Circus, Jane Yolen includes stories about existing stories and historical events and people. The title story is about Dorothy Gale’s return to Kansas, seven years after the twister took her away (the delay was due to amnesia from a bump on the head.) In another story we read about a feminist labor organizer who travels to Neverland and leads the lost boy’s female counterparts in a strike. We see a geriatric Alice attempt to return to Wonderland one last time. In other stories Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe and Hans Christian Anderson all take center stage. Yolen also includes poems and notes about each story

81susx6ql-l._ac_uy218_8. White Hot Grief Parade by Alexandra SilberActress/singer/novelist/blogger Alexandra Silber turns her skills to memoir, in her most successful literary venture yet (IMHO anyway.) At the age of 17, Silber lost her father to cancer. This intimate memoir covers the year after that loss, during which her three best friends move in with her and her mother to help out. The household supports Silber and her mother through the most difficult period of their lives. Silber recalls the year in many forms, using “straight” prose to tell parts of her story and telling other parts in the form of a play, lists, puzzles and more. She offers us stories and snapshots of her life with her father, interwoven with the “now” of the text, exploring the year after his loss. This book is sad, but it’s surprisingly funny too. Much like the titular “parade” the emotions come one after another in this, sometimes with seemingly little logic. But we’re left with an understanding that’s ultimately hopeful: grief is the price we pay for love, and it’s worth it.

91jnmkvum3l._ac_uy218_9. The Ruby Brooch by Katherine Lowry Logan– This was the first in Logan’s Celtic Booch series.I haven’t read any of the others. Make of that what you will. Kit MacKlenna is the only survivor of a plane crash that killed her parents. Grief stricken, she discovers a legacy that includes a faded letter and a journal that reveals that Kit was abandoned as a baby- 160 years earlier. She is also left a blood spattered shawl, a locket with a portrait of a 19th century man inside, and a Celtic booch with magical powers. Kit decides to use that brooch to travel back in time and get some answers. Cullen Montgomery is a San Francisco lawyer, who seems familiar to Kit. He helps her join a wagon train headed West. But on the dangerous journey he becomes convinced that there’s something that Kit isn’t telling him. Like how can she save lives with medical knowledge no one else possesses? His accusations are dangerous. But the fact that she’s falling for him may be even more so.

51htvi6il._ac_uy218_10. The Blonde by Anna Godbersen– In 1949, Alexei Lazarey met Marilyn Monroe, before she was famous, at Schwab’s in Los Angeles. By the end of the day he got her signed with a talent agency, and the poor, unknown actress was on her way to being a household name. Ten years later, at the peak of her success, Alexei contacts her for repayment. His instructions to her are to find out something about the favorite for the Democratic nomination for President; John F. Kennedy. Something no one else knows. This book re-imagines history in a combination of biography, spy novel and love story.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2019

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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December 31: Favorite Books I Read In 2019

81hkqvsgyl._ac_uy218_ml3_1.The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern– About eight years ago I read Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel The Night Circus, and loved it. It was one of those rare books that you can get lost in as you read. Since then I’ve had my eye out for her follow up and it was finally released. The Starless Sea isn’t an easy read, but its one to savor . Once again Morgenstern has created a novel that lets the reader live in it. Yes there is a (confusing at times) plot and characters, but much likeThe Night Circus,  it’s the setting that will stand out in my memory. This book is a vivid, dreamlike, haunting experience. I reviewed it a little in this post.

81xr45udqkl._ac_uy218_ml3_2. Educated by Tara Westover– Tara Westover was 17 the first time she sat in a classroom. Raised by fundamentalist parents on a mountain in Idaho, Westover was taught to distrust established schools, hospitals and government. She was ostensibly homeschooled, but in reality that stopped once she’d learned to read, write, and do basic math. She was encouraged to try to educate herself enough to get into college by her older brother, and brave enough to take the leap when another older brother became abusive enough to be a serious threat to her safety. But Bringham Young University, and later Harvard and Cambridge, were a world away from the life she’d lived under the thumb of a mentally ill father. Trying to adjust to the change, finding a way to relate to her family, and construct her reality as an adult was where Westover’s education was truly tested. This book is shocking, haunting and thought provoking.

919qe25jntl._ac_uy218_ml3_81tljs7lr7l._ac_uy218_ml3_3. Circe and  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller– I discussed my response to these books a bit in this post. I’m not usually a fan of Greek mythology and Classics, but  Madeline Miller’s writing is vivid and compelling,  and the the characters are so human (even when technically they aren’t!) that its hard not to become invested. I loved both of these books and couldn’t decide which to put on my “best” list.

81svkiih7kl._ac_uy218_ml3_4. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware– Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway has been living hand to mouth since her mother’s death three years ago. She’s barely getting by when she gets a letter from a lawyer saying that her grandmother has recently died and left her money. Hal knows it’s a mistake: her grandmother died years ago. But she’s also desperate. She heads to Mrs. Westway’s Cornwall mansion to try to claim the inheritance. But when she arrives she discovers a family that may be more closely connected to her than she realizes. The estate comes with a lot of secrets, that might give Hal the family she’s always wanted, or might get her killed. This books was reminiscent of Agatha Christie and Daphne DuMaurier. It’s perfect for a cold winter night.

61azp3snool-_ac_us218_5. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar– This book is historical fiction with fantasy gorgeously brushing the edges. When shipping merchant, Jonah Hancock learns that one of his ship’s was sold in exchange for a mermaid, he finds himself thrust into a new life. He travels from London’s seedy underbelly to the finest drawing rooms of high society. His new life brings him to Angelica Neal, a courtesan, who finds that her destiny is entwined with Jonah’s and his mermaid.

51i6ln7tmul-_ac_us218_6. The Library Book by Susan Orlean– In the book, Orlean explores a 1986 fire that almost destroyed the Los Angeles Public Library, and may have been the result of arson. In the process, she also explores the city’s history, the library’s history and the importance of libraries in general. Reading this book gives an appreciation for libraries as community centers, educational institutions and one of the most uniquely democratic endeavors in the world. People often wonder if libraries still serve a purpose, or if they will one day be obsolete. Orlean’s book makes the case that they serve a vital and irreplaceable function every day.

513xypka1bl-_ac_us218_7.Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield- About ten years ago I read Diane Setterfield’s debut The Thirteenth Taleand was entranced. Once Upon A Riveris just as compelling but in it’s own way. Set in a pub by the Thames in the late 19th century, this book opens on a winter’s night when a badly injured, soaking wet man staggers into the pub, holding a little girl who appears to be dead. A local nurse saves his life and quickly realizes that the little girl is not dead (anymore?) but the girl is silent and the man can’t remember how they came to be in this situation and has no idea who the girl is. One local family thinks that she’s the daughter who was kidnapped years earlier. Another thinks she’s the long lost daughter of their prodigal son. A middle aged woman is inexplicably convinced that the 4 year old child is her sister… .

91hggynrxrl._ac_uy218_ml3_ 81b4caedtml._ac_uy218_ml3_8.The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch by Katharine Arden– Once again I couldn’t choose between two contenders from the same author. But in this case both are from the same series. It’s rare that a series will start off well and just get better as it goes, but that’s exactly what happened with Arden’s Winternight trilogy. It started well with The Bear and the Nightingale but then Arden upped her game with the sequels!

81eiilgia0l._ac_uy218_ml3_9.I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’ Farrell– In seventeen essays O’Farrell recounts her life via near death experiences. These experiences range from the dramatic (a plane that almost crashed) to the more mundane (a stressful medical test) but each one prompted O’Farrell to reflect and evaluate her life. Naturally an eight year old O’Farrell in the hospital with Encephalitis perceives things very differently from a thirty-something O’Farrell experiencing a risky childbirth. While the subject matter is rather heavy, this book never feels it. O’Farrell’s writing is occasionally witty, often perceptive, and always beautiful.

61ime-a6gql._ac_uy218_ml3_10. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie– Set in Nigeria, this book tells the story of 15 year old Kambili and her older brother Jaja. Kambili and Jaja are wealthy and privileged. Their father is an important person in their local community, known for his generosity. But with his family, he is a religious fanatic and a tyrant. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent outside the city to stay with their aunt. Aunty Ifeoma is a progressive university professor whose home is a relaxed place of laughter and lightness. In her home, Kambili and Jaja experience life without their father’s oppressive presence for the first time. When they return to his house nothing can be the same again.