I have an affiliate relationship with Bookshop.org and Malaprop's Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site. Read more on my affiliate page.
Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl invited us to share our top ten books on our spring 2021 TBRs this week but I don’t plan ahead like that. I decided to share ten fiction books that I never reviewed because I read them while I was on my extended blogging break. (You can also check out ten nonfiction books I never reviewed.)
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell–I read this two years ago and I still find myself wanting to talk it over with someone. I practically begged my brother-in-law to read it, telling him, “I need someone to talk this over with, dammit!” I think it’s very much his kind of book, so we’ll see what happens. The crazy thing is that I did review the sequel!
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden–I read this entire trilogy on my blogging break and adored it. It’s a dark story set in Russia at a time when Christianity is uprooting “pagan” beliefs. With strong characters and fairy tale elements set in the historical world, these books are keepers.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, read by Prentice Onayemi–This book, about a family of Cameroonian immigrants who live in New York at the beginning of the 2008 recession, was thought-provoking. Sometimes the “American Dream” is just too hard or it’s not all that legends make it out to be. Beautifully narrated.
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy–WWII books about civilians doing what they can to survive are a safe bet for me at any time. But this entirely-realistic retelling of Hansel and Gretel is truly something special. It remains true to the time but turns the fairy tale on its head.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch, read by George Newbern–Stories of redemption and hope are also sure to satisfy me. Ove is such a crusty old codger when we meet him, everyone he knows has written him off. But as we learn about his life and see him slowly, reluctantly, open up to the new young family next door, we learn to love him as much as they do, proving that no one is ever beyond hope.
The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash–Other readers may recognize Wiley Cash more for his debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, which I haven’t read yet. But this one is part of a small set of books that I think of as “Women Who Feel Like Family.” Ella May–a young, single mother of four–lives in the foothills of North Carolina in 1929. She’s so broke that she and her family (white), have to live in the Black community. But Ella May dares to dream of more for her family and becomes an organizer when the union comes to the textile mill where she works.
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, read by Kate Reading–This beautifully-written retelling of Rapunzel weaves together the stories of three women who seek to live lives of their own choosing–not the roles society dictates to them.
One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash–Set in upstate South Carolina, Rash’s debut novel is as harsh and haunting as the landscape he writes about. The town troublemaker disappears and Sheriff Will Alexander knows in his bones that the man has been murdered but he can’t even find the body. Exploring ties to family, community, and the land, Rash’s book is perfectly atmospheric and relevant to me as a southern Appalachian woman with roots in the area going back many generations.
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, read by Luke Daniels–I don’t think the humor in this book will appeal to everyone but it definitely appealed to me. Turning almost every fairytale trope on its ear, I laughed throughout the entire book.
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty–I stumbled on this book at the library and I couldn’t walk away from that cover. I devoured the book and the next two in the series as soon as I could get my hands on them. A world of djinn and other elemental spirits, alongside but apart from Napoleonic Egypt, featuring love, betrayal, and unknown identities, there is a lot to love in this series.
That’s my list! Have you read any of these? What did you think? Link up every Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl!