Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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Hello and welcome to this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week we are to discuss hidden gems – books which you feel haven’t gotten the attention or marketing they deserve. I managed to think of ten pretty quickly this week but I have to say these are just books I, personally, feel haven’t gotten much attention, they may have actually been very highly publicised and I just didn’t notice! So, without further ado, here are my top ten hidden gems!

1. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

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Summary: from Amazon

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. Across 1000 miles of Oregon desert his assassins, the notorious Eli and Charlies Sisters, ride – fighting, shooting, and drinking their way to Sacramento. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, the road is long and bloody, and somewhere along the path Eli begins to question what he does for a living – and whom he does it for. The Sisters Brothers pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable ribald tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life-and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

Why:

This is a book I harp on about quite a lot – so sorry if I’ve sung it’s praises frequently before! However, it is one of my all time favourites and although I know a few people who have read and loved it I feel like it hasn’t really gotten the appreciation it deserves. It such a quirky, raw, hilarious and genre-defying book with hugely original and fascinating characters. If you haven’t read it yet I would strongly recommend giving it a shot!

2. The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

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Summary: from Amazon

Alex Morris has lost everything:her relationship, her career and her faith in the future. Moving to Edinburgh to escape her demons, Alex takes a job teaching at a Pupil Referral Unit. It’s a place for kids whose behaviour is so extreme that they cannot be taught in a normal classroom. Alex is fragile with grief and way out of her depth.

Her fourth-year students are troubled and violent. In desperation to reach them, Alex turns to the stories she knows best. Greek tragedy isn’t the most obvious way to win over such damaged children, yet these tales of fate, family and vengeance speak directly to them.

Enthralled by the bloodthirsty justice of the ancient world, the teenagers begin to weave the threads of their own tragedy – one that Alex watches, helpless to prevent.

Why:

I read this book years ago and really enjoyed it but whenever I talk to people about it – no one else has ever even heard of it. It is a very dark and intense psychological thriller of sorts and the story is told in such a skilful way. It’s also set in Edinburgh which is where I live and I love reading about places I can recognise parts of so that was an added bonus for me. In general though I just think it’s a great book that no one else seems to have read but me which is a shame!

3. The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

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Summary: from Amazon

London, 1727 – and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels and coffee-houses into the hell of a debtors’ prison.

The Marshalsea is a savage world of its own, with simple rules: those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of the gaol’s rutheless governor and his cronies.

The trouble is, Tom Hawkins has never been good at following rules – even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the Captain’s beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: to the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet.

Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon, Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder – or be the next to die.

Why:

I’m not entirely sure this one is actually a hidden gem or if I just somehow managed to not notice it or hear anything about it until someone in my postal book club on Litsy sent it to me. As I say – I had never come across it before but I thought it was absolutely fantastic whilst reading it and now keep recommending it to anyone who likes crime novels or historical novels. It is so incredibly evocative and brings the time period and setting into such strong focus in the readers mind. It is also a great story and is actually the first book in a series about the main character, Tom Hawkins. I will definitely be reading the follow up as soon as I can get to it!

4. The Gods of Love by Nicola Mostyn

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Summary: from Amazon

Meet Frida: divorce lawyer, cynic and secret descendant of the immortal love god Eros. She’s about to have a really bad day . . .

When a handsome but clearly delusional man named Dan bursts into Frida’s office and insists that she is fated to save the world, she has him ejected faster than you can say ‘prenup’.

But a creepy meeting, a demon or three and one attempted kidnapping later, Frida is beginning to face the inconvenient truth: Dan is in fact The Oracle, the gods of Greek mythology are real and Frida herself appears to be everyone’s only hope.
The world is doomed.

Why:

I read this one through Netgalley a few months ago and I found it refreshingly original, funny and hugely readable. I also really liked the main character – Frida. Since reading it, though, I haven’t seen it around much or heard many people talking about on places like Bookstagram. That makes me think it has become a bit of a hidden gem and I would love to hear about more people reading it. I also think it is to be part of series and I definitely want to read a sequel so I’m going to keep recommending it to people!

5. Darktown by Thomas Mullen

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Summary: from Amazon

Atlanta, 1948. In this city, all crime is black and white.

On one side of the tracks are the rich, white neighbourhoods; on the other, Darktown, the African-American area guarded by the city’s first black police force of only eight men. These cops are kept near-powerless by the authorities: they can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they must operate out of a dingy basement.

When a poor black woman is killed in Darktown having been last seen in a car with a rich white man, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust of their community and even their own lives to investigate her death.

Their efforts bring them up against a brutal old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run Darktown as his own turf – but Dunlow’s idealistic young partner, Rakestraw, is a young progressive who may be willing to make allies across colour lines . . .

Why:

I loved this gritty, believable and compelling crime book last year and wish it was a more popular go to for crime readers because I think it’s something pretty special. I’m sure I heard somewhere that it is being turned into a TV series which will hopefully bring the book many new readers and it totally deserves to be more widely read. Anyone I have encountered that has read it has liked it just as much as I did so it does have a bit of a fanbase but I think it deserves to be a book read by millions!

6. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

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Summary: from Amazon

Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life.

He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won’t endear him to the local bullies.
He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen – he’s got the scars to prove it.
What he doesn’t know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he’ll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices.

So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing.

Why:

There is a chance that this book was hugely popular when it was released years ago and I was just late to the party but it still feels like a bit of a hidden gem to me! It is such a fantastic story with unique and incredibly likeable characters and I can’t see why anyone would not enjoy reading it. The whole book just has a really positive and uplifting feel to it and I think that is lovely to read occasionally – especially if you read a lot of depressing books as I do!

7. All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

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Summary: from Amazon

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

Why:
This is another one of those books that I am constantly waxing lyrical about so I’m going to stay true to form and recommend it again. I’m not sure why it resonated with me so so strongly because I read so many thrillers but for some reason All The Wicked Girls just blew me away completely and yet I don’t know anyone else who has read it! It is honestly such a beautifully written book that deserves all the awards/praise/love etc. and is the epitome of a hidden gem in my eyes.

8. The Good Father by Noah Hawley

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Summary: from Amazon

Dr Paul Allen is a well-respected man. He lives a happy, comfortable life with his second wife and their family. Until the night when a knock at the door blows his world apart: a hugely popular presidential candidate has been shot, and they say the young man who pulled the trigger is Paul’s son.

Daniel, the only child from his first, failed marriage, was always a good kid and Paul is convinced his quiet boy is not capable of murder.

Overwhelmed by a vortex of feelings, Paul embarks on a mission to understand what happened and why. Following the trail of his son’s journey across America, he is forced to re-examine his life as a husband and a parent, and every decision he ever made.

What follows is a powerfully emotional and suspense-filled quest that keeps you guessing to the very end.

Why:

I read this book quite a long time ago so I can’t remember the details of it all that well but I do remember finding it so well written and emotive. The issues it covers are very serious and emotional but I really felt the author was so skilful in his telling of these characters lives. It is one of those books that I feel deserves to be really widely read and engaged with and I would highly recommend it.

9. All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

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Summary: from Amazon

Since the night she was attacked, Jenny Kramer hasn’t been able to recall what happened. Her parents and the doctors saw to that. Her mother couldn’t prevent the terror in the woods, but she’s done all she can to stop it ruining Jenny’s life. The only thing that now bothers Jenny is the scar carved into her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.

But if Jenny can’t remember her attacker, he can’t be caught. He could be the man next to her right now, the one who caught just her eye.

And he hasn’t forgotten anything…

Why:

This is a psychological thriller that I feel kind of flew under the radar for some reason. It is a seriously dark and twisted book but it is intensely compelling and a really interesting and scary concept. I think the crime/mystery/thriller genre is perhaps a little overpopulated and that may be why some really great books are kind of missed by many but this is one that really stuck in my mind so I’m naming it as a hidden gem!

10. Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

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Summary: from Amazon

‘There’s no ceremony for friendship, is there? If you go ahead with this wedding then you realise that what you’re actually saying is that your friendship with me is not meaningful and durable. That,’ she sipped her wine victoriously, ‘is the logical conclusion.’

‘Believe me, if I could marry you too, Tyler, I would.’

Laura and Tyler are best friends and drinking buddies. But things are set to change. Can their friendship survive? Or will growing up mean growing apart?

Why:

This isn’t actually a book that I really loved when I read it but it has kind of stuck in my thoughts as an unflinchingly honest portrayal of a friendship. I read it on the Eurostar coming home from Paris with my best friend and I remember thinking the book touched on something that felt very real and provocative. The characters aren’t particularly likeable and it’s not a very easy book to sell but I absolutely think it is worth reading and certainly a hidden gem.

So that’s it – my top ten list of hidden gems! I really hope you enjoyed reading and would love to hear your thoughts or comments on my list. Please feel free to link to your own Top Ten Tuesday as well – looking forward to chatting with you all! Until next week!

xxx

 

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