Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books (with less than 2000 ratings on Goodreads)

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (http://www.brokeandbookish.com/).

I LOVE the theme of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: underrated books, particularly those with less than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. I’ve been thinking a lot about lesser-known and independently published books lately, especially since I’ve been reading more of those recently. I really want to start posting more book reviews on here, focusing on books I haven’t seen reviewed a lot around the bookternet.

To start, though, here are 10 books I’ve read with less than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads that I highly recommend you all pick up:

 

The Girl Wakes: Stories

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau (17 ratings) – highly recommended dark fairy tale retellings with a feminist slant. A lot of these are microfiction, which I love, and all are creepy and extremely well-written.

All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost: A Novel

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang (711 ratings) – this is a very short and gorgeously written book about writing and love.

Cuckold

Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar (725 ratings) – An intricate historical epic that I really enjoyed. From the Goodreads description: “The time is early 16th century. The Rajput kingdom of Mewar is at the height of its power. It is locked in war with the Sultanates of Delhi, Gujarat and Malwa. But there is another deadly battle being waged within Mewar itself. who will inherit the throne after the death of the Maharana? The course of history, not just of Mewar but of the whole of India, is about to be changed forever. At the centre of Cuckold is the narrator, heir apparent of Mewar, who questions the codes, conventions and underlying assumptions of the feudal world of which he is a part, a world in which political and personal conduct are dictated by values of courage, valour and courtesy; and death is preferable to dishonour. A quintessentially Indian story, Cuckold has an immediacy and appeal that are truly universal.”

The Girl in the Road

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (1969 ratings) – Since it’s almost there, let’s help this book hit 2,000 ratings! It’s a near-future science fiction story set in India, Ethiopia, and the newly constructed floating bridge between the two countries; it tells the intertwining stories of two women pulled into voyages for survival.

Mr. Splitfoot

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (1690 ratings) – another book with dual narratives, although these are both set in upstate New York and deal with orphaned children talking to the dead, mysterious cults, and a woman who has lost the power of speech.

Death My Own Way

Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano (10 ratings) – short, powerful, philosophical novel set during a single night in Central Park and focused on a man with terminal cancer.

Roses and Rot

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard (418 ratings) – a story of two sisters at an isolated creative retreat that slowly becomes more and more fantastical.

Redemption in Indigo

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (1295 ratings) – the Goodreads blurb does this book much more justice than I could: “A tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makendha—now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi— who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone. A contemporary fairy tale that is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale.” I also highly recommend Karen Lord’s better-known book The Best of All Possible Worlds.

A History of Glitter and Blood

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz (656 ratings) – unconventional YA where bisexuality is the norm and a group of friends try to navigate a city torn apart by war and different kinds of discrimination. I keep meaning to post a longer review for this one, and I swear I’ll get to it.

God's Little Soldier

God’s Little Soldier by Kiran Nagarkar (149 ratings) – Again, the Goodreads blurb is much better than mine would be: “No matter what garb he dons, or the faith to which he subscribes, Zia believes that he is the chosen one, destined to save the world.
Gifted mathematician, stock market whiz-kid, master guerrilla strategist, Defender of the faith, Zia Khan is a man willing to die for his beliefs, and to destroy anyone who comes in his way. Zia Khan is a god’s little soldier: a terrorist.
Zia’s fate is linked with that of his brother, Amanat, who chooses the middle path. Their lives diverge and their beliefs clash, but both are confronted in their own ways with the dilemmas of faith and betrayal, god and morality.
Crafted with a deft, daring and certain hand, God’s Little Soldier is a masterpiece of storytelling. As a literary work, the novel effortlessly combines lyricism and learning, imagination and authenticity; as a modern-day allegory it highlights the dangers of religious extremism of all varieties, and is a profound and unflinching enquiry into the most pressing issues of our time.”

 

 

Looking forward to see what underrated books everyone recommends! Feel free to link to your posts in the comments 🙂

 

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Reading Updates: Halfway Through 2016!

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Since we’re halfway through 2016 (what??? how???), I wanted to look back over my reading and see how I’m doing so far this year. Overall, it’s been a really great year for reading–I’ve had 6 five-star reads so far this year, and due to my extreme pickiness, I’m really happy about this. Last year, I only had 4 for the entire year. I feel like overall this year I’ve done a better job picking out books, and I hope that I can continue the good-books streak for the second half of 2016.

So here are my stats so far for 2016:

Number of books read: 45

#readmyowndamnbooks: 19

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 14 (out of 24)

 

How am I doing on my goals for 2016? Well…let’s see.

Read more classics. I am doing very poorly on this goal; unless  you stretch the definition of “classic,” I really haven’t read a single one. Wide Sargasso Sea, a feminist reinterpretation of Jane Eyre written in the 1960’s, probably comes the closest.

Read more books by authors I know I love. I’m doing well on this goal so far, having read books by already-favorites Kazuo Ishiguro, Neil Gaiman, Octavia Butler, and Seanan McGuire.

Read more long books. I’m doing OK on this one; I think the longest books I’ve read so far have been The Wise Man’s Fear and A Court of Mist and Fury. I’d really like to get in a few more doorstoppers before the end of the year, though.

Make a dent in my physical TBR shelf. I’ve read a lot of books from my TBR shelf so far, but I’ve also bought a lot of new books, so…

Read at least 50 books. I am crushing this goal–it’s only halfway through the year and I’ve almost hit 50.

Read more books I think I will love, compared to books I will just like. This goal basically meant that I didn’t want to read as many filler-type books that I sometimes pick up because they’re readily available at the library, or cheap, or to get out of a reading slump. I haven’t read any 1- or 2-star books yet this year (!) so I’d consider this a win. I also have 6 5-star books already, which is high for me as I’m super picky about rating books with 5 stars.

Participate in at least one Dewey’s Readathon. I participated in the Readathon in March, although because of work, my participation wasn’t as intense as I’d have liked it to be. But I’m definitely going to participate again in October. Also, the #24in48 readathon is at the end of July, so I’m excited for that.

 

Goals for the second half of 2016:

Actually read at least one classic, for reals this time.
Examples: Brideshead Revisited, Persuasion, North and South

Read some books by authors I’m embarrassed I haven’t read  yet. Examples: Zadie Smith, Catherynne M. Valente, literally any classic Russian author, Nnedi Okorafor

Finish Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.
10 tasks left!

And…I also wanted to look back at my top ten books for the first half of 2016! I wonder how many of these will end up on my top ten list for the whole year? I guess it depends on how my reading goes during the second half 🙂 The first six of these were 5-star reads (or almost, and rounded up to 5 stars) and the other five were excellent 4-star reads.

The PassionBad FeministWide Sargasso SeaMr. SplitfootMy Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)Every Heart a DoorwayThe End of Mr. YThe Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels #2)The Girl Wakes: Stories

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

 

How is everyone’s reading going so far this year?

June Reading Wrap-Up

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In June, I finished two books that I’ve been halfway finished with for at least six months (The Cuckoo’s Calling) and in the other case several years (Unaccustomed Earth); I started a great new series (The Raven Cycle); and I had yet another 5-star read (The Girl Wakes). It’s only halfway through 2016, and I’ve already beaten the number of 5-star reads I had during all of last year 🙂 Here are my totals:

# of books read: 8

#readmyowndamn books: 4

20 Books of Summer total: 8/20

Audiobooks: 2

So here’s what I read this month, ranked (as usual) in order of awesomeness:

The Girl Wakes: StoriesUnaccustomed EarthA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)Citizen: An American LyricThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau (5 stars): This incredible book of short stories is made up of dark feminist fairytale retellings. If that appeals to you, READ THIS BOOK. The premise alone made me know I would love this book, but it turned out to be even better than I expected. Longer review to come (I’m going to try actually posting some book review posts!) but to summarize, these short stories gave me goosebumps and were absolutely what I wanted to read.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (4.25 stars): I’m really loving short story collections lately. The characters and stories in this book feel so fully real, and Jhumpa Lahiri is an incredible writer. My favorite of the collection was “Only Goodness,” about the relationship between a brother and sister and the brother’s struggle with alcoholism; the last story in the book, however, the third in a series of connected stories, hit me hard.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (4.25 stars): Indulgent romantic fantasy that I will most likely reread several times.

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (4 stars): the second book in the Raven Cycle was great, especially since it focused on my favorite character, Ronan. I love that the plot just keeps getting weirder, but the lovable characters are what really keeps me interested.

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (4 stars): If you haven’t checked out this YA series yet, I would encourage you to do so. I went into it knowing nothing about the plot, and I think that was a good way to go.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine (3 stars): I found some of the passages in this book of prose poems to be incredibly powerful, others less so. Overall I wish I’d read it in physical form rather than listening to it as an audiobook, although I had thought it was a good idea at the time. Too much rewinding and re-listening may have spoiled the effect for me, and I think I’d have rated it higher if I’d physically read it. No more poetry audiobooks for me.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (3 stars): I started listening to this audiobook in December and stopped about 2/3 of the way through because nothing was really happening. It took me until this month to get the desire to pick it back up so that I could finally find out who the murderer was. I feel like my expectations were too high because J.K. Rowling wrote this, and while it was a decent detective novel, I’m not interested enough to continue the series. Honestly, I wouldn’t really recommend it. Read something else instead.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (2.5 stars): this one was a disappointment for me. I’ve read two other Discworld books (Mort and Small Gods) that I enjoyed, but this one unfortunately got really…boring. It started out well, with humor and an interesting setup, but then went rapidly downhill. I know that this is the first book in the series and isn’t widely considered one of the best, but I was still disappointed–particularly with the book’s treatment of female characters. I understand that Pratchett was satirizing a lot of aspects of fantasy literature, but it’s still really unnecessary, and in my opinion a turnoff to a lot of female readers, to have literally every female character be naked in this book.

 

Overall, it was a great reading month! I’m already looking forward to my reading in July (my birthday month!) and I’m hoping to find some more great reads.

 

What did you all read in June? Let me know!