Top Ten Tuesday — Our Summer 2020 TBR

Posted June 23, 2020 by stuckint in Features, Top Ten Tuesday / 12 Comments

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted as always by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today Top Ten Tuesday turns TEN, which is an insane length of time for a blog feature to be running, so congratulations to Jana!! The prompt is for us to post a past topic, and since we missed last week, we didn’t have to go that far back to pick ours!

Today Haley and I will be sharing our Summer 2020 TBRs. Let us know what you’re reading down in the comments, we would love to chat with you!

Emily’s Picks

1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I have been wanting to read this one FOREVER and this is the summer it WILL happen. I have a ton of Jemisin books on my TBR and I just am going to prioritize them!

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Published by Orbit on August 4, 2015
Pages: 471

Original cover edition

Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes -- those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon -- are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

2. I’m Still Here - Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

I have heard nothing but raves about this one, and the only thing holding me back is that this is the kind of book I LOVE to listen to on audio, rather than read, but my audio consumption has gone way down since I stopped driving in to work every day (thanks, COVID!). I am going to just have to find the time, though, because I can’t wait any more!

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Published by Convergent Books on May 15, 2018
Pages: 185

From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.
Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness," a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.
In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'm Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.
For readers who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness--if we let it--can save us all.

3. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

I admit it, I tend to really enjoy the Reese Witherspoon Book Club picks, and this is one that sounds just amazing. I’ve been craving books set in other countries, since my travel bug is itching (again, thanks COVID!) and I’ve heard that this one really evokes the mid-1900s India setting so well. I can’t wait to dig in.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Published by Mira Books on March 3, 2020
Pages: 368

"Eloquent and moving...Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love."--

Publishers Weekly

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman's struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern,

The Henna Artist
opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.
Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist--and confidante--to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own...
Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow--a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

4. Augustown by Kei Miller

This is another backlist publication from 2016, but it’s been on my radar for awhile and I just haven’t picked it up. This is a magical-realism book set in Jamaica and man, I’m excited about it. The author is also a poet and I hear it’s just chock full of beautiful writing. It sounds amazing!

Augustown by Kei Miller
Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson on August 11, 2016
Pages: 368

From the winner of the Forward Prize, Augustown is a magical and haunting novel set in the underbelly of Jamaica.
Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything. So when her great-nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her. While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preacherman and a great thing that did not happen. A poor suburban sprawl in the Jamaican heartland, Augustown is a place where many things that should happen don’t, and plenty of things that shouldn’t happen do. For the story of Kaia leads back to another momentous day in Jamaican history, the birth of the Rastafari and the desire for a better life.

5. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Man, this sounds just so good. It’s been on my radar since earlier this year because, first of all, that cover is gorgeous! But then add to it all of the hype and all of the excitement and what a brilliant author Bennett is? This one is a no-brainer.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Published by Riverhead (Hc) on June 2, 2020
Pages: 352

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins. As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Haley’s Picks

6. Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno Garcia

I have been counting down the days until this book is out in the world I am ashamed to say that blog reading has gotten in the way of diving into this ARC but I am here for all the eerie haunted house vibes with a touch of Mexican folklore and eerie atmosphere . Plus that cover is just gorgeous.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
on June 30, 2020

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

7. The Year of Witching by Alexa Henderson

Finding horror novels by people of color can be difficult. Needless to say I am stoked about this story that mixes magical realism with horror, witches and a cultish society. Plus, the bit of the ARC I have read is positively gruesome and quite disturbing. It should surprise no one that I have it preordered.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
on July 21, 2020
Pages: 368

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.
In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.
But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

8. We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

This is one of the books I purchased for the blackout the bestseller list week. It’s essentially about a father who, in an effort to save his son, urges him to take an a demelanization makeover. Essentially his son’s skin would be lightened until he could pass as white. It’s a bleak commentary on white supremacy and the lense of whiteness that pervades the American dream.

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Published by One World on January 29, 2019
Pages: 336

A bold, provocative debut for fans of

Get Out

and Paul Beatty's

The Sellout

, about a father who will do anything to protect his son--even if it means turning him white.

How far would you go to protect your child?
Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larger by the day. In this near-future society plagued by resurgent racism, segregation, and expanding private prisons, our narrator knows Nigel might not survive. Having watched the world take away his own father, he is determined to stop history from repeating itself.
There is one potential solution: a new experimental medical procedure that promises to save lives by turning people white. But in order to afford Nigel's whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few Black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly surreal hoops--from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups--in an urgent quest to protect his son.
This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. Writing in the tradition of Ralph Ellison and Franz Kafka, Maurice Carlos Ruffin fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

9. City of Braas by S.A. Chakraborty

This adult fantasy series is based in Middle Eastern myth and folklore. Plus, know that all three books are out I am prepared to binge the entire series at some point this summer. I have really high hopes for these books and I cannot wait to get lost in Chakraborty’s world.

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty
Published by Harper Voyager on July 3, 2018
Pages: 553

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive. 
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .

10. The Silence of Bones by June Hur

Set in 1800s Korea this historical novel follows a young woman who is indentured servant to the police beareua as she tries to uncover the truth about a murder, for which the inspector she admires becomes a prime suspect. This standalone novel also deals with the clash of Eastern and Western ideologies.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur
Published by Feiwel & Friends on April 21, 2020
Pages: 336

I have a mouth, but I mustn't speak;Ears, but I mustn't hear;Eyes, but I mustn't see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman's secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
June Hur's elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

What About You?

What’s on your summer TBR? Are there particular types of books you prefer to read in the summer? Come chat with us in the comments!

12 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday — Our Summer 2020 TBR

  1. The Henna Artist and Mexican Gothic are also on my want-to-read list and sound like historical fiction books I’d enjoy. Renegades 1+2 by Marissa Meyer are on my summer tbr next to a few standalones. ?? Great post!!

  2. Deepika

    The Fifth Season is one of my favorite books of all time!! I can’t wait to read Mexican Gothic. I loved the author’s Gods of Jade and Shadow!

    • Kagie

      I have several (but I wanted to make sure I TD you just how wonderful The Vanishing Half is. I was disappointed it ended. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending with one of the sisters made me frustrated but was in reality probably what would happen.)

      For what I’m reading: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Things in Jars by Jess Kidd, The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert, Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner, American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, and The Damned by Reneé Ahdieh to name a few for my summer 2020 list! I’m so excited to get reading and listening.

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