The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is Hidden Gem Books in X Genre, however as I read pretty much every genre I didn’t want to limit myself to just one (and it’s difficult to think of ten in any one genre) so I’m going to go for a mix and hope there’s something there for everyone.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list. If you want to join in all they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post and, if you want to, add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s posts (typically put up midnight EST on Tuesday) so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists!
Anyway, here’s my top ten hidden gems in fantasy, sci fi, chick lit, horror, thriller, mystery and…..
YA Fantasy – The Sunbolt Chronicles by Intisar Khanani
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
I have to confess I’ve only read the first book in this series and another short story by the author but it’s definitely one I want to read more of as the writing is wonderful. I’m slightly at a loss as to why this is not much more popular as I would say the writing is as good as some of the biggest YA fantasy reads at the moment.
YA Sci Fi – Proxy by Alex London
Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.
Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.
Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.
Not necessarily the most unique story but definitely worth reading for the writing and for having a main character who happens to be gay and not being all about romance (there’s practically none).
YA Thriller – The Deviants by C.J. Skuse
When you set out for revenge, dig two graves
Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.
Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.
When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?
I just checked on GoodReads and there are less than 200 ratings for this book. I honestly don’t understand how this can be possible as it really is a brilliant book. It’s a little slow in the beginning but worth sticking with it. I would actually recommend any C.J. Skuse book as every one I’ve read has been great.
Horror – The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart
Fans of Stephen King and Bentley Little will devour The Beast of Barcroft, Bill Schweigart’s brilliant new vision of dark suburban horror. Ben thought he had the neighbor from hell. He didn’t know how right he was. . . .
Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.
First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.
Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.
I love a good creature feature and this is a great creature feature. Reminds me of the James Herbert books I read in my teens. It’s creepy, a little bit gory but not OTT and has some very funny banter in places.
Mystery/Thriller – Henry Bins Series by Nick Pirog
The average person is awake for sixteen hours a day.
Henry Bins is awake for one.
He wakes up each day at 3 a.m. then falls asleep at 4 a.m.
Life is simple.
Until he hears the woman scream.
And sees the man leave the house across the street.
But not just any man.
The President of the United States.
The books in this series are pretty short making them really quick reads but there’s a lot packed in. The premise is unlike anything I’ve ever read, there is a lot of humor and a cat called Lassie who steals every single scene.
Chick Lit / RomCom – Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood
Olive Brewster is a scaredy cat. She doesn’t do new or risky. She’s happy enough with her job at the local market, it’s cool that she has no boyfriend to fret over, she even likes that she still lives in her childhood home. No drama, no fuss, no problems. Everything is fine. Super duper fine.
Except … Olive’s best friend in the world, Birdie, is dying.
Birdie has one final wish. She wants to track down her first love, Chuck, and because she’s stuck in the hospital she needs Olive’s help to do it. But there’s a teeny problem: Chuck is somewhere in New York and Olive has never even left her home town, let alone roamed the crazy streets of Manhattan.
As if the big city isn’t scary enough, Olive has to contend with Seth, a cocky comedy TV writer who thinks she’s a joke; Anders, a bored socialite who’s taken a shine to her; and the fact that no matter how hard she tries to track down Chuck, he doesn’t seem to want to be found.
Can Olive learn to overcome her fears, abandon her old safe routine and fulfil her best friend’s last wish? It’s going to take extra bravery, one badass attitude and a whole lot of big sexy love to make this happen …
You had to know I was going to include this one, I don’t think I’ve stopped talking about it since I finished it a month or so ago. It’s hilariously funny, sweet and a tiny bit heartbreaking. If you love books like The Hating Game or pretty much anything by Sophie Kinsella you’re sure to love this.
YA Romance – If We Were a Movie by Kelly Oram
Music meets Movies in this sweet college romance from the bestselling author of Cinder & Ella.
NYU freshman Nate Anderson is a triplet who is desperate to escape his wild and crazy brothers. After they screw things up for him one too many times, Nate flees his housing situation and takes the first available room for rent as far from his brothers as he can get.
Enter his new roommate Jordan–a quirky LA girl who believes that everything in life has already been done in the movies. In this heartfelt tale of love, friendship and family, Nate learns how to deal with his new adult life using Hollywood films as a guide.
I think everyone has read the author’s more famous book Cinder and Ella (if not go read it) but this seems to be a lot less popular for some reason. I’ve loved everything Oram has written but I’d definitely rate this among my favorites. It’s cute, it’s funny and there’s lots of music and movie references.
YA Fantasy – Princess Ahira by K.M. Shea
Once upon a time? Please! What a joke.
Princess Ahira is not your average damsel in distress. She hates being a princess and constantly tries to flee from her mother and her lectures. Pleasantly, her life is shattered on the eve of her sixteenth birthday when she is kidnapped by dragons.
Ahira is selected by a powerful dragon named Azmaveth to be his captive princess, and lives with him—cleaning his pigpen den—as they forge a strange sort of friendship. Living with Azmaveth brings more adventures than Ahira ever saw in her family’s castle. Not only do Azmaveth’s inventive spells seem to backfire on himself and those around him, but he lives in a land where fairytales are completely backwards.
There’s Snow White and her seven dwarf uncles who have fallen asleep, Hanzel and Gretal who have locked an old woman out of her cookie cottage, and a miniature unicorn who happens to have some pretty powerful magic.
In this upside down land Ahira also meets Kohath, Azmaveth’s egotistical steward who drags her on countless wild goose chases, and Aaron, a cowardly but intelligent wizard.
Unfortunately, Ahira isn’t visiting the dragons during a peaceful time. The valkyrie, mystical female warriors bent on dominion over magic, are marching against the dragons, and everything—from dragons to gnomes—are rallying together to fight back. What Ahira doesn’t know is that her emotions and romantic life will have a powerful impact on the looming war.
Again, I’d recommend pretty much any K.M. Shea book (her Timeless Fairytale series is brilliant) but this is probably my favorite book of hers. There’s a dragon, do I need to say anything else? Yeah ok, there’s also a feisty princess who doesn’t really want Prince Charming to come and rescue her, a really funny hate to love romance, loads of fairytale references and I’m pretty sure there’s a very vain unicorn.
Sci Fi/Romance – Spandex in the City by Jenny Colgan
LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?
I don’t know why but for some reason Jenny T Colgan books tend not to do as well as the Jenny Colgan books. I suspect it’s because they’re sci fi which is not what her usual readers expect. Spandex and the City is brilliant and pokes fun (in a very nice way) at the whole superhero genre where let’s face it being the girlfriend kinda sucks.
Thriller/Mystery/NA – Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson
Despite the illusion Sapphire Dubois presents to the rest of the world, she is not just your stereotypical 22-year old Beverly Hills heiress; she hunts serial killers. While her fellow heirs spend their nights with trending celebs and drugs at the hottest club, Sapphire secretly spends hers luring, capturing, and anonymously handing over So-Cal’s most wanted killers to the police — just your average Tuesday night.
What Sapphire doesn’t know is that one of her adversaries is watching her every move, aware of both her true identity and her unconventional hobby. Needless to say, he doesn’t approve. Used to being the one who redefines the definition of predator and prey, Sapphire’s world abruptly shatters when a gruesome ‘gift’ arrives for her at the Beverly Hills Country Club. With her involuntary crush, handsome Detective Aston Ridder, close on her tail, Sapphire now has to rethink her routine strategy and figure out how to capture a killer who already knows she’s coming.
Pretty sure I found this in the freebie charts on Amazon, read it and have been constantly on the lookout for the next in the series ever since. I just love the idea of a pampered heiress with a serial killer hunting alter ego. It’s like a gender switched Batman meets Silence of the Lambs.
So that’s my Top Ten Hidden Gems in a variety of genres. Have you read any of these or have I tempted you to give them a try? Are there any hidden gems you’d recommend (I have a feeling my TBR pile is going to double in size this week)?
As always feel free to leave comments and links to your Top Ten’s below.