Top Ten Tuesdays #6 - Underrated Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovelies at The Broke and the Bookish. 

This week’s Top Ten theme is: TOP TEN UNDERRATED BOOKS

I approached this week's theme thinking it would be a hell of a challenge. After all, some people might think of a book as underrated or lacking deserved attention, while others think it's a popular classic. Or perhaps some people think that certain books are given less regard because they deserve less regard! 

So. Subjectively thinking, here are a few books/series which I just feel like I don't hear enough about. As always, they're in no particular order. Oh, and all of the synopses are from the fabness that is Goodreads. 

1. The Chaos Walking Series, by Patrick Ness

Cover and Blurb of Book One: The Knife Of Never Letting Go

Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. 

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

I adore these books. They are supremely inventive. I felt such empathy for all of the characters and thought Ness' writing was just astounding. These should be on everyone's bookshelves. 

2. Unforgettable, by Caroline B Cooney

Losing her entire memory after witnessing a terrible crime, Hope cannot accept her luxurious life or the man who claims to be her father and finds solace in Mitch McKenna, a college student who may solve her mystery.

When I was a kid, I once got so sunburned reading this in my back garden that I could barely move for a week! I had a bit of a thing for the Point books when I was younger. I used to devour them whole and I feel like the stories are an integral part of my teen years. This one will always stick with me as a perfect summer read. 

3. The Host, by Stephenie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed. 

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

This one has been out for a while but I'm going to post a review of it this week as I think it is such a brilliant book! I love the Twilight books (judge me as you like, but the books were fab. Admittedly the films kinda suck though...), but The Host just leaves them in the dust. Whereas Twilight et al were written with a specific YA audience in mind, The Host was placed on adult fiction bookshelves. I won't go in to too much depth here lest it render my review redundant, but I will say that I cannot wait for this movie...if only they'd hurry the hell up with it!

4. Monsoon, by Wilbur Smith

Before there was empire, there was trade, and military force to protect that trade. Wilbur Smith's new, full-blooded historical novel starts with the commissioning, by King William III of Sir Hal Franklin. Franklin's mission is to rid the Indian Ocean of the pirate known as al-Aouf, the Bad One, and tells us more than we knew about the East India trade, Channel smuggling, the Arab slave trade and the struggle to keep Oman free from the Ottoman Empire.

Oh dear lord, that blurb is sort of dire, isn't it? Makes it sound so. very. boring! This book is anything but boring. It's a swashbuckling adventure filled with action, romance, the high seas and the oh-so-dashing Tom Courtney (*swoon*). It's an amazing read which nobody else seems to have read whenever I mention it. It IS a bestseller, but god knows who else bought it...nobody I know, that's for darn sure. 

5. The Well of Echoes Series, by Ian Irvine

Cover and Blurb of Book One: Geomancer

Two hundred years after the Forbidding was broken, Santhenar is locked in war with the lyrinx - intelligent, winged predators who will do anything to gain their own world. Despite the development of battle clankers and mastery of the crystals that power them, humanity is losing. Tiaan, a lonely crystal worker in a clanker manufactory, is experimenting with an entirely new kind of crystal when she begins to have extraordinary visions. The crystal has woken her latent talent for geomancy, the most powerful of all the Secret Arts - and the most perilous. Falsely accused of sabotage by her rival, Irisis, Tiaan flees for her life. Struggling to control her talent and hunted by the lyrinx, Tiaan follows her visions all the way to Tirthrax, greatest peak on all the Three Worlds, where a nightmare awaits her. 

This series held me completely mesmerised from start to finish. Ian Irvine sure doesn't pull any punches with his narrative. He creates a world of vivid detail and characters which are so fully-fleshed that you wince when they bleed. Which the often do. 

6. The Black Magician Trilogy, by Trudi Canavan

Cover and Blurb of Book One: Magician's Guild

"We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician."

This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders . . . and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.

What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

I read this while I was working in Borders, several years ago. I remember devouring the books on my lunch breaks as they were flying off the shelves at the time! These days, their popularity seems to have fizzled somewhat. This is a shame as the trilogy was so enjoyable!

7. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.

This book was described to me as a silent movie on paper. There is something magical and entrancing about how this story plays out through beautiful artistry and only the bare minimum of text. I wish that more people would groan wistfully and look into the distance, as though remembering a vivid dream, whenever I mentioned this book. That's the effect it has on me. 

8. A Note of Madness - Tabitha Suzuma

Life as a student is good for Flynn. As one of the top pianists at the Royal College of Music, he has been put forward for an important concert, the opportunity of a lifetime. But beneath the surface, things are changing. On a good day, he feels full of energy and life, but on a bad day being alive is worse than being dead. Sometimes he wants to compose and practise all night, at other times he can't get out of bed. His flatmate Harry tries to understand but is increasingly confused by Flynn's erratic mood swings. His friend Jennah tries to help, but Flynn finds it difficult to be around her as he struggles to control his feelings and behaviour. With the pressure of the forthcoming concert and the growing concern of his family and friends, emotions come to a head. Sometimes things can only get worse before they get better.

A bloody brilliant book from a bloody brilliant author. Suzuma's latest book, Forbidden has enough controversy surrounding it that I believe it will push her to the very forefront of contemporary YA literature. She thoroughly deserves to be there!

9. Spud, by John van de Ruit

It’s 1990. Apartheid is crumbling. Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison. And Spud Milton—thirteen-year-old, prepubescent choirboy extraordinaire—is about to start his first year at an elite boys-only boarding school in South Africa. Cursed with embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, a senile granny named Wombat, and a wild obsession for Julia Roberts, Spud has his hands full trying to adapt to his new home.

Armed with only his wits and his diary, Spud takes readers of all ages on a rowdy boarding school romp full of illegal midnight swims, raging hormones, and catastrophic holidays that will leave the entire family in total hysterics and thirsty for more.

This book is seriously pee-in-your-pants funny! I read a proof copy of this back in those Borders days and I remember having to find a handkerchief at one point because I was literally crying with laughter. This is also a tremendous read for your reluctant boy readers!

10. Doll, by Nicky Singer 

A story of dark emotions and strange friendship, Doll is the eagerly awaited new title from Nicky Singer, following the triumph of her first children's book, Feather Boy. Tilly's biker mother gave Tilly a doll when she was on her deathbed. There is something strange about the doll, something dangerous -- something which brings Tilly into the path of Jan, a South American boy with his own problems. But there are questions that have not been answered. Is Tilly's mother really dead, or is there a more painful reason for her absence?

This is one of those books which needs to be described as literature. There were a few negative reviews on Goodreads, but a lot of them said things along the lines of "it was too complicated." There's a lot going on in the dark currents of this short read. You can read my five star review of Doll, here

So that's it! But Wait...there's more!

I initially thought I was going to have a lot of trouble with this one so I asked around the family. Here are the suggestions I was given.

My husband, Nick, recommends A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex by Chris Jericho

A New York Times bestseller, WWE World Champion Chris Jericho's autobiography charts his path from small-town Canadian kid to big time World Wrestling Federation star.

Chris is the first undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the WWE and WCW, and has been named one of the fifty greatest wrestlers of all time. In A Lion's Tale, he dishes the dirt on how he worked his way through the ranks alongside major wrestling stars like Lance Storm to become a major superstar.

I haven't read this one but Nick has...about a dozen times. I dipped into it the other day and think I might give it a go. It was really well written and the bit I read cracked me up.

My mum, Sheila, recommends:

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, by Sue Townsend.

At thirteen years old, Adrian Mole has more than his fair share of problems - spots, ill-health, parents threatening to divorce, rejection of his poetry and much more - all recorded with brilliant humour in his diary.

I recommend this one, but I preferred Spud really. My mum recommends it as she thinks the younger generation are missing out on it.

Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl is the record of two years in the life of a remarkable Jewish girl whose triumphant humanity in the face of unfathomable deprivation and fear has made the book one of the most enduring documents of our time.

The Everyman’s hardcover edition reprints the Definitive Edition authorized by the Frank estate, plus a new introduction, a bibliography, and a chronology of Anne Frank’s life and times.

Mum recommends this one as she feels that the younger lot need to be reminded of the horrors of the war and the holocaust. Ah my mum...always up for teaching those darn kids a lesson!

My Father-In-Law, Paul, recommends The Malloreon Series by David Eddings

Cover and Blurb of Book One: Guardians of the West 

Garion had slain the evil God Torak and had been crowned King of Riva. The Prophecy was fulfilled--or so it seemed. And then again, Garion found himself a pawn, caught between the two ancient Prophecies, with the fate of the world somehow resting on him.

I'm going to give these a shot on Paul's recommendation. But the series looks EPIC!  HERE is a link to the wiki page. 

My Mother-In-Law, Caroline, recommends her favourite aspirational read, The Argos Catalogue

Thanks to Bill Bailey, my husband and I refer to this as the laminated book of dreams. 

He he he. This last recommendation thoroughly cracked me up! Thanks Caroline!

Hope y'all liked the list!


  1. Yes, the Diary of Anne Frank is a book everyone should read. A Note of Madness looks interesting too. Great list!

  2. I saw The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Host on other lists as well. Spud looks fun and interesting.

    Check out mine at The Scarlet Letter.

  3. I just recently reread Hugo! What a book. I'm looking forward to the author's new book, coming out very soon.

    Here's my Top Ten post for this week: Top Ten Underappreciated Books
    And don't forget to stop in and sign up to win in the Readerbuzz August Giveaway!

  4. I loved the Host. Not as much as I love Twilight, but I think it's far better written. Good to see Stephenie improving as she learns.

  5. I truly enjoyed Hugo Cabret and just saw that it was made into a movie. I hope they do the book justice!

  6. YES! To number 1! My favourite books ever - I cannot recommend them enough - they blew me away.

    I love Patrick Ness :)

    I also enjoyed The Host a lot (even though Im not a Twilight fan and they make me rant).

  7. Great booms, none of which I have ever heard of, except Anne Frank. Thanks for sharing and enlightening me.


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