Top 5 Tuesday: ‘Unputdownable’ reads

Hi, friends! I took a break from Top 5 Tuesday last week, but I’m back now with my list of “unputdownable” reads!

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm.

This week I dug deep into my already-read archives so I could avoid listing my more obvious picks. Let’s get started!

“I Love You Like a Tomato” by Marie Giordano

ChiChi Maggiordino will do anything to get God’s attention. She will hold her breath, stand on tiptoe for an hour, walk a mile backward, climb all stairs on her knees… anything. When her grandmother teaches her how to use the Evil Eye, telling her it’s how Jesus Christ made his miracles and how the Italians got rid of Mussolini, ChiChi realizes it’s what her prayers have been missing. Now she can get started on the business of making her mother happier by helping her find love, and healing her brother’s weak lungs.

But ChiChi’s family lives in Minneapolis, and it’s the 1950s. For an Italian immigrant family, sometimes it seems like nothing can make life easier. ChiChi’s mother still pines for her husband, a long-dead American soldier; ChiChi’s brother is disdainful of her sacrifices and penance-he doesn’t understand what his older sister already knows, that sometimes God needs to be bribed. 

When her grandmother passes away, ChiChi steps up her search for meaning and happiness, but it seems to be fruitless. And she struggles, the way so many women do, because her love for her family is suffocating, even while it fulfills her.

It’s not until she meets two Italian dwarves, and they teach her of the ancient clown tradition, the commedia dell’arte, that she comes to understand that in order to make everyone else happy, she herself must be happy.

But first she must find her own way in the world… and learn to accept that not even the power of the Evil Eye can keep people from changing.

My thoughts

It’s been AGES since I read this one (I was a freshman in college, so we’re talking, like, 14 years), but I remember being so absorbed in this book between my classes. I loaned it to my mom several years ago, and she enjoyed it as well.

“Jamaica Inn” by Daphne du Maurier

The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother’s dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn’s dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls — or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions … tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.

My thoughts

I remember reading this one any chance I got. Du Maurier is decidedly my all-time favorite author (mostly because I love “Rebecca” so much). As with her other works, “Jamaica Inn” is so atmospheric that the setting itself becomes a main character.

“Ransom” by Lois Duncan

The lives of five captives hang in the balance while their families gather the ransom.

Two brothers, their family frantic to find their sons. A loner whose uncle doesnโ€™t even know heโ€™s missing. An Army brat whose family will never be able to raise enough money. And a cheerleader who canโ€™t count on her stepdad, but knows her father will come through.

My thoughts

Lois Duncan was my Stephen King back in the day. She wrote a lot of terrifying middle-grade fiction, including “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” The premise of a group of students being kidnapped by a guy posing as their bus driver freaked the crap out of me!

“The House of the Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The sins of one generation are visited upon another in a haunted New England mansion until the arrival of a young woman from the country breathes new air into mouldering lives and rooms. Written shortly after The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables re-addresses the theme of human guilt in a style remarkable in both its descriptive virtuosity and its truly modern mix of fantasy and realism.

My thoughts

Can someone please explain to me why this book has so many negative reviews on Goodreads? I thought it was fascinating and fun to read.

“Night of the Twisters” by Ivy Ruckman

When a tornado watch is issued one Tuesday evening in June, twelve-year-old Dan Hatch and his best friend, Arthur, don’t think much of it. After all, tornado warnings are a way of life during the summer in Grand Island, Nebraska.

But soon enough, the wind begins to howl, and the lights and telephone stop working. Then the emergency siren starts to wail. Dan, his baby brother, and Arthur have only seconds to get to the basement before the monstrous twister is on top of them.

Little do they know that even if they do survive the storm, their ordeal will have only just begun…

My thoughts

This was required reading in seventh grade. As much as I have always loved reading, I did NOT love a lot of the books I was assigned in school. This was a refreshing exception. What an exciting book! And the fact that it was based on actual events made me enjoy it even more. I believe we had some pretty severe weather that same spring, so it really came to life for me (obviously not on the scale described in the book).

Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think of them? What books would you describe as “unputdownable”?

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