Top Ten Tuesday: The Backlog

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is a freebie, but there’s a lot of awesome topics coming up in the next couple weeks, about favorite reads of 2019, or most anticipated reads of 2020, so I decided to take a look at the backlog.  About 60% of my reading comes from new-to-me authors- so here are a few of the ones I enjoyed this year and would like to read more of.

Kameron Hurley: God’s War (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1) and The Light Brigade – I know The Mirror Empire was a miss for a few of my blogging buddies, and I do understand, but ultimately I enjoyed it enough that I’d like to read more of Hurley.  The Light Brigade is her highest rated book on GoodReads, and God’s War came recommended by a frequent buddy reader.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sylvain Neuvel: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) – Neuvel’s novella The Test was one of my favorites this year.  While I wait for him to write something else wonderful and so perfectly relevant, I plan to give Sleeping Giants (and hopefully the rest of the trilogy) a try.

Wool by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey: The Wool Omnibus – I flew through Howey’s Half Way Home earlier this year.  It was perfect for me, quick pacing, straightforward writing, and plenty of suspense.  Wool comes highly recommended, and I can’t wait to check it out!

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Children of Time, Redemption’s Blade and The Expert System’s Brother – As prolific as Tchaikovsky is, it’s kind of hard to believe I’ve only ever read Walking to Aldebaran, but it’s true.  I did start Children of Time once, and through no fault of the book (reading slump!) never finished.  I’m looking forward to jumping back into that and checking out a few of these others!

The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel: The Singer’s Gun – I didn’t review it, but I listened to Station Eleven a few months ago and adored it.  It was a very surface level post-apocalyptic / sci-fi story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  While looking at what else of her’s I might want to check out, I found the Captain’s review of The Singer’s Gun and immediately added it to my TBR.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde:  The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) – I first heard about the Eyre Affair a few years ago, when I started becoming more active on GoodReads.  I put it off for a long time because while the blurb was very amusing, it wasn’t obviously my kind of humor right away.  Early Riser was a book club read for me earlier this year, and it made me laugh quite a bit, so I’m feeling ready to finally tackle this.

David Wellington: Chimera (Jim Chapel #1) and Monster Island – Wellington wrote The Last Astronaut, which I read over the summer and mostly enjoyed.  Until I started writing this post I actually didn’t even realize he had older titles!  Both of these sound like one of my favorite genre mashups: sci-fi meets horror!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys: Out of the Easy – It seems like everything Sepetys writes turns into a best seller, which is why I was surprised to find this hiding on her booklist.  I got as far as “It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets” before I added this to my list.  Knowing what she’s capable of after having read The Fountains of Silence, I might not even wait until next year.

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa: Revenge – I had never heard of Yoko Ogawa until I read The Memory Police earlier this year.  It was surreal and dreamlike and admittedly weird, but somehow I couldn’t put it down.  So of course I had to look up which other works have been translated, and I knew right from the title I had to read this.  It’s a collection of short fiction revenge stories- and who doesn’t like those?

Stephen Graham Jones:  All the things.  I meant to read Mapping the Interior in November for Native American Heritage Month, and it sort of slipped through my fingers amidst some clunkers and the too many buddy reads I’d committed to.  I did finally sit down and read it yesterday, and fell in love with Jones’s voice.  The ending is super disturbing, but I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be in a horror novel, right?  Anyway.  I want to read all of his stuff, but here are a few of the titles that jumped out at me: After the People Lights Have Gone Off, Demon Theory, The Last Final Girl, and The Least of my Scars (whose one stars reviewers have admitted to giving it one star because it’s that disturbing).

Have you discovered any favorite new-to-you authors this year?  Who were they?

Book Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Early Riser Jasper Fforde

Rating:  ★★★1/2

I’m being more kind with this book than my last couple. The chapter length was on the shorter side (this counts for a lot in my world) and while it wasn’t an edge-of-your-seat style thriller, the intrigue was enough to keep me engaged.

In the beginning, the reader is dumped into this bizarre world where humans hibernate and have winter coats and “bulk up” for winter. It takes a long time for all the pieces to come together and get the hang of it, but on the bright side, there aren’t many info dumps.

I loved all the humor. There were a couple parts that had me laughing out loud. The intrigue takes a while to pull the reader in, but otherwise it was a pretty quick and easy read.

It was a little predictable in terms of the whodunnit, but I think there were enough twists and turns added in to the journey to make it feel unpredictable. Thinking back on the plot, there were a couple plot threads that didn’t contribute much to the overall story, but they provided a little comic relief.

If I could change something about it I think I’d make the world building a little clearer. There’s talk about child bearing responsibilities- I would have liked to know more about why this was necessary? Winter is a killer, okay- but how many people are dying that they need to force child bearing duties upon people? I get that there is a higher rate of death among over winterers, but they don’t seem to number very high, and we aren’t given many stats about how many people aren’t surviving hibernation due to starvation (or lack of nutrition storage?). The given stats don’t add up to making this a necessary requirement.

I was also very unclear on the time line. The latest reference I found was to something in 2003, but some references go back to the 19th century. The technology didn’t seem super advanced, but some of it also wasn’t familiar.

This is a really fun book when you view it as a satire.  There’s a purveying attitude due to hibernation that people should be fat and lazy and eat incredibly high amounts of junk food.  There’s mention of a show called “Albion’s Got Talent” and gossip surrounding it often takes precedence over other, less important scandals.  Guns and other weapons are given silly names like “Bambi” and “Thumper”.  Then there’s Graer Brylls, ultimate tv-lazy man, and the Gronk.  The Gronk being the Gronk may be a coincedence, but as a life-long New Englander and unapologetic Patriots fan, everytime the Gronk was mentioned I was cracking up.  Who The Gronk ended up being made the whole joke even funnier.

There’s also the issue with Morphenox and big pharma.  I won’t delve too far into the issue, but I do think it’s an important one and I think Fforde delivered it very well.  So the satire added to the humor, but in all honesty, it’s the message this book delivers that I loved most.

The other thing I will say is that I think it would have made a fantastic horror novel. The setting was great. Sector 12 was creepy and eerie. The myths and legends about wintervolk added to the horror vibes, but it never went full throttle. Nothing about it is truly scary but it could have been, so it ended up feel like missed potential.

All in all, not a bad read. I might check out other work by Fforde in the future.