Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Reading -- A Top Ten On Tuesday

Hey look, a Top Ten on Tuesday that's on a Tuesday! Daylight Savings Time must be working its magic on my mood. Thanks to the Broke and the Bookish for the prompt.

Disclaimer: these are my top ten anticipated reads as of this moment. Ask me this question tomorrow or next week and it's a certainty that there will be significant variation between the different compilations. But, if you are willing to accept that this is a piece of ephemera, here you go. My focus here is on adult books that will be published this Spring or are only recently out -- I could do separate lists of young adult and backlist titles I'd like to get to during the next few months without breaking a sweat.

Please let me know in the comments what you are looking forward to reading this spring. New or old, any genre -- it's all good!

First up is a trio of books that I would classify as Fantasy/Science Fiction, though I think all three may be of interest to readers who don't dabble in those genres:

The Chronicle of Secret Riven by Ronlyn Domingue -- A strange child, arcane texts, ill-fated mothers and mysterious destinies, plus a tremendous cover? I am itching to get to this one. Usually I avoid starting a series in the middle, but I am making an exception here since events in this book are set a millennia after those in The Mapmaker's War (though I have a copy of the first volume on order from Main Point Books).

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon -- I am ashamed to say I only learned of this book because someone at the publisher decided to invite me to read it on Netgalley. Whoever you are, thank you, thank you!

I have a weakness for novels that are predicated on a love of literature and words, especially as we wade ever deeper into lives dominated by digital media. Will books vanish into history? In Alena Graedon's debut novel they very nearly have. Her heroine, Anana Johnson, is the daughter of one of the last holdouts of the analog age, the aptly named Douglas Samuel Johnson, editor of the final print edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language. When Doug vanishes, leaving only the code word ALICE as a clue, Anana begins a quest that will lead her to secret societies, resistance movements and conspiracies.

I've already dipped my toe into this and was tickled to find that even the table of contents is part of the book's conceit: there is a chapter for each letter of the alphabet, with the chapter titles containing literary and linguistic references. If the writing and the characters are as strong as the opening suggests, I will slurp this up. Is this The Name of the Rose for the digital age? Fingers crossed that it is.

The Martian by Andy Weir -- this one is already on the bestseller list and I have read enough of the first chapter to be understand why. It will be few days before I can get back to it, but it looks to be as well-thought out and as exciting as the buzz is making out to be.

Now onto more 'literary' reads.

 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr -- this historical novel is getting rave reviews on Goodreads from people I trust. This long awaited books is the story of a blind young woman and a German soldier whose lives intersect in Saint-Malo during World War II. By all accounts it is immersive, brilliantly researched, moving and thought provoking. I am clearing a few days when there is no one here but the cats to give myself the chance to to be swallowed up, because that seems to be how this book works.

 Frog Music by Emma Donoghue -- Like so many people, I loved Room and have been waiting for next novel since then. She's long been known as a skilled historical fiction writer and I'm excited that she has shifted continents with this new book to write a mystery based on a real life murder in San Francisco in 1876. I admit I still have to read her backlist, so after I finish this, I think I may hold a personal Emma Donoghue reading festival later in April.

 The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman -- I enjoyed Rachman's The Imperfectionists several years ago. I didn't think it held together as a novel, but I was impressed with his writing and evident talent. This book sounds like one I will find more satisfying -- rich, cohesive and full of satisfyingly idiosyncratic characters.

The Quick by Lauren Owen -- Ah, the power of the blurb! In this case three blurbs by three authors whose taste I trust unreservedly: Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel, and Tana French. If I had seen nothing but the blurbs I would be all over this book, but when the jacket copy talks about vanished shy poets just down from Oxford, a sister determined to find out what happened to him, secret societies and the weird characters inhabiting the fringe of Victorian London, there is no choice but to line up to read the damn book.

Life Drawing by Robin Black -- This one may not be fair since I'm going to be reading this spring, but it's not released until this summer. Still, I've been waiting to for it since I heard Robin read the opening chapter or so last Spring.

Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman -- I enjoyed the Mommy Track mysteries and Ayelet's essays, but I've been waiting for her to find a topic that would propel her more literary writing to the next level. With this holocaust themed novel I think she's found it. I haven't read the book yet, but the early buzz is good and the topic just feels like one that is made for her.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway -- This doesn't come out until the end of July (on my birthday as it happens), but I hope I can beg, borrow or steal an early copy (worst case scenario I'll import one from the UK where it is launching on May 22). I loved Angelmaker with a passion unbecoming a staid middle aged lady, though I have yet to read The Gone-Away World. My defense is that once I read it I won't have it any other Nick Harkaway books to look forward to, but now that a new novel is on the horizon, maybe I can let my guard down.

Right, that should keep me busy. Somehow I'll have to fit in all the other books I am looking forward to, plus time to review some I've already read.

Speaking of reviews, tomorrow I'm starting a string of review postings with a look at Jeremy P. Bushnell's smart and entertaining The Weirdness and on Thursday I'm taking a look at a few of the free standing e-novellas that have become a major tool in helping to build and maintain interest in multi-volumed book series. 

What are you looking to read this Spring?


  1. I'm very curious about Donoghue's latest- Frog Music! Life Drawing caught my eye too. Such a great cover. Happy spring reading :)

    1. Ah, spring! Here's hoping the weather allows us to read outside soon and maybe see a frog or two.

  2. Great list. I hadn't heard of most of these.

    1. Cool -- I hope some of them sparked your curiosity. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I am looking forward to reading your blog


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