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An early look at upcoming 2020 books.

I hit an ARC jackpot at Edelweiss last month and got to read some of the most anticipated books of 2020.  The only one I didn’t get that I wanted was The Glass Hotel (come on Knopf!)

(All publication dates are US)

88 Names – Matt Ruff Pub date:  March 17, 2020

Darling Rose Gold – Stephanie Wrobel Pub Date:  March 17, 2020

Death in Her Hands – Ottessa Moshfegh Pub Date: April 21, 2020

Shakespeare for Squirrels – Christopher Moore Pub date:  May 12. 2020

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88 Names – Matt Ruff Pub date:  March 17, 2020 4.25/5 stars

Matt Ruff is an author I will always read. He’s not prolific, and he doesn’t have a formula. He’s a great writer, funny and has lots of topics to tackle. I like that about him – you never know what you’ll get.

This book was about video games – simplistically – on a deeper level it was about society, gender, race, technology, identity and cyber-life. All those topics tackled in what feels like a love letter to video games, specifically “Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games” MMORPG’s.

It’s no surprise that Ruff has been involved in gaming for many years, though I’m not sure if he’d call himself a gamer. It was hard to tell from the authors note. Not being a gamer myself I don’t know if all the game play he described was made up or derivative, but whatever it was, it was fun!

This is not another version of Ready Player One, though there are obviously aspects. It’s more like a suspense/thriller set in video games.  Another thing I thought was interesting in this book was Ruff’s take on cyber-sex.  After reading Winterson’s take on technological sex in Frankisstein, I found Ruff’s take more palatable and interesting.

A fun book, hard to put down and gives you a lot to think about.


Darling Rose Gold – Stephanie Wrobel Pub Date:  March 17, 2020 3.5/5 stars

darling

I think when your mother names you Rose Gold, it’s a pretty good bet abuse will follow.

This book one of the most anticipated for 2020, and I guess I can understand why but wow it is hard to enjoy. Everybody knows the basic premise …. Munchausen by proxy. Obviously, it’s not going to be a feelgood book.

The characters are super unlikable (unsurprising) and so many times I cringed. It’s harsh, disturbing and dark. Not in the way I typically enjoy. I also guessed the outcome about midway through which was a bit disappointing as well.

On the plus side, it was an impressive debut novel. Well-written, well-paced, and absolutely impossible to put down. You wanted so badly to root for Rose Gold.

People are probably going to love this book. For me, it was too upsetting to love but good enough to really appreciate.


Death in Her Hands – Ottessa Moshfegh Pub Date: April 21, 2020 4.5/5 stars

death

First, if you have interest in this book don’t read the Goodread’s reviews. (mine’s safe.) I scanned them and saw something which colored my reading of this book and I’m not even sure the person was correct. I’m not even sure what happened myself.

Moshfegh is pretty remarkable. I don’t know if anything will ever compare to the brilliance of My Year of Rest and Relaxation for me, but this was definitely Moshfegh. (Dark, funny, character driven, stuff I couldn’t even possibly think of.) A character study within a character study.

Could have been 5 star for me, but there were some parts that really dragged. I loved the concept, and the way she really got in (and brought us in) to the mind of the main character. A lot of stream of consciousness, though, which is not my thing at all.

This definitely won’t be for everybody, but I think if you really appreciate her previous works, you should appreciate this as well. Now I’m off to read other people’s reviews for some clarity!


Shakespeare for Squirrels – Christopher Moore Pub date:  May 12. 2020  4/5 stars

sfs

If it wasn’t for Christopher Moore, I’d get no Shakespeare at all! We resume our travels with Pocket of Dog Snogging in this nod to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Moore fans love Pocket … and squirrels for some reason.

This was clever, creative and funny. I thought I knew A Midsummer NIght’s Dream better than I actually do. In fact, turns out that one reading in 7th grade didn’t really stick. If I’d known the source material better, I think I would have appreciated it more. As it was, I watched a really bizarre version of it. Shakespeare with iPads. (It was a TV version, from 2016 … I need to watch another version.) After watching that my appreciation for the book grew even more. I loved Moore’s take on the various aspects of the play.

Super fun book.

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