What I’m Reading: November Edition

November was a very busy month and it seems like it flew by. How is it already December? Seriously, some one consult a calendar and tell me how this happened. I only got through four books this month, but seeing how I also had to turn in my second round of revisions on TAKEN, I consider this a major success.

So let’s talk about what I read:

SUPERNATURALLY is the second book in Kiersten White’s PARANORMALCY trilogy. I read book one last month and was just smitten with Evie and her girly bad-ass-ness (you can read that review here). I picked up the sequel anxious for more.

Evie finally has her locker. For those of you who haven’t read the first in the series, Evie is constantly craving some level of high-school teen normalcy and she gets it in this sequel. Sort-of. While she’s attending a public high school and using said locker, Lend is off at college, putting some long-distance strain on their relationship. And then Evie somehow gets pulled back into work at the IPCA despite her best efforts to avoid it.

There is a lot to love about this sequel – Evie is still strong, and hilarious, and generally a blast to hang out with – but I missed Lend! And Reth. (Lend was not as present in this story, and Reth, even less so.) Jack, a new character introduced in this novel, is mysterious (which had me turning pages) but also incredibly frustrating (Seriously, Evie. Tase that boy, please! You should not have to put up with his ridiculousness). I’ll be really interested to see where things go in ENDLESSLY, the series’ final installment. I have a sneaky suspicion that Reth is going to reappear with a bang (and thank goodness! I know I’m not supposed to like him, as a character, but I can’t help myself). I’m also interested to see how Lend and Evie’s relationship continues to grow, especially with Reth and Jack popping in all the time and creating roadblocks.

 

I was fortunate to snag an ARC of Dan Wells’ forthcoming PARTIALS, which I had been eying enviously since I saw the deal pop up on Publishers Marketplace. The premise is simply delicious – It’s 2076 and the world has been decimated by RM, a virus released by the Partials (basically, genetically engineered super-soldiers) after they turned on their creators (humans). Millions died, and since the virus’ release, no baby survives more than a few hours after it’s birth. Kira is a medic living in a barricaded area of Long Island, safe from the Partials, were she works alongside others to try to find a cure for RM.

The world-building in this novel is spectacular. Everything is thought out and meticulously detailed, from salvage missions to find still-operable generators to power portions of the city, to the workings of computer software programs that help Kira examine blood samples and test out RM theories. Some very interesting topics are also broached throughout the course of the novel — How many freedoms are we willing to give up in order to maintain “safety” from our enemies? How many rights will we surrender to keep hope alive?

This is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller with no shortage of twists and turns. While the race to the end is quite a ride, I must admit I sometimes felt a little distanced from the characters. This could be to do the third-persona narrative, or the generally fast-paced and high-stakes nature of the novel, but I never quite connected with Kira the way I wished. She is a fearless protagonist, though, and discovering truths along side her is invigorating. The novel answered just enough questions by its close to leave me satisfied, but left ample threads dangling for the sequel. Fans of science fiction thrillers should definitely try this one.

 

THE SELECTION, by Kiera Cass, was another book I’ve been dying to read, and again, I was so lucky to get my hands on an ARC. There’s a blurb on the cover from Kiersten White that says something along the lines of “Charming, captivating, and the perfect amount of swoon.” This could not be more true.

The novel follows America Singer as she leaves her home, and a secret relationship with a boy from the caste below her, to competes alongside 35 other girls for the heart of her country’s prince. The book has been pitched as THE HUNGER GAMES meets THE BACHELOR, and I’ve seen some eyebrow raising on goodreads in regards to this. Let me clear something up: In my opinion, this novel has the feel of HUNGER GAMES, in the sense that there are makeovers and interviews and coverage is broadcast across the nation, while the Selection itself leverages the premise of THE BACHELOR, with the prince dating, getting to know, and then “voting off” girls as he narrows them down to find his future wife (and queen). But this book is much, much more than just a mash-up of these two elements.

Underneath the competition we meet a young girl who is struggling to understand who she wants to become in a world that tells you who you are from birth (you are born into a per-defined class, with career roles already established for you). It is also a story of young love, how your first love may be one you hold on to for longer than you should (because it feels right), or how you should truthfully never let it go (because it is right). I loved America’s spunk and confidence. And I loved watching her journey, especially her ever-changing opinions regarding Prince Maxon. I’m excited to see what everyone else thinks of this novel come April. Personally, I thought it was enchanting.

 

My favorite book this month was hands down Maggie Stievfater’s THE SCORPIO RACES. I actually reviewed (read: gushed about) this book earlier this week as part of Tracey Neithercott’s Fall Book Club so what I type here will be brief, but know this: I. Love. This. Book.

This book is gorgeous and stunning and incredibly moving. It follows Sean and Puck as they train for the deadly and risky Scorpio Races, which they have both entered for different reasons. Maggie’s prose goes down like butter. She sets mood and tone in ways that seem so natural, I envy her for it. The quiet, steady build of this book rooted me on the island of Thisby and left me teary-eyed by the end. And the horses! They are amazing (and terrifying). Especially Sean’s. The way Maggie makes you feel for these characters and creatures is truly masterful. Sean + Corr (his horse) = magic beyond words.

You can (and should) read my full, gushing review here. There’s even a chance to win a copy if you don’t own one already, and you can enter until midnight tonight.

So that’s all I have. On to another fun month of reading. But first, tell me: What was the best book you read in November?

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