What I’m Reading: October Edition

For those of you following me on Twitter, you know I have been without power since Saturday. Hooray, Snowtober! In some wonderful stroke of genius (read: luck), I had drafted this review post on Friday before the storm, and was able to quickly push it live from work today. This is perhaps the one thing that has been easy this week.

Either way, I read so many good books this month. Seriously. This was probably my best month of reading EVER. I have no clue how I’m going to pick a favorite. Tracey Neithercott recommended flipping a coin and truthfully, that’s starting to look pretty attractive.

So here’s what I read during Snowtober:

Two of my favorite authors (John Green and David Levithan) come together to write WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON and for some reason it takes me ages to actually read it. Unacceptable!

This book is both incredibly serious and incredibly hilarious at the same time. I laughed out loud during some passages and in others found myself reflecting on how deep and sincere the story was.

The story follows two Will Graysons, one written by Green and the other by Levithan, who are leading very different lives until they cross paths in a porn shop in Chicago one night. (Trust me, the reason they are both in the porn shop is not what you’d think). Green’s WG is a quiet guy with a shut-up and don’t care mentality caught between loving and hating his best friend, Tiny Cooper, who manages to always embarrass him or complicate even the most basic of circumstances; Tiny is anything but small (massive football player) and seems to be in love with a new boy every day (or hour). Levithan’s WG is struggling with depression and self-loathing, and can’t seem to open up to anyone in his life except for an online friend (Issac) who he heads off to Chicago to meet, only to have his world fall apart.

Tiny Cooper ends up being the central thread in this story – in fact, the book could potentially have been called Tiny Cooper, Tiny Cooper. He is annoying but loveable, gracious and yet sometimes selfish. While Tiny stages the most amazing high school musical I have ever read in contemporary YA, he manages to help both Will Graysons step beyond the identities they have assumed so far in life. The WG Green wrote may be my favorite of Green’s MCs (more than Quinten or Colin or even Pudge). He is still a little dorky and shy, obsessed with a girl slightly out of his league, but he had this spark of sarcasm in him that I loved. He stood up for Tiny and himself. He was often incredibly honest even when his #1 Rule was to shut up. He stood apart from Green’s other male MCs. And Levithan’s WG is so mean and then so vulnerable. The depth of his depression is clearly communicated, as well as the struggles he faces each day. I’m not sure I’ve read a character like him before. And somehow, even with all these weighty topics, the book is a quick, light, and humorous read. At its core it touches on love and phenomenon of falling into it, as well as identity – how who you are is so often defined by how others perceive you. I truly loved this book.

 

Kristin Cashore’s FIRE. Oh, this book. It was quieter than GRACELING, with less action, but I loved it just the same. This novel is set before Graceling and in a different part of the Seven Kingdoms, where monster beasts exist within many animal races. Fire is the last human monster. She is feared but lusted after, and she has learned to not trust men. While not “graced” like Katsa, she has the ability to “speak” to humans, using her monster powers to bend their will or get truthful answers. She keeps this power sedated though, believing it is unjust of her to “steal” from the minds of unassuming people.

But much like Katsa, Fire decides to use her powers for good when circumstances permit and she joins forces with the king in an attempt to uncover a plot to overthrow him. The dynamics between characters throughout this novel was fantastic. People are caught between intense hate and love for Fire, which always puts her at risk. The one man who seems to be able to control himself in her presence is Prince Brigan, and the secret behind this comes to the surface in a satisfyingly slow reveal. The romance that blossoms in this book is slow as well, a steady thing that grows after months of friendship and trust and honesty. It was so different than Katsa and Po, but while not as fierce, it was equally convincing.

Cashore is an incredible storyteller, graced with a seemingly endless supply of creativity. I am so anxious to get my hands on BITTERBLUE. In a way, I feel lucky for not discovering these books until this year because now I only have a few months to wait before returning to the world of the Seven Kingdoms. How have you other readers managed these last three years?

 

Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE has been getting a ton of praise and I was anxious to get my hands on a copy. I read this book as a part of Tracey’s Fall Book Club and you can read my in-depth review here, but for those of you that want the short version: This story is weird. Delightfully weird. And wonderfully strange. And masterfully written. It is angels and demons as you’ve never read then before and I simply cannot wait for the sequel!

 

It was so, so hard to pick a favorite read this month, but I have settled on Stephanie Perkins’s LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. Why? This was the only book I caught myself still thinking about days after closing the cover.

I had only one fault with this novel, one small tiny instance near the end where I thought Lola acted wise beyond her years, but everything else is pure gold. Lola is spunky and inventive and believes in costume over fashion. Her dads are fantastic, supportive parents. The dog is named Heavens to Betsy (come on, GOLD!). Anna and Etienne make cameo appearances (several times over) and some wonderfully rich family dynamics come into play when Lola’s birth mother re-enters the story. And then of course, there’s the boy next store.

Cricket Bell. Somehow, this book managed to make me seventeen again, pining over this boy, dissecting everything he said, decoding every glance or shoulder shrug. And while I swooned over Etienne while reading ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, I loved Cricket more. Some of this might have to do with his appearance, which reminds me of The Engineer (OK, so maybe I’m bias). Cricket is a tall, gangly tinker-er, making odd contraptions and inventions all while wearing pants that never fall quite as long as they should. He is also so darn sweet it will break your heart. Every time Cricket or Lola were on the page together I sat there smirking and thinking, kiss! kiss! How does Perkins do this to me?

This book had all the sweet, adorable, love-budding sexual tension that existed in ANNA, but something about this book felt more real to me. Perhaps it was because they were in the States, and parents were present, and I can relate more easily to the streets of San Fran than the Eiffel Tower. Either way, this book is magical. How Stephanie Perkins makes me grin like an idiot while reading about fictional characters, I have no idea. I spent a solid five days after reading this book replaying the ending in my head and smiling to myself. I am a permanent fan from here on out. Stephanie, keep writing these, please? I will read every last one.

Phew, I am physically exhausted from having to analyze all these amazing books. Too much awesome. How about you? What was your favorite read in October?

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