What I’m Reading: September Edition

My reading pace was down a bit this month. Work at the day job was incredibly crazy – any of you following me on Twitter know what I’m talking about – and as a result, I got through fewer books than I would have liked. There’s just never enough time! If a magic genie appeared and told me I could have one wish, I’d ask for super-speedy reading skills in a heartbeat.

Anyway, here’s what I read this month:

Kiersten White’s PARANORMALCY. This book surprised me. I’m not a huge paranormal reader, and I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would. First of all, it’s funny. FUNNY! The world itself is serious, with high stakes, but Evie tells her tale with such a refreshing blend of humor and wit, that I chuckled through half the book.

And Evie. Can we talk about how bleeping awesome Evie is? I absolutely loved that she is more of a girly-girl but still kicks butt. I’ve read so many tough-girl heroines lately (Katniss, Tris, etc), and while I love those ladies just as much, I thoroughly enjoyed how Evie stood apart from them. She loves fashion, digs pink, swoons over guys, and still has a level head on her shoulder. She is girly and she embraces that and rocks it the entire way through the book. On top of it all, those tough girls I mentioned above? Evie still channels half of their personalities, too! She is brave. She is confident. She challenges the status quo and asks questions. She is who she is and she never apologizes for that. Go, Evie! You rock.

There’s also an adorable romance that is full of flirty glances and first touches. And a brooding faerie who was glorious shades of gray. I loved him so much I can barely wait to get my hands on the sequel. And let’s not forget Evie’s taser, pink no less. With rhinestones. Yes, rhinestones. You know you want one.

 

I’d heard a lot of great things about Ilsa Bick’s ASHES, and I love me some apocalypse, so I anxiously snatched it up. The first half of this book is an incredibly fantastic, edge-of-your-seat, bite-your-lip survival story. An electromagnetic pulse pretty much ends life as we know it, killing most adults and leaving the majority of children as Changed. (Changed is just a nice word for zombie, really). Alex is stranded in the mountains with nothing but the pack on her back and an annoying young girl tagging along until they join forces with Tom, a soldier on leave. The three seem safe (read: Unchanged), but they are left to fend for themselves, both in the mountains, and the world beyond, when they finally make it out of the forests.

The world post-EMP is very much like McCarthy’s THE ROAD. Everyone for themselves. Fight to stay alive. Point guns at each other and steal food from people that need it. Scavenge. It is terrifyingly realistic and haunting. Alex and Co. keep their heads in all the drama, as well as a sense of right/wrong. I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough. But half-way through the book, an event forces the three to split up. This is where the book took a turn that I didn’t enjoy as much. I can’t talk to the second half of the story without ruining the book, but I will say it felt like two distinctly separate stories to me. And there’s a cliffhanger that was awesome (in regards to the twist), but left me hanging (nearly all the things I desperately needed closure on where left unresolved).

There is no doubt that Bick is a talented writer, though, capable of weaving a high-stakes survival story that is rich and haunting. I mean, there were times I felt I needed to run to the store and stock up on iodine tablets, beef jerky, and flashlights. She did her job, and did it well. (I think I really might go get some iodine tablets now…)

 

The cover alone made me want to read MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, by Ransom Riggs. That levitating girl, the grays, the handwritten font – all amazing! I wrote an in-depth review of this novel as part of Tracey Neithercott’s Fall Book Club just the other day (read it here), but for those of you that want the short version: This book is full of the creepy. I enjoyed the feeling of mystery and the eerie vintage photos are a unique exploration in story-telling. The second half of the novel felt more MG to me than the beginning, but the story is still an enjoyable read.

 

Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING. Where do I even begin? This was my favorite read of September, but I have a feeling it’s going to belong on my list of favorite reads, period. This world is so rich and realized that each time I opened the book I felt I was slipping into the pages. I loved the idea of Graces, how certain individuals were marked by a select skill, but that skill was not always what it appeared. As characters learn more about themselves in this novel, they learn more about their Grace, as well. Katsa and Po were no exception to this.

I must admit I didn’t really like Katsa. She’s not someone I’d want to hang out with it – she’s stubborn, rude, overworks her horses, and firmly believes that marriage will cause her to “lose herself” even if she where to find a boy that embraces her for who she is and doesn’t ask her to change – but I still loved her story. Loved. I clung to every word of it. For all her faults, Katsa is still admirable. She is brave and courageous. She acknowledges that a Grace can be used for both good and bad, and she chooses to stand on the side of good. But Po, oh my does this boy have my heart in his hands. What an amazing, graceful, fantastic character. Actually, all the characters in this story are wonderfully developed. They leap off the pages.

This is one of those odd books that is both slow and fast at the same time. There is tension built around every moment, but the book unfolds in this magically calm way. While I had my issues with Katsa’s personality, the adventure and journey in this book is incredible and I cannot wait to read more of this world. I think that’s what I’m in love with here: the world, the writing, the imagery so rich it overflows and spills into your lap. I feel so fortunate that I don’t have to wait to go pick up Cashore’s next book set in the Seven Kingdoms. FIRE, here I come!

That’s all, folks. How about you? What was your favorite read in September?

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