What I’m Reading: January edition

This past month was perhaps my busiest in a very, very long time, and yet I somehow read a record number of books. Go figure!

Here’s what I read in January:

CATCHING JORDAN by Miranda Kenneally was such a pleasant surprise! I could really relate to Jordan because I was one of those “jock” girls in high school. I played sports, got along better with the guys, and enjoyed pigging out nearly as much as I did working myself to death at a hard practice. This novel was full of adorably sweet moments. Jordan’s best friend, Henry, steals the show though. He had me laughing out loud, literally, several times throughout the novel. One of those instance may or may not have included a fake baby named Jerry Rice. But while much of this book is sweet and light, there are some lovely undertones as well — about family and friendships, dedication and dreams, love and lust. I can’t wait to read what’s next from Kenneally!

 

John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS was almost my favorite read this month, but then I read a book that beat it out by just a fraction of an inch. Coincidentally, they both dealt with cancer and love and loss. TFioS is perhaps the funniest sad book I have ever read. I alternated between hysterical laughing and uncontrollable sobs over the course of this novel. There is very little I can say about it coherently other than the fact that I loved it — I was hugging the book upon completion — and that it is my favorite of Green’s since LOOKING FOR ALASKA. The characters are still smart and sarcastic, a stable of Green’s protagonists, but I felt an ability to relate to them in a way I hadn’t since Pudge left in search of a great perhaps. If you haven’t read this one yet, you should.

Also, this one line: I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once. Perfection! I instantly added it to the list of quotes associated with the book on goodreads, something I’ve never done before. It is such a wonderful line and I had to share it.

Oh, oh, oh! And venn diagrams. This books has the best venn diagrams known to man. That is all.

 

The best part of joining Pub Crawl as a blogging contributor has been the opportunity to read all the other member’s MSs. OK, maybe not the best part, but it is definitely a perk. The ever-lovely Kat Zhang let me read her upcoming debut WHAT’S LEFT OF ME and I am so very grateful! The novel follows Addie and Eva, two souls living in a singular body. In their world, souls are supposed to settle at a young age, picking one dominant soul while the other fades into oblivion. In Addie and Eva’s case, neither girl won out and the girls live with Eva’s identity still present, but secret. The way dialog is handled between these two girls is fascinating, often treated like an internal monolog. Where most people would say “I,” they say “we.” I want to say this is a story about sisters, but it’s not. Not really. Addie and Eva share an even tighter bond, and their relationship in this book is simultaneously beautiful and claustrophobic. They are never one without the other. WHAT’S LEFT OF ME comes out this September.

 

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD!! This novel by Kendare Blake is one I had heard nothing but good things about. I put off reading it for so long because I despise being scared, but eventually curiosity got the best of me. I’m so glad i picked it up. I love Cas. Boy, do I love him. It is so refreshing to read a YA novel told from the boy’s POV and Cas is nothing short of awesome. He is tough and determined and hilarious to boot. The book wasn’t so much as terrifying as it was creepy. Between ghosts and voodoo and witchcraft and mystery, there were several scenes where I read just a little quicker, worried something was going to jump out at me from between the pages. Anna’s history is equally entertaining. This novel stood out as unique to me; very different than anything I’ve read these last few months and thoroughly enjoyable.

 

Marie Lu’s LEGEND reads like a blockbuster; it is no wonder the film rights have already been snatched up. Day and June are both compelling characters who grew up in very different situations. Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal, living a scavenging life on the streets, while June leads a privileged life, training as the Republic’s protegee soldier. Their paths overlap when June sets out to find the person who murdered her older brother. While I sometimes had a hard time believing that two characters could be so skilled and talented  — especially while being so young (they are only 15!!) — I had no problem sympathizing with them and rooting for them to the end. Day, especially, won my heart. Packed with action, this is a great novel for adrenaline-junkies and lovers of dystopias.

 

LOVE & LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay is the first verse novel I have read in a very long time. I knew nothing about it when I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised by the story. When Marcie’s father announces that he is gay and pursuing things with a new boyfriend, Marcie and her mother head to New Hampshire for the summer. Her mother, however, slips into a bought of depression and when September arrives, Marcie finds herself still separated from her home, friends, and boyfriend in Idaho, and attending a new high school in Durham, NH. There is so much emotion packed into the sparse prose. Marcie deals with a broken family, the crippling depression of her mother, and the pull between love and lust (her boyfriend at home, and a far too cute guy at her new school). While a few plot points may seem a stretch beyond believable, I found this to be a touching novel about family, friendship, and passion.

 

Last month I gushed about Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS, and this month I’m going to gush a little more…about the first novella in the ToG series, THE ASSASSIN AND THE PIRATE LORD. This is one of four novellas to be published in the coming months, each of which precede the events in ToG. In this novella, a younger (but still stubborn and brave) Celaena is sent by the Assassin’s Guild to collect a debt owed by the Pirate Lord. What she finds is a payment not of money, but of slaves, throwing her into a moral dilemma. Though it is a quick and easy read, this novella is packed with action and intrigue. It is impossible to not root for Celaena and her partner-in-crime, Sam. You will lose yourself in the swashbucklingly epic adventure and you will enjoy every minute of it!

 

I read yet another fellow Pub Crawl gal’s MS this month, Susan Dennard’s SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY, which comes out July 24th! Let me just say upfront that this book surprised me in the best way possible. I knew very little going in, and the cover lead me to believe the book would be filled with glitz and glamor and pretty dresses; a quieter type of read. There were plenty of corsets and parasols, but oh my goodness is this book packed with action! And when I say action I mean zombies, and escapes, and chases, and spirits, and scandals! Eleanor is such a fabulous protagonist — she is determined and stubborn but incredibly passionate –and the Spirit Hunters are so very epic (they remind me of Ghost Busters of the past, with a bit of steampunk thrown in). My favorite part of this novel though was the setting. Dennard brings a historic Philadelphia to life effortlessly, and this alternate history, walking Dead thriller, is a total romp. I am thoroughly looking forward to the sequel!

 

And my favorite read of January…

Kiersten White blogged about A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness awhile ago. I thought the book sounded fabulous and I added it to my TBR list. It took me forever to get around to reading this novel, and I really wish I hadn’t waited so long, because this was my favorite novel this month.

I recently recommended this book on Pub Crawl, and you can read the full review there, but this is such a gorgeous, haunting, lyrical, and honest story about life, love, and loss. The illustrations capture the mood and tone of the novel perfectly. Conor deals with some horrible situations (bullying, broken families, illness and death) and he does it with such authenticity that I was left in tears by the final page. Read this book. It is beautiful and you will love it.

Man, does a review post of this size leave me exhausted! What was the best book you read in January?

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