What I’m Reading: September & October edition

I’ve been super busy lately and realized, only as I sat down to write my bulk review post for October, that I missed my review post for September. I just finished my Harry Potter series rereadathon, but I’ll save my words for a Harry-centric post in the coming weeks. Until then, here are the other novels I read in September and October:

One of the best perks of being a Thirteener is the opportunity to read fellow members’ books early! We set up a group ARC tour and Shannon Messenger’s LET THE SKY FALL is the first I’ve been able to read! This doesn’t come out until March, so my review is going to be a bit vague–I don’t want to spoil things–but what a fun, unique paranormal romance! The story follows Vane Weston, orphaned after a twister kills his family as a child, and haunted by a dark-haired girl every night in his dreams. Little does he know that said girl, Audra, is real, and a sylph–an air elemental–sworn to protect him. When Vane’s location is mistakenly leaked to those that killed his family, Audra must train him to command the winds as she does before both their lives are at risk.

Paranormal romance is not my preferred genre, but Shannon made me a fan with LTSF. Audra’s power was captivating, and the passages in which she controls the wind were both lyrical and atmospheric. And Vane! The novel is told through alternating POVs, and every time I was in his head I was smiling. Such an authentic, honest voice. And while the story is heavily focused on the romance, there was still plenty of action (training with the winds, fighting the enemy, etc) to keep this action-junkie entertained. If you’re a paranormal romance fan, this is one to not be missed!

 

I wanted to read Dan Krokos’ FALSE MEMORY since I first heard the pitch: A girl (Miranda North) wakes up on a park bench without her memory, only later to discover she is a weapon, skilled in combat and part of a team of genetically-altered teens. Very Jason Bourne with a sci-fi twist, I thought. And speaking of Jason Bourne–you know how those movies open with a bang and don’t seem to let up until the credits roll? This novel was the same: packed with action and twists so intense you’re white-knuckling it through the entire story. I was sucked into from the very first page.

Discovering the truth of Miranda’s world (as well as her personal past) alongside her was addicting. Her relationship with the other three teens like her is complicated, in part due to their predicament, but mostly because Miranda can not remember them. Not even Noah, her boyfriend. And while the action and suspense kept me turning the pages, it was the underlying question in this novel that had me most invested: What truly defines us as an individual? Is it our memories? Our past? Our present? I’m looking forward to the sequel!

 

ROAR AND LIV only came out on Tuesday, and I already devoured it. (In a single sitting, no less!) This is a prequel novella to Veronica Rossi’s UNDER THE NEVER SKY and it focuses on, as the title suggests, the relationship between Roar and Liv, Perry’s sister. It was so much fun not only to be back in this world but also be in Roar’s head. His relationship with Liv is endearing, but it is his bond with Perry that really shines on the page. Their discussion of being brothers, even though Roar will not marry into the family, is incredibly touching. I also really liked how we get to see some of Roar’s flaws in this story. In UtNS he seems to be the comic relief, the friend who makes Perry look less harsh by comparison because he is so easy going and kind-hearted, almost without fault. And Roar is still very much this person in the novella, but we also see how the things he is willing to fight for don’t really extend beyond Liv or Perry. (Whereas Perry feels an obligation to the tribe…to things greater than himself.)

Like always, the writing is smooth and poetic, the pacing upbeat but not rushed. This was a satisfying look at more minor characters from UtNS and how they play into Perry and Aria’s story. Oh, and there are two teaser chapters for THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT at the end of the novella that left me desperate for January. It’s official. I’m a fan. I’ll read anything Rossi writes.

 

I gushed about Maggie Stiefvater’s SCORPIO RACES around this time last year, and now I’m going to gush about THE RAVEN BOYS. Blue Sargent, daughter of a physic, has known that she will kill her true with a kiss since she was a child. But Blue has never thought this would be a problem–she’s resolved to never fall in love–until she crosses paths with some boys from the nearby private school: the Raven Boys. Gansey, leader of the group, is seeking a legend in the woods of Henrietta, Virginia, and as Blue helps them complete their quest, their fates seem very much entwined.

Like SCORPIO RACES this is a genre bender, which I believe Maggie truly excels at. The supernatural aspects of this novel are woven into the vibrant Henrietta countryside masterfully. So masterfully, in fact, that even the most shocking reveals in the story seem so very possible (if not obvious) after they unfold. (Much of this comes down to genius plotting, as well.) The writing is as gorgeous and atmospheric as ever (I seriously want to live between the lines!), but it is the characters that shine most in this book. The Raven Boys–Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah–feel so very real. I want to grab a slice of pizza with them, bum around in vintage cars, sit in their ridiculously exuberant apartment (a refurbished old factory building). They jump off the page, layered and nuanced. They are so different, and yet each so loveable. Blue, too, is expertly drawn. My only gripe with the entire novel is that the stakes–the big IF established in the prologue–never comes to fruition. Gansey’s quest, too, seems to only just be starting when the novel comes to a close. But this is the first of a four book series, and since I feel like I could read about the Raven Boys for ten more installments, I’m in luck. Seriously. I adored this.

 

I read Gillian Flynn’s debut, SHARP OBJECTS, several years ago and instantly fell in love with her prose (lush but not overwritten) and the dark, twisted nature of her story-telling. I’ve been a fan for awhile and when I started seeing fabulous reviews of GONE GIRL, I knew I was bound to love it. And I did.

Nick and Amy Dunne are a happy, married couple of five years–at least on the surface. But on the day of their fifth anniversary, Amy goes missing. All signs point to a kidnapping/murder, with Nick as a very probable suspect. Told in alternating POVs, (Nick in the present, Amy via diary entries), the true nature of their rocky marriage is revealed, as well as the instability of their character. This is one of those novels that has to be read to be appreciated, not to mention that saying too much will ruin the very things that make the story fabulous. I will say only that I was sucked in from the very first line and that Flynn is a master of suspense and characterization. Nick and Amy feel so real they could be your neighbors–the same is true for the secondary characters as well. I saw a few twists coming, but it didn’t diminish how much I enjoyed the book. This is a twisted, thrilling, and entirely entertaining read. And the ending! Perhaps the best final lines of a novel I have read in a long time. Chills. Chills, everywhere. Highly recommend.

That’s it for me! What did you read recently that was awesome? Oh, and don’t forget–if you haven’t already, there’s still time to request free TAKEN swag (bookmarks, bookplates, and stickers). Fill out the form here.

It’s also November now, which means two things:

  1. » NaNoWriMo starts today! I participated a few years ago and had a blast. This year I’m going to use the event as a means to chip away at a WIP. If you’re participating, you can add me as a buddy here and learn about what else I’m doing to celebrate the month of novel-writing here.
  2. » Name that book has been rescheduled for next week. (Technically we should be playing tonight since it’s the first Thursday of the month, but I’m going to postpone. So many people are still without power because of Sandy, and I want everyone to be able to play. Fingers crossed the lights come back on asap.)

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