With all the end-of-2013 posts, I nearly forgot to do my bulk reviews for last month. Better late than never, yes?
Here’s what I read in December:
SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen
This Robin Hood retelling was such a treat. Scarlet is a female thief within Robin’s band of men, hiding behind men’s clothing and the alias Will Scarlet. Only Robin and a few of his most trusted accomplices know she’s a girl. But when a new Thief Taker, Gisbourne, arrives in Nottinghamshire to round up the Hood and his men, things get complicated. Because there are truths Scarlet hasn’t even told Robin, and her history with Gisbourne runs deep.
This is written in a rugged, blunt dialect, and I fell in love with Scarlet by the end of the first chapter. She’s spunky and brash and tells it like it is. The banter between characters, and Scarlet’s dark past (not to mention her conflicting feelings towards Robin and closed-off nature) made this a joy to read. The world-building is rich but not overwhelming, and the twist at the end was incredibly satisfying. Cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel.
ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King
This was my first A.S. King novel, and it won’t be my last. Astrid Jones is struggling with a question that everyone is rushing her to answer—Am I gay?—and she has no one to discuss her feelings with. Her mother is pushy, her father distant. She can no longer relate to her sister, and even her best friend seems to be growing apart from her. So while lying in her backyard, Astrid talks to the passengers—the people flying over her small Pennsylvania town—and sends them her love and secrets.
Told in a profoundly moving first-person narration, this book packs a punch. It’s an issue book, a family drama, a first love, a coming-of-age. I can’t do it justice in this mini-review, but it broke my heart and made me hopeful all at once. Astrid Jones, I send you my love!
STRANGE AND EVER AFTER by Susan Dennard
Santa sent me an ARC of Strange and Ever After, the final book in the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy, and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. In full disclosure, I am good friends and critique partners with Susan, but I promise you my love for this story is genuine. I’d read the first two thirds of this book in word doc form, and loved it. I read the ending in bound ARC form and cried happy, bittersweet tears.
There is so much to love about this book. Pyramids! Necromancy! Mummies and magic and flying airships! Susan brought 1876 Philadelphia and Paris to life effortless in the previous installments, and she succeeds again in S&EA with Egypt. The scenery is rich and the plot thrilling (think Indiana Jones meets The Mummy). And the ending! This is one of my favorite trilogy conclusions. Everyone is changed. Everyone has grown, especially Eleanor, and no one gets there without sacrifice. The final chapter was as beautiful and moving and as close to perfect as an author can get. Miss Fitt will always hold a dear place in my heart.
What about you? What did you read and love in December?