What I’m Reading: January

Another month has flown by. Here’s what I read in January:

INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi
Saying goodbye to a series you love is never easy. I hate having to part with these characters, and yet I am so grateful for having gone on a journey with them.

I enjoyed the first two books a tad more than this final installment one, but I  managed to read ITSB  in under 24hrs, so clearly, I still loved it. This is an action-packed, satisfying conclusion to a wonderfully unique series. As Perry and the Tides attempt to find the Still Blue, relationships are tested and characters are pushed to physical and emotional limits. Roar is struggling to overcome grief. Aria is left as a leader to the Dwellers, and a bridge between them and the Outsiders. Perry, like always, has so much responsibility on his shoulders and is trying to stay afloat. I adore these characters, but my favorite part of this series is the underlying theme of home and family. Sometimes we are changed and can never “go home,” so to speak. Then again, home is where you make it.

 

NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis
Lynn has grown up with her mother, vigilantly guarding the pond in their backyard. In a future where water is scarce and worth killing for, the pond is their lifeline and only means of getting from season to season. But smoke is rising on the horizon, and strangers are settling at a nearby creek. After tragedy strikes, Lynn must decide how just how far she will go to protect her water.

I absolutely adored this debut. It is everything I look for in a survival story, and it reminded me of some of my favorite books as a child–Gary Paulsen, Jean Craighead George, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anything can happen in this world. It is gritty and honest and raw. Its characters are nuanced and easy to root for. I could not put this one down and can’t recommend it enough. Looking forward to whatever Mindy writes next!

 

WINGER by Andrew Smith
I’d heard so many good things about Winger, that I ran out and picked up a copy. Ryan Dean West (who plays wing on his Rubgy team, hence the nickname ‘Winger’), is a fourteen-year-old junior attending a prestigious (read: for rich kids) prep school. He feels out of place constantly, as he’s two years younger than all his classmates. He’s crushing on his best friend Annie, who also sees him as the cute, little boy. And he’s stuck rooming with the ruby team’s biggest bully. Should be a fun year.

Winger’s voice is incredible–blunt and humorous; sometimes repetitive, but very authentic. He had me laughing out loud one moment and lamenting the next. He’s easy to root for, but besides his goal of winning over Annie, the book doesn’t have a very obvious plot. Still, it’s an enjoyable read. I found myself slowly falling in love with the full cast of characters, and there’s an tragic twist at the end that broke my heart. I felt it was a tad rushed and deserved more focus and resolution, but don’t want to say much else for fear of spoilers. If you’re a fan of boarding school settings, and looking for an honest, unique voice, pick this one up!

 

Lastly, RESEARCH BOOKS!
WesternYA research booksI’m in the process of reading a ton of non-fiction for my New Shiny–a western YA. I’ve wanted to write a western for ages, and the right story idea finally fell into my lap about two months ago. After some time brainstorming and plotting, I ordered a huge stack of books on Arizona and frontier life.

This month I cruised through Arizona, A History, which was a comprehensive overview of–you guessed it–Arizona history. I found sections on the Apache wars, gold mining, and homsteading developments especially useful for my needs. There were also tons of insights to the cultural mixing pot of early Arizona, plus how all this effected women. I also devoured a historical atlas of Arizona (fascinating stuff), and a book on Apache Junction. Next up, Cowboy Culture and Tales of the Superstitions! And all while I continue to type away in the meantime. I’ve got 15k down and am feeling incredibly inspired and enthusiastic. Praying this honeymoon phase continues.

What about you? Tell me what you read and loved in January, pretty please!

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