Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books I Love

The Coming Out Soon or Actually Out Now Edition:

Shannon Hale's PRINCESS ACADEMY: PALACE OF STONE. I was trying to explain to my mom just what I love so much about all of Shannon's books. And besides the fact that her writing has this timeless grace to it that I marvel over, what I love the most is that she writes girls in such an honestly empowering way. It isn't taking over traditionally male roles as being strong, or denying femininity as being strong, which so often is our shorthand for Really Strong Female Character*. It is discovering who they are and figuring out how to use themselves--their hopes, their fears, their passions, their strengths, AND THEIR MARVELOUS BRAINS--to make the world around them a better place.

You don't have to have read PRINCESS ACADEMY, but of course you ought to. I read it a few years ago and dropped many of the details, as I am wont to do, and it didn't impact my reading of PALACE OF STONE or leave me confused.

*I am not bashing these tropes. I enjoy many of these stories. I just really, really appreciate what Shannon writes.

Speaking of Really Awesome Strong Girls, CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. This book is gutting in the best way possible. It's funny and heart-wrenching and so breathtakingly smartly written. The two main characters are ones that stick in that space between your lungs and your heart. Marvelous, marvelous book. WWII spy drama! True love between friends! Women pilots! YOU WANT THIS BOOK.

Speaking of books you want, THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater. When I read SCORPIO RACES last year I'll admit it caught me off guard. I'd enjoyed the Shiver series, but wasn't prepared for what a wonder SCORPIO RACES was. It was crafted in a way not many novels I've read lately are. Every detail, every character, the simple but brutal mythology that felt like it could very well be real. Violence and magic and history woven around struggles to put food on the table, plus horse racing where THE HORSES MIGHT ACTUALLY EAT YOU.

Wait, I was supposed to be talking about THE RAVEN BOYS. Well, suffice it to say, this is another book that disgusted me with its utter storytelling superiority. I'm really starting to hate Ms Stiefvater and my inevitable "Why couldn't I have written this book it is amazing and I love everything about it and why why why do you do this to me Maggie why WHERE IS THE NEXT BOOK?" reaction.

(Hi, Maggie. I like you very much. Please stop pummeling my brain with your magical books that make me weep with writerly envy.)

Speaking of magical books that pummel your brain, BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. It was everything I didn't know I wanted it to be. I love that this book was a fantasy novel that took place in one city, focused on one girl, trying to rebuild a kingdom torn apart by the worst imaginable abuse from its former king--her own father. Cashore writes such smart fantasy, and even though the plot of this book wasn't as "big" as her previous companion novels, GRACELING and FIRE, I think I loved it all the more for that. If you haven't discovered Cashore, her books are some of my very favorite YA fantasy novels.

And speaking of kingdoms torn apart, GRAVE MERCY by R.L. LaFevers. I know I mentioned it before I read it--assassin nuns! COME ON--but now that I've read it, it bears another mention. Such a fascinating mythology, and the period details were so fun. I can't wait for the companion novel. All I'm saying is, if the love interest isn't a certain knight presumed dead on the battlefield, I will have to call up Ms LaFevers and read her the riot act. Or at least demand some short stories written just for me.

So, those are the books off the top of my head. Some books I haven't read yet but can't wait to get my hands on are:
THE DIVINERS, by Libba Bray (roaring twenties! evil spirits! New York!)
DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT, by Laini Taylor (I. need. more. Karou.)
THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH, by Maureen Johnson (sequel to THE NAME OF THE STAR, which I thought would be out in September but isn't out until next year and I am a very sad panda about it)
UNSPOKEN, by Sarah Rees Brennan (girl sleuth! plus Sarah is super smart and says things I like on tumblr!)

And now your turn, my lovelies: what can't you wait to read? What have you read recently that you love so much you want everyone else in your life to read it, too?


Debbie Barr said...

I just finished reading Every Day by David Levithan, and it was truly brilliant. It's about a boy who wakes up in a different body every morning, living the life of a stranger every day. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and completely amazing.

I am eagerly awaiting the final book in Ally Condie's Matched trilogy, but I still have a few more months to wait on that one.

Sara B. Larson said...

I just finished SHADOW AND BONE today and it was amazing. Another YA fantasy that left me wishing I could write a book like that.

Cindy said...

I am anxiously waiting for The Dragons of Winter by James A. Owen and Princess of the Silver Wood by Jessica Day George. And I still need my copy of Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale^^;

Kathryn Rose said...

Karou. That's all I've ever wanted now that I've read Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Liliana said...

Well, as a HUGE mythology fan, I seriously cannot wait for The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan!

Stephanie said...

I read two really good fantasy novels this summer: Shadow and Bone and Throne of Glass... I would definitely recommend both!

James Ballinger said...

I loved Bitterblue! I just finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Love her books.

I also just finished In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato, which is sort of a modern dystopian/historical fiction fantasy novel which was awesome.

Cynthia Hand said...

Good to know that someone else feels the way I do about Ms. Brilliant Stiefvater. And let's not forget that she is also an amazing artist and musician and all around cool person. Not fair. :P I haven't read Raven Boys yet, but I am mentally preparing myself to cry envious tears.

Jade said...

I have been in a reading slump for several months, so I have nothing to recommend. I did read one really amazing book, but it's not out until next year and I don't want to broadcast that I've read it. But yeah. So amazing.

And everything you said about Ms. Stiefvater counts doubly for me. Never expected to like TSR, but it broke my heart into tiny little lumps of flesh. Cannot wait for the Raven Boys.

Dot Hutchison said...

Just finished Libba Bray's The Diviners a couple of days ago, and it was AMAZING. Highly recommend watching the trailer first, just so you can get the song in your head and make the book that much creepier as you're reading. Just uber-fantastic.

Vi Nguyen said...

You HAVE TO read ANYTHING by Jennifer Armentrout. The Covenant series is to die for & The Lux series is so HOT, you'll devour them all! Also, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry was my favorite YA book of the year so far.

Liz said...

I can't wait for The Raven Boys! The Scorpio Races is one of my favorite books ever! Also, Days of Blood and Starlight. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis. And Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. I could rave about her writing for hours. I put off reading Finnikin of the Rock because I love her contemporary so much I couldn't imagine her writing fantasy. I should have known she would pull it off brilliantly!

Last night I devoured The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. Loved it!

Oh and I also am excited to read Mind Games! :)

Sarah J. said...

I just read UNDER THE NEVER SKY. Virtual worlds, aether storms, and genetic mutations: it was awesome.

CODE NAME VERITY. Blew me away. It was so different from everything else I've been reading...ever. Tragic and wonderful all at the same time.

I'm on the waiting list for PALACE of STONE and BITTERBLUE at the library. Maybe I should just buy them. I think I will.

Taffy said...

Palace of Stone was awesomesauce. I just hope Shannon plans on a third one!
LOVED Unspoken. Kinda hate the author for the punch in the gut ending though. She'd better hurry with the next book!
THANKS for the recommendations! I've put them on the library wait list.

Suzie F. said...

I've heard so many good things about CODE NAME VERITY. Adding to the infinite TBR list.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

CINDER by Melissa Meyer - So imaginative!
A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce - Gorgeous writing. LOVED this retelling of Rumpelstiltskin
PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green - Of course it's brilliant. It's John Green
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness - Everything about this book is perfect; the characters, the prose, the illustrations

Anonymous said...

I cannot wait for Boundless and the last book by L.A weartherly. Especially that last one because I NEED a good dose of Alex Kylar!!
Happy reading everyone!

Kate said...

Wow!!! I really need to catch up on my reading apparently! Thanks for the recommendations! So excited to read Princess Academy: Palace of Stone!!! I LOVED Princess Academy! Can't wait! :) :) :)

Melissa said...

Well, I'm still waiting to read Endlessly, but it hasn't arrived from the Book Depository yet - they sent it about 4 weeks ago. I'm now plagued with thoughts that it has been caught up in a customs drug bust, having a knife cut into it's beautiful spine for evidence of drugs...

I have just finished The Scorpio Races for the 2nd time, and just made November cakes for book club last week, which leaves me thinking 'Ms Steifvater why are you so freaking good at ALL THE THINGS???', so I can't wait for The Raven Boys!
Also can't wait for Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini is another one of those authors that make me cry in despair of their talent/skill, and my lack of. As they say 'Practice makes perfect', got a lot of practicing ahead, but one day, one day....

I also have just purchased Skylark by Meaghan Spooner, I'm looking forward to that one.

Just too many to choose from at the moment!

LauraN said...

I'm looking forward to SCARLET (book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles, sequel to Cinder) by Marissa Meyer and Anna Shehan's sequel to A LONG, LONG SLEEP. I also just read a review of a picture book called GOLDYLOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS that looks like a lot of fun.

Irish Roxs said...

I'm very excited for Robin McKinley's sequel to Pegasus , but sadly Ebon won't be out until 2014.