Win one of the following books we read and loved in 2012...
UPDATE: Our winner is Karina from Nocturnal Book Reviews! She told us to surprise her with a copy of Tigana, Deathless, or A Face Like Glass, so we've done just that. Get ready for a mystery book, Karina. Congratulations!
Happy almost 2013! To celebrate the past year, we've joined a giveaway hop organized by one of our favorite blogs, Cuddlebuggery! Trying to decide what to give away was quite a feat for us, considering that we each read between 105-120 books. Instead of writing a long post about all our favorites, we each picked four of the books we loved most and one winner will be free to pick any one of them. If you feel like finding out more about our favorite things from 2012, you should go read the post we did for The Book Smugglers, for their Smugglivus feature. Our giveaway will be open internationally, to anywhere The Book Depository or Fishpond ships (two Aussie books would have to come from the latter). Consider each of these books an absolute recommendation from at least one of us. We hope each and every one of you has had a wonderful year and that your 2013 will have great things in store for you.
Win one of the following books we read and loved in 2012...
Enter the giveaways at all the other stops on the hop:
We are supposed to be preparing for Christmas, but erotic YA is all everyone has been talking about this week. Simon & Schuster UK is exploring (exploiting?) a new erotically-charged genre of fiction for teenagers that has been described as “Judy Blume for the Fifty Shades of Grey generation”. On the one hand, the publishers claim that their goal is to produce “escapist romances, featuring young women, the same age as the readers, exploring their first sexual desires and their first sexual experiences,” on the other, people behind this idea say this - “Young Adult publishers have been looking with envy at Fifty Shades knowing we couldn’t do anything like that. Everybody was trying to work out what would be the next big thing,” so, basically, everything is about $$$$$.
In the same way, our response to this development is two-fold - we would love to see more YA which portrays sex honestly and positively, but at the same time, if it's all about giving something sexy to the women who read YA and also enjoy some fictional BDSM, isn't it better encourage these readers to seek out adult lady porn rather than eroticise fiction that is supposed to be aimed at teen readers and portray their experiences? What are the chances that such novels would even have teen readers and their needs in mind? And when does reading about minors exploring their sexualities, in explicit, erotic ways, by adults become creepy and voyeuristic?
There are two very eloquent responses to this news which are very much worth reading:
Sex, YA Books, and Some "E" Words - by Kelly at Stacked.
And Sex in Mainstream YA - Teen Erotica & The Importance of Good Sex by Ceilidh over at The Book Lantern.
Another post that should not be missed is Laura's I Love... YA at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. We all can relate to her experiences with discovering and falling in love with teen fiction.
And here is a sweet ode to romance novels - Don't Hide Your Harlequins: In Defense Of Romance. Again, many of of us have been at some point or are fans of this genre of sadly ill repute.
Finally, the last but not least, an interview with our favorite Melina Marchetta on Jo's blog Wear the Old Coat - On Writing: Melina Marchetta on Heroines. Obviously, for us every tiny insight about Melina's writing process and every tidbit of information about her new and old characters is a pleasure to read about.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: 4/14/11
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Blurb(GR): Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.
When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.
But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.
Written with whip-smart precision and charm, Attachments is a strikingly clever and deeply romantic debut about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it's someone you've never met.
My favorite thing about this book is that Rainbow Rowell took so many of the “chick lit” hallmarks – a down on luck main character who’s living at home, a crappy job, a bad break-up, a love from afar, a makeover, a new apartment, a feisty old lady friend (with a basset hound!), a wedding, and a baby – and thought…yeah, I could cast a dude in that lead role. And it worked!
This is the one and only chick-lit novel I’ve ever read that featured a man as the lead character, and I have to say that Rowell really pulled it off. It probably doesn’t hurt that she has an impressive ability to craft nerd girl versions of the superhunks. In Eleanor & Park, she gave us a new wave listening, comic book reading, eyeliner wearing introvert who has a thing for the awkward ladies – so, pretty much my dream guy in high school. Here, she gives us Lincoln – an intellectual homebody who is a gentleman, hates bars and casual relationships, loves Dungeons and Dragons and computers but also somehow manages to be sort of cool – so, pretty much my dream guy right now. In fact, I may actually be married to a version of this guy. Clearly, Rainbow Rowell knows what makes a nerd girl’s heart go pitter-pat, is what I am saying.
However, when I look at my overall love for this novel, Lincoln and his goofy cuteness are really just the cherry on top of everything else. Through Lincoln, we are given the friendship between Beth and Jennifer, two writers at the newspaper office he’s tasked with monitoring for email violations. And their friendship is really what charmed me the most. Throughout the work day, they exchange emails filled with random comments, inside jokes, painful revelations, and tough love. They encapsulate everything wonderful and good about female best-friendship. Reading their very familiar conversations made me so thankful for every best friend that I’ve had in my lifetime.
Rowell again lost me during the mushy romance parts (which happen at the end in this novel). Although I was really rooting for the romance, it all happened a bit too quickly and neatly to be believable for me. But, I think that for most romance-lovers, this sweet book will be a home run.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Frank Sinatra – The Way You Look Tonight
This book is that mushy romantic tune that everyone and her sister has as the first dance at her wedding (it was the first dance at mine!). It’s replayed over and over again, but everybody just smiles and sheds a tear because it is so timeless, genuine, and classic. Maybe we’re all familiar with the themes and outcomes, but still…this book is a pleasure to read.
One of our favorite book blogs is The Book Smugglers. Ana and Thea read a ton of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult and it's rare that a book is reviewed on their blog that at least one of us isn't interested in. They have some amazing features like On the Smugglers' Radar, where they share exciting upcoming books, and Inspirations & Influences, in which authors share what makes their writing what it is. For the holiday season, they have a mega-feature called Smugglivus. (which is a play on the best holiday of all, Festivus (for the rest of us!) from Seinfeld.) During Smugglivus, which lasts for several weeks in December and early January, they post up some combination of two guest author or blogger posts.
We are very happy to be included this year, so hop on over there and see what some of our favorite things were of 2012--they're all over the place!
I know this isn’t really book-related, but I think after the heartbreaking news of yesterday, we could all use this list: 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year. Make sure to give your kids a couple of extra hugs today.
There were quite a few book-related and very thought-provoking posts this week, so I’m just going to jump right in:
Over at The Hub, YA Librarian Annie Schutte has a very comprehensive post about the various forms of whitewashing that she has encountered on YA covers, titled “It Matters If You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers.” In it, she cites many examples of the misrepresentations of race, cover-tinting, and obscuring of features that sometimes occur when publishers attempt to market books featuring people of color (perhaps under the assumption that Caucasian readers will not be interested if they don't see themselves on everything?). Diana Peterfreund, author of one of the books cited in Schutte’s post, responds to the accusations that her cover has been whitewashed:
“When you pick up the For Darkness book, you know what kind of story you are getting. And though her skin tone is lighter than described, she is not depicted as being a different race than she is in the book. That I would have a real problem with….”
And she goes on to say:
“And sometimes, readers just want something to bitch about. I have a friend who hand-picked the Asian-American model on her cover, only to get an email from a (white) reader that the model “wasn’t Asian enough.”
I guess I should fess up here that I was probably one of the main readers bitching about the cover of For Darkness Shows the Stars. And while I’m glad that the author loves how the cover turned out, I still don’t feel like it at all represents the pages inside. When I look at the cover, it makes me think of a space opera featuring soul-searching angst and willowy girlie-girls. I'm not the only one who saw that cover and assumed that her story was "Persuasion in Space", either. Peterfreund even chose to address that assumption on the book’s FAQ page, due to so many readers misinterpreting the stars on the cover. And yes, I do think that the model pictured looks entirely Caucasian; whereas, Peterfreund’s description of her made me think she was Asian or Hispanic. So I guess I have to stand by my bitchery.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Foz Meadows talks about the importance of sex positivity in YA novels, for girls in particular – to which I basically want to give a standing ovation.
The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article last week about pen names and why they’re often used by female authors to disguise gender. According to research cited by the article, “four out of five men said the last novel they had read was written by a man. Women were almost as likely to have read a book by a man as a woman….” This study and others have apparently encouraged publishers and writers to use male pen names – under the assumption that male readers will turn their noses up at any book penned by a female author. So, apparently we’re just going to force female authors to cater to a subset of the reading population? And probably perpetuate the root of this problem in the bargain (ie, the prejudice that some men have against female authors)? Yay.
Over at Stacked, Kelly has some interesting discussion points about the nomination process for the Morris Award, in which only debut novelists are eligible. Should self-published works be considered or not?
And in somewhat related news, Hugh Howey’s Wool series became the latest self-published work to be acquired by a major publishing house (Simon & Schuster).
Lastly, this bit of news is very exciting for my younger self: Caroline Cooney will be publishing the final installment (I didn’t even know there were sequels!!) of the Janie Johnson series next year. Many of you will probably remember The Face on The Milk Carton as required reading in the seventh grade – or if not, then surely you recall the fantastically horrible movie starring Kelly Martin?
That’s all for this week! Stop by and let me know what I missed!
Today, we are very happy to welcome our friend Trinity, who is 1. Wonderful; 2. Australian; 3. Blogs at Trin in the Wind, and 4. Is an aspiring author. I (Flannery) first met Trinity through mutual friends on Goodreads but we at The Readventurer have become fans of her reviews, which are both well thought out and well written. She has wonderful taste and I knew she'd be able to give a few unique recommendations for our If You Like This, You Might Like That feature, where people give book recommendations based on random likes and dislikes.
Thanks so much to Flannery for asking me to do a guest post (though it took me approximately a million years so I doubt I'll be asked back). (Note from Flannery: If you think being tardy for a guest post is grounds for me to not harass you, you are sorely mistaken) I tried to pick some lesser known books to harp on about and I hope you find something that you like...
Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda
This book was a result of me being flustered in Borders (pre goodreads days). Will this be any good? They made it into a movie, a French movie, with Audrey Tautou. It's a French book, I wish I were French, maybe if I read this book I'll be a bit more French…and so went my thoughts. Turns out I did like the book, quite a lot. (I like the film more though–Guillaume Canet mmm) I recommend if you like French stuff, quirky characters, lovely prose (though a bit dense at times) and a highly satisfying ending.
Shadows by Paula Weston
I feel like I can't shut up about this book at the moment. One of the best books I've read this year. I put this off for ages because, you guys, I'm not a fan of Angel-type books. I like to hang out on the contemporary side of the street. BUT YOU GUYS. This book, this book. Recommend if you don't really like angel books but do like swoon, action, brilliant brilliant prose and a glowing feeling in your chest. This book stands up with some of the best Aussie Contemp YA.
Shift by Em Bailey
This book was a surprising read for me this year, for some reason I thought it'd be crap (I think it's cos I saw it everywhere and it made me suspicious…over marketed books, they can't be good right?) But I did like it, so there you go. Shift is a YA psychological thriller but not overly scary just incredibly creepy. It's so enjoyable. It won the 2012 Gold Inky and I can totally see why. Recommend if you liked to be creeped out, like making up your own words and tend to spend too much time obsessing over the strange new girl at school.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
I read this book as part of research for my own work and found it utterly sad and beautiful. It's a journal of sorts by C.S. Lewis after the passing of his wife. He is completely open and raw with his words and the way he articulates his grief just makes you stop and say that's it, that's completely it. He hides from the world, prays and shouts at God. At only 60 pages it is a very powerful read. Recommend if you want some insight into grief, if you're a fan of the man, if you like stunning prose and if you need a quick, poignant read.
Red Queen by Honey Brown
This is the first book I've read by Honey Brown and it certainly won't be the last. It is another psychological thriller, but where Shift was ultimately safe, this book is opened up wide. There are things here that ring with so much devastating truth. It is quite a bleak read. I'd like to marry her prose though. The story is quiet but charged with an unsettling edge. Recommend if you want to devour a book, if you enjoy being challenged and getting out of your comfort zone, if you want to read some exquisite prose.
Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 1/8/2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Blurb: A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story--Just One Year—is coming soon!
Just One Day is a story of self-discovery sandwiched between the romance-heavy beginning and end, two stories in one if you will. High school graduate Allyson meets an amateur Dutch actor Willem during her post-HS culture tour of Europe and with a spontaneity unnatural to her throws away all her caution and embarks on a day trip to Paris with him. They spend a day (and night) together, and then it's over, abruptly. Allyson goes back home then, starts college and succumbs to ennui. Her already depressed state is made even more severe by hardships in college, intense helicopter parenting and lack of friends. But her experiences during that one day in Paris eventually encourage her to change her life in a major way and go back to Paris...
Melancholy. Sad. Depressing. These are the words that were constantly on my mind while reading Just One Day. I am not sure a tone like this can work for me for an entire romance story. I obviously like some drama, if I enjoyed Forman's very tragic previous novels (If I Stay and Where She Went), but even those books were based on a love story that started out as charming, happy, romantic, swoony. In Just One Day, on the other hand, it's all doom and gloom and sadness, from the beginning till the very end. I am sure I would have liked Just One Day more if the romance were more uplifting, interesting. I found it hard to care for Allyson and Willem. Allyson is a dull, passive narrator. Willem lacks charisma, charm, sexiness, humor even. Their one day in Paris is not romantic or fun in any way. I attribute my negative impression of this day trip to the flashbacks of Taken running through my mind and my concern for Allyson's safety, and to the general grimness of the whole European adventure. (While I do not doubt the accuracy of Forman's depiction of Europe, this depiction is just depressing, to exactly match the novel's overall dark mood. How can one be so miserable in a midst of so much diversity, culture, excitement and freedom? I don't get it.) If I had the experiences in Paris Allyson had in this novel, I would have considered such extended date a complete failure and a waste of time, and nobody would have gotten laid by the end of it. But this one day has a great effect on Allyson, and this part of the novel I never quite accepted or understood.
Because I mostly felt indifferent towards the romance frame of this self-discovery story, the middle portion of the book felt more compelling to me. It is especially compelling if you are looking for books with those notorious "new adult" experiences - exploration of life after high school, learning how to be independent from your parents, choosing an educational path that suits you and not people around you, finding new friends, getting your first job. I liked most of this middle, except maybe the part where Allyson handles her schooling - I don't believe that taking pottery classes instead of pre-med classes while your parents are paying $40K a year for your school is a responsible and mature thing to do, even if it makes you happy. (My philosophy is - don't trifle with other people's money, you can get your pottery classes for $80 at your local community college.) But Allyson's struggles with her parents and her diving into new friendships were the highlights for me.
It is hard to give this book a fair assessment, because so much of my dissatisfaction with this novel rests on my personal taste in YA romance. On a technical level, Just One Day is well written. For me as an opinionated reader, however, this story felt lackluster, with its unjustified main character's ennui, realistic, but grim portrayal of various European countries and unconvincing romance. I would pick Anna and the French Kiss over this novel any day. It's just much, much more fun. There HAS to be some fun in any romance, am I right?
About a month ago, Flannery pointed out to Tatiana and I that we live a scant four hours apart and that if she were in our shoes, she would have just made the freaking drive already. She had a point. A really, really good point. Tatiana and I have been chatting on goodreads for probably over a year and a half and we email nearly every day about blog business and whatever else is going on in our lives. It did seem a little odd that it had apparently never occurred to either one of us (well, to me at least) to just get in the car and make the trip. After doing a little google-mapping and realizing how short the drive really was, I gladly offered to drive down and Tatiana agreed to let me enter her home and spend time around her family. (Yay! She doesn’t think I’m a crazy person even after all of those emails! Woo!)
After setting up the date, I emailed Flannery in secret. You see, Tatiana and her family are going to have a little change in January (which I’ll let her tell you all about below) and I wanted to give her a surprise party. Flannery immediately had the idea to ask Tatiana’s online friends if they wanted to participate. I thought that was a wonderful idea, but I wasn’t sure if Tatiana would like us to tell other people about her news. Luckily for The Readventurer team, Flannery is one of the wiliest people I’ve ever known. Within days she had somehow, someway, gotten Tatiana to say via email that she didn’t mind if people knew – all while maintaining the complete secrecy of our plans. I still have no idea how she did that.
So we sent out the call to Tatiana’s closest friends – and we got a ton of responses. You guys were amazing. We got cards and gifts and mostly books galore (what do you expect when a bunch of book nerds throw a baby shower?) from all over the country and beyond. On the day of our meeting, I loaded up the car with all of your thoughtful gifts and made the very easy drive down to Tatiana’s house.
And we had a great time! I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that baked brie, an Indian buffet, Tatiana’s hilarious family (including her dog who I would have probably spent all day petting if I weren’t trying to be a good guest), and pasty/glittery vampires with tiny noses were all involved. Thanks so much to all of you for being so amazing and making this happen!
In case you were wondering how Catie's and my meeting went, let me tell you, it was fabulous. Catie drove all the way from Virginia to visit me for a chat-and-lunch date, to patiently endure watching Breaking Dawn 2 with me (which had about 10 minutes of fun in it) and to allow my dog to slobber and shed hair all over her. (what I thought was going to happen) She also, imagine this, brought a baby shower with her! (Yes, there is a reason why I haven't been reading and blogging properly most of this year, or this is my excuse and I am sticking to it.)
This is how great my co-bloggers are - both Flannery and Catie got together with our multiple blogging and reading friends (you, ladies) and organized this event, and in absolute secrecy. I won't lie, this was a complete surprise and an icing on the "meeting-Catie" cake. I was already ecstatic to just meet her in person, after months, if not years, of virtual chatting, but everything turned out to be even better. The girls know that I am a pretty private person and, as a proper introvert, am not keen on being a center of attention, so they put this shower together quietly and by proxy. And I enjoyed it immensely!
If you were ever curious about how a baby shower would look like if thrown by your book friends, besides baby clothes and toys, expect a library for your baby be put together by them. My little boy is definitely all set for the future full of reading.
I can't quite express how thankful we, my husband and I, are to all of you who made this surprise happen. We were surprised and touched by your thoughtful attention. And of course, our special thanks go to Catie and Flannery who are even more awesome than I thought them to be (I didn't know if that was even possible.) I hope to meet Flannery one day yet, but Catie is even softer and nicer in person than she is in her writing.
Just as this post is getting published, the first Readventurer face-to-face meeting is in progress (hopefully). Yes, Catie is generously braving the looong ride from VA to NC to visit moi (Tatiana). There is hardly anything more exciting in the blogging world than meeting someone you've been talking with virtually for years, so yes, I am pretty ecstatic.
In other scant news this week, Huffington Post poses an alarming question - Could Selling A Used Book Become Illegal? Granted, the case they present is a tad squeaky - a student seems to have made quite a bit of money selling used foreign editions of textbooks to US students, but still 1) why is it not enough for publishers to get paid once per book? and 2) what about sites like Fishpond, which many of us have been using to buy Aussie books? Are those illegal too?
This is not only a holiday season, but a book awards season as well. Morris announced its finalists the other day. (This award honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.) Unlike with the National Book Awards finalists this year, we actually have read and liked some of these books (3 out of 5!).
Melina Marchetta gave us hope of the next book, and it looks like it is going to be about Jimmy Hailler!
"24 year old Jimmy Hailler is camping out in my head. It’s not just his story, but a bit of a four hander and it will definitely be an adult one rather than YA. It’s interesting that I didn’t know where Jimmy and his life was until I played with circumstances in Froi and Quintana’s life."
If you are a fan of Kristin Cashore, you might appreciate this look into her writing process of Bitterblue.
Did you ever suspect that ALL popular YA is essentially fanfiction? Book Riot has developed a (conspiracy) theory.
And now, the rest of the news that can be grouped due to their relative smuttiness:
The Bad Sex Award Winner 2012 was announced. (Feel free to enjoy multiple gems at the end of the article, in a slide show).
E. L. James was named PW's Publishing Person of the Year. Haha. It's unclear if anyone benefited from something as unsavory as refurbished fanfiction quite as handsomely as James. But we are more interested in having a bit of fun instead of celebrating James' "achievements:
On the other hand, the success of Fifty Shades will put 5K in the pockets of EACH Random House employee this holiday season. Not bad at all.
She Made Me Do It: In Which We Do It with Maja from The Nocturnal Library, Plus a Wrap-Up from Last Month
Last month, we were very happy to swap recommendations with two of our favorite bloggers (and definitely some of the most hilarious), Maggie and Noelle from Young Adult Anonymous. All the recommendations were successful (more or less) and some people kicked ass at the challenge by reading more than one of the recommendations. After recapping the results of the last edition of She Made Me Do It, we will embark on another installment, this time with the lovely Maja of The Nocturnal Library.
Previously, on She Made Me Do It...
And now, some new challenges...
On this edition of She Made Me Do It, Catie and I (Flannery) will be swapping recommendations with Maja from The Nocturnal Library. To me, Maja is like some sort of urban fantasy goddess. She seems to know everything there is to know about that genre. But, like us, she reads all over the board, so hopefully we've found something she'll be interested in reading this month. And vice versa, naturally.
Flannery's Recommendations for Maja
Alanna: Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
What it's about: Twins switching places. Alanna, a young girl in the world of Tortall, goes to learn the skills for knighthood while her twin, Thom, goes to a convent to learn magic.
Why I think she'll like it: I know Maja is on the prowl for some good fantasy after recently enjoying Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and a few other fantasy books. She has yet to try out Tamora Pierce, who I definitely consider one of the repeat hit-makers in the YA fantasy realm. I've loved most everything I've read by her and Alanna is one of her highest rated and the most popular. Though there are several series I believe Maja could try to see if she enjoys Pierce's writing, I think this is a good litmus test.
Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
What it's about: I think Tatiana would describe this book as being about wangst, that is if Tatiana ever used words like wangst. Otherwise, it is about Holly, a twenty-something gal who is unsure about several facets of her life at once.
Why I think she'll like it: Honestly, I really want Maja to love this book. Though contemporary is definitely not Maja's favorite genre, I definitely know that she loves a well-written Aussie contemporary book (e.g. Raw Blue, A Straight Line to My Heart) and the fact that she has this one sitting unread on her shelf makes me simultaneously excited at the awesomeness she might experience and nervous that she won't love it as much as Catie and I did. However, Maja is a kindred spirit and I think this book is a good recommendation for someone like her who thinks about life and existence and also for someone who likes funny dialogue. Half of my Goodreads friends didn't like this at all and the other half loved it. I'd like to see where Maja falls on the spectrum.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
What it's about: A young woman recalls her childhood spent at an isolated boarding school. Through her discussions about friendship, love, and realities, we find out that Kathy's life isn't quite ordinary.
Why I think she'll like it: Maja likes darker, well-written books. She also likes evocative writing and she isn't afraid of the creep factor. This book is intriguing and contemplative, but it also has a science fiction element to it that adds an extra layer of mystery to the whole situation. (but not so much sci-fi that it would alienate her). Though I listened to this one, I hope Maja reads it in book form. I know it is also one of Catie's favorites and Maja often agrees with both of us, so I'm doubly hopeful she'll like this one.
Maja's verdict: I’ve been meaning to read one of Tamora Pierce’s books for the longest time, and now I finally have the excuse to do it. I love that this one is about twins. I really want to read Holier Than Thou too, and I own Never Let Me Go both on audio and in e-format, so it’s good to know which one to choose. In short, I want to read all of these. *sigh* These ladies know me too well.
Maja's Recommendations for Flannery
Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass
What it’s about: Two girls that have never met and have nothing in common have been dreaming about each other for as long as they can remember. Each time one of them goes to sleep, she becomes the other one and sees the world through her eyes, all the while conscious of her own identity. But when they try to look for each other in the real world, it’s as if neither of them exists.
Why I think she’ll like it: Lucid has such an interesting premise! A lot of people compared this book to Inception, but I don’t like thinking of it like that. The first part is just a contemporary story about two girls and their everyday problems, but underneath it is the question of their existence. Are they both real? Or if not, which one is a product or the other’s imagination? I had no idea, and I think Flannery would really enjoy that.
Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
What it's about: Verity Price comes from a long line of cryptozoologists, people dedicated to keeping the peace between humans and monsters. Verity has just moved to Manhattan, away from her numerous family, to pursue a career in ballroom dancing. One night, she (literally) runs into an enemy agent and they end up joining forces to solve a string of supernatural murders.
Why I think she’ll like it: Did I mention the talking mice? No? Well, there you go. Discount Armageddon is non-stop action and adventure, very funny, and the world is extremely colorful. Although she doesn’t read urban fantasy often, I have a feeling Flannery would really enjoy it.
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
What it’s about: Carmen is a Grammy Award winning violinist and she has just been admitted to Julliard with a full scholarship. She and Jeremy King are the most likely finalists in the Guarneri contest. They are both just one step away from that huge, life-altering victory. Falling in love under the circumstances really shouldn’t be an option... but it is.
Why I think she’ll like it: Well, for one, she really liked Gayle Forman’s books! Virtuosity is perfect for fans of If I Stay and Where She Went. This is one of those books I really enjoyed despite my reluctance to read contemporary, and I think… in fact, I’m pretty sure Flann would, too. What’s more, Martinez managed to surprise me twice, and that doesn’t happen often.
Flannery's verdict: I think I've checked Virtuosity out from the library twice now and I've seen the author at a book event and she definitely impressed me. However, I just haven't crossed the finish line on that one so I'm happy Maja added it as a recommendation. When we were working on this post together last night, Maja talked a bit about Lucid to me and basically convinced me that I must read it, so that is the direction I'm leaning, though I am actually excited to read all three of these books. As for Discount Armageddon, I am not sure what to think about that cover. It makes me feel like the book is campy and I'd much prefer to read it with a different cover because I'm not sure I could get the mental image of a woman wearing that outfit out of my head as the main character. But I did really enjoy Feed, which is by the same author (different pen name), I do enjoy urban fantasy every once in a while, and triple whammy, Maja knows me so well. If she thinks I'll like it, she's probably right.
Catie's Recommendations for Maja
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
What it's about: Hathin is a young girl who belongs to a small native tribe of Gullstruck Island. She is quiet and lives in the shadows, caring for her "supernaturally gifted" sister Arilou and keeping up a vast conspiracy that protects her tribe from the intruders who are slowly taking over the island piece by piece. When Hathin loses nearly everything, she's forced to flee and fight and come into her own - and possibly discover that Arilou is more than she appears to be.
Why I think she'll like it: As soon as Flannery told me that Maja was looking for some more great fantasy, I knew I'd be recommending this to her. I know that Maja loves beautiful/descriptive writing, deeper themes about war, and strong female heroines. Plus, I'll recommend Frances Hardinge to just about anyone if given half a chance.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
What it's about: I don't think I'm spoiling this for anyone when I say that this book contains a cross-dressing girl (it's in the blurb on goodreads!). Eon, a young dragoneye candidate, is secretly Eona. Since girls are not allowed to commune with the elemental dragons and practice dragon magic, Eona hides her identity and trains as a boy. However, after the ceremony in which the new dragoneye masters are selected, Eona's whole life begins to change.
Why I think she'll like it: I honestly can't believe that she hasn't read this yet! I have to admit that after reading the second book in this series, I didn't end up loving it as much as some of my friends. But I have this feeling that if/when Maja reads this, she will be a fan. Call it what you will (creepy friend intuition), my book reviewer mojo is telling me that this is a Maja book.
Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey
What it's about: Two timelines weave together as expendable youngest son Hahp enters a frightening and brutal school of magic and naive Sadima follows a magician and his controlling friend to the city.
Why I think she'll like it: This book is impossible to put down, and it's sequel even more so. I think Maja will get just as caught up as I did in the slowly unfolding mystery and the very twisted magical training.
(P.S. I feel like Tatiana is actually here in spirit because I know she'd heartily endorse my last two recommendations.)
Maja's verdict: It’s true that I’ve been looking for more good fantasy. After reading Seraphina and all three of Kristin Cashore’s books in less than a month, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been neglecting the genre altogether. I knew Catie was the right person to turn to for recommendations. These are all safe bets so I’ll be reading them all. If I don’t make it this month, I will as soon as I can. I think I’ll read Skin Hunger first, though.
Maja's Recommendations for Catie
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
What it's about: A smart fifteen-year old girl becomes the apprentice of one Mr. Sherlock Holmes and in her, the now retired detective recognizes an equal.
Why I think she'll like it: Is that a trick question? Everyone likes Sherlock! And although I don’t normally read books about Sherlock that weren’t written by Arthur Conan Doyle, I think Laurie R. King is doing an amazing job both with him and with Mary Russell. (And Mycroft, I just adore Mycroft.) I know Catie’s been meaning to read this so I thought I’d give her the excuse to push aside an arc or two and read it sooner than she planned.
The Stranger by Albert Camus
What it's about: It’s about a man whose mother just died and he has no idea how to cope. He is completely detached and ends up doing things that are completely unlike him.
Why I think she'll like it: Well, to be honest, I don’t know that she will, but I really want her to read it. (That’s not as horrible as it sounds.) When I first read it (admittedly, I was fourteen at the time), I absolutely hated it. It made me miserable, which was kind of the point, but I fought against it for the longest time. However, truly powerful books shape you even when you don’t want them to, and this is certainly one of the books that influenced me the most. With our Euro-centric educational system, it’s almost unimaginable to reach adulthood and not read it at least twice. (Which is why I have holes the size of Arkansas when it comes to African, South American or Asian lit.)
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
What it's about: It’s about two very different boys, one a missionary in Africa and the other an awkward high school senior with a missing brother. It’s also about a (nearly) extinct woodpecker.
Why I think she'll like it: I just finished this one myself and I’m finding it very hard to let go. It’s one of those modest, unassuming books that take you completely by surprise. Besides, there’s been a lot of talk lately about male voices in YA and I know that, unlike me, Catie’s been reading those articles and posts. This book has some really interesting, realistic young male characters and I think she’ll appreciate that.
Catie's verdict: Maja is one of the most intelligent people I know and I knew that I could count on her to give me some surprising recommendations. I've actually had The Stranger sitting on my bookshelf for years but haven't had the courage to pick it up (and it's such a tiny, unassuming little volume). I read The Plague back in college and it definitely became one of the books that shaped me the most so I'm sure that, based on Maja's description, The Stranger will be the same. I'm already a Camus fan and I'm pretty sure that this book is also on my 110+ books list so I think I'll read it this month for sure.
I added Laurie R. King's book to my TBR over a year ago (I think) and promptly forgot all about it. However, I LOVE Sherlock Holmes and I love precocious little girls even more so I'm so happy to be reminded about it. (Also, I love that Maja thinks I'm all dedicated to my ARCs and would need an excuse to set them aside. If only she knew how much I've been slacking lately...). And the John Corey Whaley book has been on my radar for a while but most recently because Maja's been reading it! We don't always agree on everything, but I think our tastes in YA contemporary are very similar so when she likes a YA contemporary, I pretty much immediately add it to my TBR.
Overall, these are wonderful recommendations! Thanks Maja!
What do you think of this round's picks? Do you have any recommendations to any of the participants? Think any of us are delusional?