I haven’t done a reading roundup in ages. Here are the five most recent books I loved:
FIRE by Kristin Cashore
In #yalitchat on Twitter last night, someone asked whether character or plot is most important. For me, it’s all about character. And Fire is amazing: strong, independent, brave, determined, lonely, frightened. As the last human monster in the kingdom, her unnatural beauty draws people and other monsters to her, putting her in constant danger. She continually sacrifices herself for others, and she’s always working to prove herself different from her cruel, hedonistic father. She’s admirable but still flawed: a work in progress. I love that. The romance here is subtle, slow, wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. I loved this ten times more than the companion novel, GRACELING. It’s definitely going in my top 5 of 2010. (I’m not a huge fan of the US covers, but how pretty is the French one?)
SEA by Heidi R. Kling
Today is SEA’s release day, but I was lucky to score an early copy. It’s about a girl named Sienna who, still struggling with the death of her mom, travels with her dad to post-tsunami Indonesia and falls in love with an orphan named Deni. SEA is a fantastic summer read that would, I think, totally appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott. I handed it right off to my little sister, who adored it. But it also transcends the "beach read" label. I always think of books like that as frothy and forgettable, whereas SEA is not. It’s a powerful, bittersweet portrayal of loss and the people who come into our lives and unexpectedly transform us. And it refuses to let us forget the devastation of the tsunami and the rebuilding that’s still going on in Aceh. (Note: I think this pairs really well with TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler, which was my fave debut summer romance last year.) (Note 2: How gorgeous are both of those covers?)
BLOOD PROMISE and SPIRIT BOUND by Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy is one of my favorite series. I love the protagonist. Rose is no cookie-cutter heroine; she’s strong and brave and loyal, but she’s also got a fierce temper and she’s hugely stubborn. I won’t touch on the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything in the first three books, but I will say that the plot of VA books are always full of surprising twists and turns that don’t shy away from darkness. Mead doesn’t pander to the readers. Characters die; Rose’s hopes are dashed; things don’t turn out the way she planned, over and over. The world-building here is fascinating (Moroi: good, living vampires who work with the elements; Strigoi: evil, undead vampires who kill indiscriminately; dhampirs: half-vampire half-human warriors who protect the Moroi). I super can’t wait for the last book in the series, out in December, because SPIRIT BOUND ended with some crazy court intrigue. Also: Team Adrian.
IFI STAY by Gayle Forman
I gulped this down in three hours on Sunday night. It’s been ages since I’ve read a book straight through in one sitting. But it’s sad and sweet and perfect. Did I mention sad? *sobs* Premise: Mia’s family is in a horrible car accident, she’s severely injured, and she realizes she’s in charge of her own fate: whether to live or die. It’s about family, really, the ones we’re born into and the ones we create. There aren’t minor characters: they all leap off the page, note-perfect. A brief scene with her stoic grandfather, for instance, slayed me. In flashbacks, we learn about Mia’s awesome hipster family and her romance with musician Adam. And that relationship is powerful without being perfect, too: they’re being pulled apart by his band’s success in Seattle and her desire to go to Julliard. I–really, I can’t say more. I’m sure this will be in my top 5 for 2010, too. Read it.
What are you reading now?