books books books

Christmas vacation is definitely over– I haven’t had nearly as much time to read!  And now that I have only a few weeks to prepare my manuscript before I attend the Big Sur Writing Workshop, all my free time is dedicated to working on my novel (along with blogging and time with friends).  I have lots of new books on my shelf that are calling out to me, but I have to ignore them till after the workshop is over.

Just finished:

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore | This is the sequel to Graceling, and while I enjoyed it, I did think it was weaker than Graceling and Fire, the prequel to Graceling.  Set 8 years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now 18 and a queen, dealing with a country that is still really broken.  I liked the characters in this: Katsa, Po, and Giddon make reappearances, and readers meet a cast of other fun new people as well.  I don’t want to spill too much so that I don’t spoil the first two books.  Cashore again leaves readers with an unexpected ending, which is refreshing in some ways and disappointing in others.  Still definitely worth the read, although Fire remains my favorite of the three books.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | I have reviewed this book before, but let me just say that the second time through it was just as breathtaking as the first.  Morgenstern is a sensory genius.  I grovel at her feet.  And she is so humble and likable too.  I cannot wait for the Night Circus movie to come out and for Morgenstern to write another book!

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | Another re-read for me, but this time around, I think I liked this book even better!  (Which is saying a lot, since I loved it the first read through!)  I think because I am working on a young adult novel about a girl with her own family issues, Saving Francesca rang a bell in me that just didn’t exist the first time I read it.  This is the story of Francesca, a young Australian-Italian girl who is learning to navigate a new co-ed school (new to her and also new to being co-ed … and the boys are not excited that there are girls there now) all while her normally active and energetic, lifeblood-of-the-family mother has sunk into a deep depression.  This book is marvelous.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I still think Jellicoe Road is my favorite of Marchetta’s books, but Saving Francesca is right up there, competing with it!  (This book is one of the reasons I started thinking about going to grad school.  I want to be as good a writer as Marchetta.  Ironically, she doesn’t even have a bachelor’s degree in writing, let alone an MFA!  BRILLIANT, I TELL YOU!)

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta | This is the sequel to Saving Francesca, and it is so good to be with those characters again.  This story follows Tom, one of Francesca’s friends, years after high school, after he has made a mess of his life.  It isn’t as friendly as SF.  Tom is a jerk through a lot of it, but you still find yourself loving him and rooting for him and his family.  Marchetta is a genius.  If I could go study under her, I think I’d do it in an instant.

Up next (after Big Sur) …

Son by Lois Lowry | The fourth book in the Giver series!
Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney | The final book in The Face on the Milk Carton series, which I first started reading back in 1990.  (In other words, this book is a long time comin’!)
Unwholly by Neal Shusterman | The sequel to Unwind, which I read last October and loved.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | Desiree’s fiance bought me this for my birthday!  So excited.
Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott | Her new book on prayer (thank you, Des, for buying me a bunch of these books as birthday presents!)
A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver | Her latest poems
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness | I read Ness’s A Monster Calls recently and loved it.  So excited for this book.
Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli | His new book about a land without adults and how growing up someone still creeps in!!!
Vex Hex Smash Smooch by Constance Hale | The book on verbs my daddy bought me for Christmas
Across the Universe by Beth Revis | From what I gather, this is a story of survival in space after being cryogenically frozen.  Eeep!
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker | A novel about one girl’s life when the earth’s rotation begins to slow.

Ordered …

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Under the Wolf, Under the Dog by Adam Rapp
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Pre-ordered (because I am just so excited about them) …

The Holders by Julianna Scott | Includes a boarding house for kids with special powers.  Makes me think of Hogwarts and of Ender’s Game.  Can’t wait.  Love boarding school books– get rid of those adults!!!
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay | Advanced reader copies are getting rave reviews, and I’m so jealous and want to read it now instead of waiting until this summer!  The story is about a girl who refuses to speak and a boy who has everyone he’s close to die, and about their friendship.  

So … yeah.  A lot on my radar, as well as a potential grad school application and application materials.  But I’ve got tunnel vision until after Big Sur!  I love my literary life.  Sigh.

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