Ooohhh... I've been reading good books lately! So many that I should probably make the quarterlies a monthly thing. Which I will. Starting next month. For those of who missed my last quarterly, you may find my ultra-recommended books from the first quarter of 2010 here. And now, on we go!
Graceling & Fire, by Kristin Cashore.
So I was late in coming to these, but I still get to say they're still awesome and worth reading. Graceling is about a land where everyone has a special talent, a "grace," and a girl whose grace is to kill. Fire (review here) is the semi-sequel/prequel, which is also excellent. I can't wait for Bitterblue. Can't. Wait.
The Physician, by Noah Gordon.
In the 11th century, Rob Cole leaves England upon the death of his parents and falls into the company of a peddler whose medical cures go from bad to worse. Nevertheless, Rob learns a great deal at his side, and, when he discovers his own, very real healing power, he makes it his goal to become a real doctor - a physician. A sweeping, imaginative portrait of 11th century Europe.
Time and Materials, by Robert Hass.
Poetry, lovely, lovely, poetry. I am not so much of a poet that I can easily classify Hass's style for any poetry connoisseurs out there. Instead, all I can say is that he writes beautifully.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.
I reviewed this book here. To quickly recap, this is a slow-moving book with beautifully simple language and narration. Fans of Little Women might enjoy this one.
Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles.
I don't read that many YA YA books. You know, the ones about high school, the grind, boyfriends, girlfriends, good old backstabbing over boys and grades and stuff. So when I pick one up, it's going to be good. Or I'm gone. Let me tell you - this one is good. No, GREAT! Elkeles's writing is superb, and the story she crafts is just suckable. You know - it just...sucks...you in. I am SO picking up the next one.
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver.
I reviewed this book here. A lovely coming of age story with a twist, and the effervescent taste of redemption.
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Suicide is most often greeted with one question above all others: Why. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Clay Jensen learns he will discover the answer from Hannah Baker herself, a classmate who recorded messages detailing her reasons for killing herself before committing the deed. This is an absolutely one-of-a-kind novel that takes the hardest question and attempts to form a response.
Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O'Brien.
Gaia Stone, a midwife apprenticed to her mother in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by climate change, thinks she knows what her life will hold. But she finds there are dangerous secrets hidden in her family when her parents are arrested without justification, and the Enclave authorities are asking her about a strange, puzzling code, one she knows nothing about. Birthmarked is another excellent first novel in a series, and another whose sequel I am anxiously awaiting.
Ilustrado, by Miguel Syjuco.
I reviewed this book here. The Philippines, presented in a mind-twisting work of fiction/fictional autobiography/cultural snapshot. It's a book of complexity, both in structure and in tone, and one with an entirely unexpected, thought-provoking ending.
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, by Julie Halpern.
Natalie Whipple recommended this book highly highly highly, and Julie Halpern herself has a lovely blog where she talks about lovely things, including (most recently) the treasures found in her basement. Any former high school geeks out there? (I'm talking to you, girls...) This one is for you.
The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga.
India, India. Goodreads says it's a "first-person confession of a murderer," but it's really so much more than that. A sweeping portrait of the inequalities rampant in one of the largest countries in the world, unique and exquisite.
Spider's Bite, by Jennifer Estep.
Everybody loves assassins, right? I know, I don't really get the seductive appeal of cold-blooded killers - except sexy paranormally-abled ones like Gin with morals, of course. This is a genre I've been in remission from for a while, but this one just might have gotten me back into it... Too bad there are only two of them so far, and those two are recent.
The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima.
I loved this book, absolutely loved it. It's certainly not a standalone novel, and I was okay with that...until I found out the second book isn't out until September! I seem to be having the worst luck with starting series before they're finished. Normally I wouldn't mind, but these first books are just so good.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger.
I reviewed this book here. Such a great middle grade novel, and so innovative! Origami Yoda! It just has to be.
Seven Tears into the Sea, by Terri Farley.
I have problems with this book (for one thing, it just doesn't end - the story is so unfinished). But there's something hypnotic about the writing, how it slips slowly into your eyes and down your throat. And the quietly paranormal part is excellent in its quietness.
Living Dead Girl, by Elizabeth Scott.
I reviewed this book here. Horrifying, brilliant. I think those are the only two words necessary. Or you could go read the review. Or just buy the book already.
Forest Born, by Shannon Hale.
I am so very in love with fairy tale retellings, and I have been in love with Shannon Hale ever since The Goose Girl came out. It was just so original. I mean, it's kind of easy to write bad fairy tale retellings. But this one was delicious, with just that touch of darkness... I loved that it kept the original flavor of the tale. Forest Born takes place some time after the events of The Goose Girl, although some characters make a chilling return...