I read 21 book in May:
- Scriber by Ben Dobson ★★★★★ (indie, fantasy)
- Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker ★★★☆☆ (nonfiction, memoir, hiking)
- Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail by Bill Walker ★★★☆☆ (nonfiction, memoir, hiking)
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak ★★★★★ (fiction, historical, strong voice, YA, must_read)
- The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin ★★★★☆ (nonfiction, historical, US Revolution, US History, YA)
- The Bakkian Chronicles Book 1, The Prophecy by Jeffrey Poole (indie, DNF)
- Star-Crossed Series by Rachel Higginson ★★★☆☆ (indie, YA, paranormal fantasy romance)
- Reckless Magic
- Hopeless Magic
- Fearless Magic
- Endless Magic
- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey ★★★★☆ (fantasy, dragons)
- Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan (fantasy, MG, YA)
- Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss ★★☆☆☆ (fantasy, where_was_the_plot, so_disappointing) (I’ll tackle a full review of this one next week)
The Book Thief. Wow. All I can say about this book is WOW. I stayed up till 3 am finishing this book. It has been a long time since a book kept me up all night.
If you like books with a strong, distinct, unusual voice you must read this book. The voice is awkward and strange; either you love it or it doesn’t work for you. Death’s awkward perspective worked for me. I found Zusak’s language poetic, not lyrical-poetic like Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races but harsh, discordant poetic:
“Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”
“They’d been standing like that for thirty seconds of forever.”
“Two weeks to change the world, fourteen days to destroy it.”
“When I recollect her, I see a long list of colors, but it’s the three in which I saw her in the flesh that resonate the most. Sometimes I manage to float far above those three moments. I hang suspended, until a septic truth bleeds towards clarity. […] They fall on top of each other. The scribbled signature black, onto the blinding global white, onto the thick soupy red.”
Make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you read this one!
Best Non-fiction Book?
The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin is thoroughly engaging historical, narrative nonfiction. I’m a huge fan of Sheinkin’s non-fiction. When I was homeschooling, I bought all three of his MG historical nonfiction books (King George, What Was His Problem?, Two Miserable Presidents, and Which Way to the Wild West?). If you don’t have them, buy them for your kids or your school library. Lively and informative, they are wonderful.
Knowing I like narrative non-fiction, our elementary school librarian handed me The Notorious Benedict Arnold as soon as we got it in and I’m so glad she did. I knew absolutely nothing about Benedict Arnold other than that he was a traitor. Who knew he was also a war hero? And such an interesting person? Even though it is written for a YA audience, I think adults can enjoy this book, too. I didn’t love it quite as much as I loved his MG non-fiction books, but it was a solid read.
Best Indie Book?
Sciber by Ben Dobson. Anyone who enjoys realistic, complex low fantasy (think Rothfuss, Martin, Sanderson) will enjoy Scriber. An intriguing and well thought out (if a little bit standard) story line. Solid writing, plotting, structure, description, world building. Interesting characters. My only (slight) quibble is that Bryndine reminded me just a little bit too much of Brienne (Game of Thrones) in both name and temperament. Well written (and edited!). A solid, enjoyable read.
The Rest of the Indie Books?
I read Higginson’s Star-Crossed series after finishing The Book Thief because I really needed some light reading to cleanse my palette. From the book description I thought this was going to be a fantasy novel with romance elements, unfortunately this was a YA paranormal romance — a genre I don’t enjoy. I have a hard time with some of the conventions of YA romance novels — helpless, naive, pretty, ditzy, girls. Hot guys with muscles. Contrived relationships. Dangerous courtships. Lots of whining. Fashionable clothes. It’s just not my cup-of-tea. I read all four books; I’m not sure why. If you like paranormal romance, you’ll probably enjoy this series because it is a reasonably well written indie.
The Bakkian Chronicles had a solid premise but desperately needed a professional developmental edit followed by a line edit. I couldn’t finish it — I gave up 2/3 of the way through the book.