Today has been a day filled with work from about 6 AM to…um…it is still continuing now.
There were brief interludes to eat dinner and take the dog for a walk. The dog, incidentally, has hit a milestone in his life: today he caught his first squirrel. I am a little perturbed by this development, and he was utterly delighted. (For the curious: It was a ground squirrel. He nosed it up off the ground, shook it, flung it in the air. We called him off at that point, and–good dog!–he actually came. But he was very, very insistent in wanting to go back to where we found the squirrel, convinced that we’d made him leave behind the newest, best toy ever.)
Despite all that, here I am, to distribute copies of Warrior and to tell you about some books I read over the weekend during the few hours when I was not working, and which, incidentally, I have extra copies of. For you.
First, the winners of Warrior are: Llehn and Cris. Congratulations! Send me your snail mail addresses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, the books.
- Emma Wildes’ My Lord Scandal. This is a book about a rake and a sheltered virgin. But it is not the book you think–the rake is actually really honorable at heart (even though he is, after all, a rake), and the virgin, while a virgin, is so matter-of-fact and straight-forward and in charge of her life. There is no misunderstanding. There is no kicking and screaming on the part of either of the characters, when they realize that love is descending with nasty, clawed teeth. There is no stupidity. In fact, one of the most delicious things about this book is that it’s a straight-up love story: you really do believe that Alex and Amelia are really, really good together, and that they are going to be deliriously happy together for the rest of their life.
And yet there is constant tension throughout, with never a dull moment. These are two of the most likable characters I’ve seen–for their forthright honesty, their commitment to each other, and their ability to cope with some really awful situations. I’m not sure I can describe the awesomeness that is this book. It’s sort of like, I’m reading it, and thinking, “Oy, setting up for misunderstanding in three, two, one…Wha? They didn’t! Yes! He didn’t do that! Awesome!”
Also, this book is incredibly hot. I’m just saying. Loved, loved, loved this book.
- The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. This book is a YA book. It uses words like “asshole” and “fuck,” though. There is Cherry-Coke induced violence. I didn’t count the number of times that the main character has sex (with the same guy). So this isn’t precisely your grandma’s YA. It’s an edgy, raw book–one where the heroine does some things that feel almost dangerously self-destructive. But as the book progresses, we start seeing that her coping mechanisms aren’t as downright awful as you might think. And yeah, Bianca, the heroine of this book, is more than a little bitter. But we see that she has reasons–real reasons to be.
Wesley is the romantic love interest, and he is not romanticized one bit–not by the book, the story, or Bianca, who is so straight-forward and clear-thinking, that I want to stand up on cheer. There is no “but he loves me so it is okay!” justifications going on here. There is no “I must prove myself to him by some act of painful self-sacrifice!” vibe, either. It’s just about Bianca, figuring out what she deserves, and realizing that she doesn’t have to be the sweetest little piece of docile cherry pie ever to get it.. There are some parts of this book that are laugh out loud funny. There are some parts that are downright brilliantly heart-stopping. There is one scene where I finally, finally start cheering for Wes. Neither Wes nor Bianca have to be perfect–nor do they have to apologize for their imperfections to each other. At the end of the day, I think these two like (and I do use the word “like” advisedly) each other for their imperfections, not in spite of them.
I’m not sure how to describe this book to readers of adult romance, but just think about it this way: If Victoria Dahl’s heroines were in high school? Yeah. They would be Bianca. And if that doesn’t sell you on it, I’m not sure what will!
This is one of the best YA books I have read this year, if not the best. Straight-up no-nonsense awesomeness.
So: there’s my last week’s reading in a nutshell. (Actually, there were more books–but these were the three huge standouts.) These books were such huge standouts that I actually went to the bookstore today for the purpose of getting extra copies to give away. Normally, extra copies just sort of magically appear, because I can’t help myself. These…these I went to get on purpose.
Also, as a note: the author world is very small, and quite often I know the authors whose books I’m giving away. This is not to imply that I’m less than honest in my discussions (alike Sarah Rees Brennan, I just don’t do negative reviews–so I keep my mouth shut, generally.) In this case, I’ve never met either Emma Wildes or Kody Keplinger in my life. We’re not friends. We’re not even acquaintances. And I loved both books enough that honestly, I had to buy extra copies and I had to give them away, because I want everyone to read these books. They are just that good.
So. There you are. If you didn’t win Warrior, you can win another book. And both these books are made of utter awesomeness.