Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Latest Three: Creep-tastic Takeover (Even Though We're Half Way Through Novemberry)

It's here! Another Latest Three!
And I am pleased to inform you that all three books were ones I greatly enjoyed, which isn't necessarily rare, but something I'm always glad to admit when it comes to these posts.
For Halloween this year, I tried to stick with a creepier set of books. And yes, I understand we're half way through Novemberry already, but I knew what books I was going to read before hand for this post and of course I couldn't talk about them until I finished them.
But now I have finished them, and here they are.
The Latest Three!

A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Susan Dennard
To sum it up in a sentence, the book is a bit dark, a bit strange, and very lovely. One of the biggest things I admire about Dennard's writing is that she takes a sub-genre of YA fiction (one I admittedly don't read much of: paranormal with minor or major romance) and gives it this quality of purely classic storytelling. The point here is mostly about adventure, about zombies and exotic history, about opulence and underground secrets, about friendship, romance, and the ever important internal struggle of a young girl in a conservative era, dealing with magnificent power. I also love it when authors are smart enough to spice things up and also pump up the drama by setting the next book in a far off place. Immediately, there's intrigue in that alone, and I wish writers would take that route more often. Overall, I think Dennard did a tre magnifique job at writing the daunting sequel to her first Something Strange and Deadly, which I also loved, and that's something that, as an avid reader of YA, is a bit hard to come by. Well done Dennard! Can't wait for book three, Strange and Ever After, Egypt here we come. Oh, and love the cover!

City of the Beasts, Isabelle Allende
I haven't yet read any of Allende's books. (She mostly writes for adult audiences.) But I've heard many good things about her, mostly from my mom, who's read several of them and badgers me to read them as well. Well when I saw Allende had a YA book out, I immediately jumped at the chance. Not only would it make my mom happy, but it sounded like an awesome read. Basic plot: young boy goes on grand adventure with Grandma into the heart of the amazon to hunt down what they are calling the Beast, basically the Big Foot of the Amazon. Only the Beast they're looking for, might not be the Beast they need most fear. In general, I love this kind of plot. Many times, it means edge of your seat adventure in far off places, but also a slew of characters who's arc is unraveled in a way that eventually makes you question every thought you first had about them and, often, about other broader ideas when you first started the book. This was definitely one of those books. It was so believable, not only because of the research that was so obviously done, but because of the world-building, which I found not only in the tribal influence that becomes a very critical part of the book, but the beautiful way in which the two main characters become--and I don't use that word lightly--a part of that world. A gripping read, and, yes!, there's a sequel, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon. I'll be working on that one next and then it's off to The House of the Spirits, her most highly recommended book I've encountered.

Throat, R. A. Nelson
I have this book in hard back because, even though it came out in 2011, I bought it but just never managed to get to it until now...though, admittedly, there are a good handful of books on my shelves that hide the same story. I'll start out by saying there is nothing to this cover that deceives your imagination. Yes, this book is about vampires. I personally do not read many books about vampires. I had my Twilight days and I am not shameful of them in the least. But those books were out for a while, and I knew it, too, before a good friend of mine insisted I read them. So in general, and not in an "on my book taste superiority high horse" sort of way, I don't read a lot of vampire centered fiction, nor do I read a lot of zombie fiction either. But! In the circumstance that a hook can draw me in, like a zombie book with a female heroine in the heart and heat of late 1800's Philadelphia with dashing Spirit Hunters--thanks Susan Dennard, I'm more than willing to tread into unfamiliar water. Here the protagonist is also female, but she starts out with a pretty extreme disability--epilepsy, or, as she calls it, the curse. The drama gets started when a monstrous vampire attacks her and she goes into a grand mal seizure at the same time, which not only saves her life but gives her super-powers, turning her into a kind of fantastical half-vampire. This notion of a very real disease being a young girl's saving grace in the deadly clutches of classic such evil folk lore as a vampire was a major genius idea in mixture of realism and magic, and so of course I had to give it a try. Oh! And did I mention it mainly takes place on the base of NASA? All the lore that Nelson created around his version of good and bad vampires, the detailed world-building that is the NASA base, swoony, lovable Sadan, and my absolute favorite character of the book, Papi, all make for a great YA paranormal read with a romantic element I'd categorize somewhere between minor and major! I've been looking into Nelson's other books and both Breathe My Name and Days of Little Texas sound like excellent reads. Check 'em out!

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