I am so shamefully embarrassed about the length of my September reading list. It’s half as long as my August Reading Roundup, but I’ve been reading just as much, even more. I’ve read nine full manuscripts (in eleven workdays) through my internship at FP-NC, some of which were fantastic and I’m sure will be published books soon. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to say a peep about them yet. So just a list of the published books I’ve read this past month will have to suffice.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This one doesn’t even technically belong on this list. I read it last month and forgot to include it, but it’s so good, I had to mention it now. I’ve wanted to read it for years but it always remained on my to-be-read list, until my best friend sent it my way. Since she sent it to me, I HAD to read it (note to Heather: maybe I should send Rebecca your way again and guilt you into reading it finally. Note to everyone else: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite books ever because of its gothic feel. I Capture the Castle was to me what Rebecca is to Heather…a modern classic that somehow remains on your to-be-read list. Don’t be like us. Read both now.) Anyways, so I read I Capture to Castle finally last month. It was a fantastic coming-of-age story, complete with a crumbling castle in the English countryside, very eccentric characters and a sweet protagonist who records this story in her diary. The characters make the story; they are so unique, you just want to know everything about them. I also haven’t seen the movie adaptation yet, but Heather claims it’s fantastic and actually sticks decently close to the novel. And one last note: Dodie Smith actually wrote 101 Dalmatians! Who knew we had her to thanks for Cruella and all those other wonderful characters we associate with Disney?
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
While attempting to organize my overflowing bookshelves, I discovered this book which had been hanging around since my days interning at Bloomsbury…and I had never read it! *gasp* A Newbery winner, Princess Academy follows an unlikely and tiny protagonist as all the eligible girls are sent to a boarding school to learn how to be a princess, because the fates have decided the prince will marry one of the girls from their region. These girls are not princess-like, and that’s exactly what makes them relatable. Battling a harsh teacher, bullies and bandits (literally), these girls will learn that there really is a princess in the making in their midst. This is a spoiler, but…best of all, the princess isn’t our protagonist. Princess Academy isn’t some fairy tale, but it absolutely has a happily ever after.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Thriller’s aren’t my genre. At all. But since Steig Larsson’s books have been on the bestseller lists for sooooo long and even my mom raved about the books, I knew I’d have to read it. It took my a while to read (probably because I kept on putting it on pause in order to read YA novels. I still stand by my opinion that they’re the best type of book out there). All things considered, though, I enjoyed the novel. The first 100 or so pages just introduce the overwhelming number of characters without much action and the last 100 or so pages seem like a let down once the main action finished, but the lengthy middle of the novel is face paced, exciting, gruesome and disturbing…the perfect thriller. While it may take me a while to get around to reading the next two books in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, I’m sure I will read them…just as soon as I cover all the amazing YA books out there.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
I’ve come to realize more than anything that voice is what matters in a good book. Yes, you’ve got to have good characters and a good plot…but will you care about who the characters are and what they do if they don’t have a good voice? No. You’ve got to have a strong voice, and Jacqueline Kelly’s Newbery Honor debut novel absolutely has it. Callie Vee, as the title character is called in this charming MG coming-of-age story, realizes that a future in housewifery isn’t for her…instead, she butters up her grandfather and they embark on the study of evolution and a scientific adventure, allowing Callie Vee to realize that there’s a big world out there prime for discovering. The turn of the century freak Texas snowstorm confirms it…Callie’s world is changing, and she’s changing right along with it.
Personal Demons by Lisa Desroches
Angels are hot. Not just in this debut novel, but in all of YA. I feel like half the manuscripts and queries I’ve read recently, not to mention the books stocked in stores, are about angels, fallen angels and demons. Yet in Personal Demons Desroches makes both Gabe, an angel, AND Luc, a devil, (very) attractive characters and potential love interests. I love the tag line on the front cover: “If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be? Are you sure about that...?” Because Frannie’s decision isn’t so easy, and that’s kudos to Desroches. Desroches’ intriguing addition to the biblical mythology with Frannie’s powers of sway makes this angels vs. demons story much more that what you would expect.
The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger
The fact that this book finally made it off of my to-be-read list and into this month’s reading roundup is in all likelihood a miracle. Because, just a few days ago at work, my ‘job’ for the morning was to enjoy the rare treat of sitting down and reading a published book to get a better feel for NC’s clients. And, of course, from a selection of five or so novels, I had to read The DUFF first. The entire book took me four and a half hours…it was just that good. Bianca, the original DUFF, had a fantastic voice and the main love interest was a fantastic love-him-hate-him character. And while critics might complain that the sex scenes are a bit too steamy for a YA novel (not true, btw), every girl should read this…because we’ve all been a DUFF at some point. It’s what you do once you’re a DUFF that matters.
A Faithful Place by Tana French
This was, to quote one of my fellow FP-NC interns, “work-assigned-reading-for-fun” as part of our book club. Suzie and Joanna explained that once you’re in publishing it feels like you never actually read a published book; they’re all just manuscripts, so to amend that problem, we’re reading a REAL book once a month. October’s book is A Faithful Place (and I got a head start and finished it just in time for September’s reading roundup). This book wouldn’t have been my first choice in terms of pleasure books, but it is fantastically written. The voice captures you right away and through a heavy use of Irish slang, immediately brings the reader to lower class Dublin. The mystery is intriguing and although the ending (and much of the entire plot) is violent and depressing, it will keep you reading.
That’s it for September. Looking forward to seeing what books October will bring my way!