What I’m Reading Wednesday…or Thursday*

While there are a million things I should be doing (cleaning, laundry, exercising, to name a few), what I HAVE been doing is reading. And the only thing more addictive than my Kindle right now is my Kindle app for my iPad – I’ve been adding books right and left.

Following up on a few book-related tweets by Kate Wilson (@Nosy Crow), I started reading some books that fall into the Young Adult category; in my opinion, they are young adult due to the age of the main characters, but will appeal to adults too. The books she recommended lead to more Young Adult novels, although, don’t be fooled – in some cases, the subject matter is pretty tough.

The first book I picked up while on holiday was “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness. It is the first book of the Chaos Walking trilogy, and if you’re like me, you’ll be ordering Book two (“The Ask and the Answer”) and Book three (“Monsters of Men“) before you even finish Book one!   The book centers on Todd, a young boy who lives in a world where men’s (and animals’) thoughts – their “Noise” – are overwhelmingly audible; not so for the  women – they are all dead – or so he thinks, until he and his dog, Manchee, discover a “hole” in the Noise, and encounter Viola.  The how and the why unfold over the course of the story, which draws you in quickly. Ness is excellent at building the characters – Todd’s dog Manchee is endearing – and even better at building tension – and cliff hangers.  The pacing is quick – I couldn’t put this one down.

Another book that I finished on holiday was a selection by my book club: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. Another book that falls in the Young Adult category, the story of young Liesel Meminger – the Book Thief of the title – is set in Nazi Germany, and interestingly, the narrator of the story is Death. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this choice, but it adds a depth and perspective to the story that it wouldn’t have otherwise. Liesel lives with her foster parents – an unlikely pair – who end up hiding a Jewish refugee in their basement, and it is the story of her relationship with them, her best friend Rudy, the reclusive mayor’s wife who she steals books from, and her discovery of the power of words. It’s a lyrical, beautiful book – and it made me weep. It’s one that I will be reading again.

Keeping with a slightly heavy theme and staying in the Young Adult category, I just finished reading “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman last night. Wow. Set in the future following a civil war between the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life camps – one that was settled by a compromise that abortion will be abolished, but instead, parents may choose to have their 13-to-17 year old child “unwound” – a process in which their bodies are harvested, every body part being used for transplant purposes (so, theoretically, they are not dead, just living in different bodies).  The plot follows three teens – a “tithe”, a “ward” and a boy whose parents give up on him –  as they escape en-route to harvest camp.  Yes, the concept is horrifying in itself, but the plot is complex and gripping.

Alrighty, then….on that note, I think we need a lighter tale. One author who will provide just the thing is Sarah Addison Allen. Her books are set in the South and all incorporate a magical element that is hard to describe. In “Garden Spells“, Claire runs a catering business, which is successful in part due to her special abilities with using edible flowers and herbs to affect the eater in a particular manner. (One flower might cause the eater to only tell the truth, a special wine might reveal your deepest desire). “The Sugar Queen” is the book that first introduced me to Allen’s works, and is another whimsical and magical story.

Thanks to an Amazon.com “based on your purchase you may like” recommendation, her books led me to Cathy Lamb. “Julia’s Chocolates” starts out with the line “I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota.”.

I was hooked from there.

Lamb’s characters are flawed, humorously written, and complex.  I laughted hysterically with “The Last Time I was Me” and found “Henry’s Sisters” lovely, funny and sad.

I told you. My house REALLY needs cleaning.

Now, go find a book, pour yourself a lemonade, pick a spot in the sun where you can see hear are aware of your kids in the yard/on the trampoline, and enjoy what’s left of the summer.

*because I’m the stooge that accidentally published her Writers’ Workshop post on WEDNESDAY, thinking it was Thursday already. Now there is some wishful thinking, eh? 

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