But this hardly seems fair. If I loved a book, I really should mention it. So if you needed an extra nudge towards any of these books, I recommend them heartily!
Nation by Terry Pratchett
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
I recommend them in a bit more detail here!
I hesitated about reading Nation because I heard it was Very Serious Business, and part of why I love Pratchett is because he's so funny. Oh, funny books. They are my drug of choice. But they have to be books which aren't just there to be funny, books which make it clear the author cares about the characters and takes them seriously as well as being able to have fun with them. I like laughing with books, not at them.
I should not have worried! The book is funny. And it's not just funny, it slides a knife between my ribs and then makes me laugh and then slides a knife between my ribs again, and the fact it's funny makes the pain hurt more! This is why humourless books full of angst and pain puzzle me: I am like, 'But, author, why have you not noticed that you can make this book both more fun and more painful?'
The romance between Mau and Daphne. Pratchett doesn't normally do much romance, and so I wasn't expecting it though I would've been with any other author, and I really liked it! And there's this one line. That Mau says to Daphne. I will not spoil it by quoting it, but y'all, I wept like a baby whose candy just got stolen.
I have a terrible confession to make. I never loved a book by Neil Gaiman before.
I know! I mean, he's very brilliant, and I always appreciated that, but there was never that extra hook that reeled me in and made me love his books. But then I was at a convention and he told us the premise of the book, which is 'The Jungle Book - but instead of a kid being raised by animals in a jungle, he's raised by ghosts in a graveyard.'
Awesome twist on an old tale? I was so hooked.
A dead witch to our hero, Nobody Owens: 'Us in the graveyard, we want you to stay alive. We want you to surprise us and disappoint us and impress us and amaze us.'
I liked that definition of living very much.
The Hunger Games - a futuristic world where kids are chosen by lottery to fight each other to the death live on TV. Katniss, our heroine, who is kickass in a way I really enjoy - a way that's grim, and real, and not glamorous at all - takes her sister's place in the Games.
Entering in on the Games, the boy chosen from Katniss's district declares his undying love for her, which Katniss figures is a clever PR move. Then she works out that the audience really love this forbidden romance, and the more they love it, the better Katniss's chance to live is.
I love this. How can you trust someone else's love when you know it could all be a lie, and a lie you couldn't blame them for? When the cameras are always on you and you have to perform for them, how can you be sure what you feel - when do you start convincing yourself? I want these two to get married and be together forever. I foresee a love triangle in book two, and I hope the other guy gets eaten by a bear!
The writing is very plain and spare, as I discovered while flipping through it trying to find a quote to use here, but I think that just makes the book more dynamic. I was pretty much hysterical all through Christmas dinner because I hadn't finished it yet.
MUM: Stop twitching, it makes you look like a jelly with a Christmas hat on top.
SARAH: BUT WHAT IF WE ARE ALL KILLED BY MUTANT DOGS? WHAT THEN?
MUM: ... Eat your turkey.
City of Glass is the third book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy, and as it wraps up the series me reviewing the book with details would just be me serving you all up a huge pile of spoilers with whipped cream. So I shan't.
But basically: snarky Jewish vampires, gay and glittering part-Asian warlocks, a world where all myths are true and all the one-liners are hilarious. ('My Romanian is pretty much limited to useful phrases like, "Are these snakes poisonous?" and "But you look much too young to be a police officer."') I trust everyone can put two and two together to come up with awesome.
City of Glass has lots of my favourite character, including some scenes from his point of view, and it introduces my new second-favourite character. It's an awesome finale to the series. It came out Tuesday! I am so happy for all Cassie's fabulousness.
I am also happy about Carrie Ryan's fabulousness. Her debut book The Forest of Hands and Teeth came out while we were at the Castle, on the same day as Jennifer Lynn Barnes's Fate, so I brought them champagne bottles with a picture of a saucy lady on them. 'How tasteless,' they said 'How shocking,' and Carrie added 'Do you expect me to fight the zombie hordes while tipsy?' But I know they liked them really.
I first started talking to Carrie through debut2009, which I have mentioned here before.
SARAH: Hello Carrie I hear your book is awesome, it is about zombies, I find that awesome!
CARRIE: I am glad to meet a fellow zombie enthusiast.
SARAH: So, this girl in your book. Mary. Does she have a zombie boyfriend?
CARRIE: Uh, no.
SARAH: Zombie girlfriend?
CARRIE: Sarah, how are we meant to combat the forces of supernatural evil when you insist on dating them?
Carrie is very practical. So is Carrie's heroine Mary, who lives in a world a couple of centuries after the zombie apocalypse in a village ruled by evil nuns. Evil nuns. Zombie apocalypse. And a sensible heroine. I was in love by the second paragraph.
So there is talk of the agony of finding out someone you love is infected and will become a zombie, and how naturally you are desperate to be with them just one more day and fall into desperate denial and cannot contemplate hurting them.
So someone Mary loves gets infected. (I will not say if it is one of the two boys in her love triangle, her brother, her cousin, or the orphan boy they adopt. You will have to read it and see!)
MARY: ... HAND ME THAT SHOVEL.
Have you guys found yourself hesitant to talk about really popular stuff you love, just because it is popular and everyone does it? I remember holding off on reading Harry Potter for just that reason years ago. (Also, I didn't watch Gossip Girl for ages. Horrible mistake!)