Being Henry David, by Cal Armistead:
Being Henry David is one of those frustrating stories in which the protagonist could save himself pages and pages of torment and confusion if he’d just, you know, ask someone for help. But Armistead makes Hank’s reasons for avoiding the authorities emotionally believable and logically plausible, so it’s not really an issue. It is, as evidenced by my one-sitting read, an extremely compelling book, and the Thoreau quotes are woven in quite nicely: I can easily imagine this book inspiring younger readers to go and look him up.
The Sin Eater's Confession, by Ilsa J. Bick: This one, I haven't written about. It's EXCELLENT, in a punch-you-in-the-face kind of way.
Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler:
There’s plenty of humor—the official Kirkus review called it “hilarious,” though I found it more subdued than that—but I had a lump in my throat for almost the entire 400 pages. It’s written with such emotional honesty that it’s impossible not to empathize with Hartzler’s young self: regardless of whether he’s writing about his Big Questions about God and religion or getting caught in a lie about buying the Pretty Woman soundtrack.
Dark Triumph, by Robin LeFevers:
Because Sybella is so damaged, so emotionally scarred, it's hard to engage with her at first. For the first third or so of the book, everything she feels—or at least everything she admits to feeling—towards others is either dark and violent, or tinged with self-loathing and fear. She hates and fears her family; she distrusts her abbess; she fears that if Ismae knew her true self, that she would lose their friendship. Once she starts to embrace herself, to forgive herself, and to realize that she HASN'T DONE ANYTHING THAT REQUIRES FORGIVENESS, she becomes much easier to engage with, and her fierce joy in fighting, in righting wrongs, and in Beast himself is just... profound.
Like, I felt it in my head, my heart, my gut, my toes.
September Girls, by Bennett Madison: I haven't written about this one either. Here's my nutshell reaction: It's a book that takes a lot of work and requires a lot of thought on the part of the reader, and I mean both of those things in the best possible way. It took some heat for being supposedly "anti-feminist", but I didn't read it like that AT ALL: it struck me as EXTREMELY feminist, in that it explores different aspects and pressures and issues—from commentary on broad cultural trends to more personal one-on-one to even more personal internal stuff—of the Female Condition, as it were. It's about the boxes that we put other people in, and the boxes that other people put us in, and the boxes that we put OURSELVES in. Good stuff.
A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty: Yeesh, I haven't written about this one EITHER, and I loved it! Moriarty is so fantastic at creating multiple distinct voices within one story, and this book is no exception. Also, I loved the stuff with the colors.
Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick:
OH MY GOD, I LOVE THIS BOOK.
And I have no idea how to write about it.
Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepeyts:
Oh, I loved this book. As it's got the same combination of fantastically-rendered historical atmosphere—the dialogue is TO DIE FOR—and mystery elements, I highly, HIGHLY recommend it to fans of Judy Blundell's What I Saw and How I Lied.
All Our Yesterdays, by Cristin Terrill:
Terrill does a great job of writing two versions of the same characters: Future Em and Past Marina, Finn's selves and, to a lesser degree, James' past and future selves are all clearly the same people with the same personalities, but they are vastly different in terms of maturity and perspective. Which is extremely cool. Some readers are BOUND to have difficulty with the contrast between Em and Marina—Marina's everyday does-he-like-me and will-this-food-make-me-fat woes could easily come off as self-absorbed and somewhat obnoxious when compared to the high stakes Save The World backdrop of the story—but in context of story and character, Marina's issues work: she hasn't been through everything Em has, she doesn't have that perspective, and she hasn't yet developed a Steely Core.
Palace of Spies, by Sarah Zettel:
Lines like, “There is nothing so much noticed or so long remembered as a girl’s gown, especially by those who are not her friends” are bound to draw comparisons to Jane Austen, but its romp-y nature puts it more in line with Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. I have no doubt whatsoever that Heyer fans—especially those who prefer her more hijinks-heavy stories—will find it similarly witty and fun and just…HAPPY MAKING.
Erin Bow's Sorrow's Knot is on the list, too, and I'm PLANNING on reading it. But I've been avoiding because I still haven't quite recovered from Plain Kate. Anyway, be sure to click on through for the whole thing, because there are a whole bunch of NON-USUAL SUSPECT titles, which is SO PLEASANT!