September 30, 2014

The Monthly Digest: September 2014

Welcome back to The Monthly Digest here at Late Nights with Good Books. With these posts I hope to recap everything reading- and blogging-related for the past month.

The Books

Favorite read from September:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Notable quote from September:
“Miss Fitt, you know curiosity gets men killed."
I grinned. "Then I daresay it's good I'm a woman.”  

Susan Dennard, Something Strange and Deadly

The Blog
September Reviews:
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Firebug by Lish McBride

September Features:

ARC August: A Recap
Showcase Sunday #17
Heir of Fire Tour
Top Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book From But Need to Read More From Soon
Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

In My Life
As you can probably tell, my reading time slowed down significantly this past month. Between becoming a full-time graduate student, searching for part-time jobs, working part-time jobs, and doing homework, I haven't had a lot of free time, and I just haven't felt as motivated to spend my little free time reading. Hopefully that will change once I have a set schedule again!
Outside of having no free time for reading, the other frustrating aspect about my life right now is that I have no free time for writing. I got to meet Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, and Erica O'Rourke earlier this month, which was wonderful. Even more wonderful, however, was talking a bit with Susan and Erica about my love of writing. I left the event feeling invigorated and full of creativity, but unfortunately writing keeps getting pushed back on my priority list. I want to get back into it again sooner rather than later but it, like everything else, is kind of on hold while I get my bearings right now.

It's been quite the adjustment becoming a student and regaining that sort of mentality, but even though it's been exhausting, this past month has also been really exciting and I'm becoming more convinced that librarianship is the field I want to base my career around. So, definitely some good can be found in all of this.

How was your September?
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September 23, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing the books that have made it to the top of our Fall 2014 To-Be-Read piles. 

New & Upcoming Fall Releases:
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios Because I adored Demetrios' debut, Something Real. And because she's apparently a friend of a friend (which is awesome). And because this is about genies and Arabian Nights.
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth — I've wanted to read this one since I first heard about its release in the U.K. (over a year ago). This is a historical fiction retelling of "Rapunzel" and the people whose lives inspired the creation of the tale. 
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay I've got to support authors like Jay who specialize in fairy-tale retellings. Her upcoming novel is about Sleeping Beauty's warrior daughter and is described as a mix of Game of Thrones and Grimms' fairy tales.
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson The Sky is Everywhere is probably my favorite YA contemporary novel ever. I'm hoping for the same levels of weirdness and poignancy in Nelson's sophomore novel.
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters — I loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds and am so excited to read Winters' take on the U.S. suffragette movement of the early 1900s (with a dash of hypnotism thrown in for good measure).
Owned Older Releases: 
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison — I like reading heavier, more complex stories in the fall. And Addison's story certainly promises complexity, as well as some fantastic worldbuilding. I can't wait!
Courted by Katherine Longshore — Oh, Tudor fiction, how I've missed you. Historical fiction is another one of my go-to genres as the weather turns cooler and I love that this is actually two stories bound together. More reading time!
Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson — I'm currently re-reading Roberson's Lady of the Forest and loving it. Lady of the Glen is about a forbidden romance between two feuding Scottish clans. And as a bonus: apparently my boyfriend's family is descended from one of those clans.
Mistborn by Brandson Sanderson — This will get read this fall, for real. I now own two Sanderson books from two different series. I will not be the last fantasy fan to read his works, I just will not.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente — As will this. My little sister just started re-reading her copy of this book, and that's kind of embarrassing that I haven't been able to read this one once yet. No longer.

Please let me know which books have made it onto your Fall 2014 TBR list! 
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September 22, 2014

Review: Firebug by Lish McBride

Firebug by Lish McBride
Series: Firebug, #1
Published: September 23, 2014, Henry Holt and Co. BYR
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

Ava possesses the unique ability to set things on fire with her mind. In her world, she’s referred to as a firebug and considered to be a highly desirable magical being. Her mother, another firebug, was essentially an indentured hitwoman by a magical mafia-like group known as the Coterie and fled to protect Ava from living the same sort of life. She failed and was killed, and Ava has been bound up in the same sort of service for the past few years.

As much as Ava dislikes being a pawn of the Coterie and its leader Venus, a power-hungry vampire, at least she’s been able to lead a somewhat normal teenage existence, living with her mother’s friend, attending high school, and working with her two best friends on Coterie missions. When Ava’s next target is supposed to be another family friend, however, it provides the push Ava needs to finally rebel against the organization that has controlled her life for too long.
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September 18, 2014

Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published: September 23, 2014, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

For all his experience with spells, he still didn’t understand what I have always known so well: magic seldom works the way you want.

Avery Roe’s life has been planned out for her since birth. She was born into the Roe family, which means that magic is in her blood and she is to be trained as the next Roe witch of her home, Prince Island. Avery has spent her childhood living with her grandma, the current Roe witch, and wants nothing more than to take her grandmother’s place someday.

Unfortunately, Avery is her mother’s daughter as much as her grandmother’s granddaughter. Her mother, who rejected the Roe birthright, decides that she does not want Avery taking up its mantle either, and takes Avery away with her to the other side of the island, so that they may live normal lives. But Avery doesn’t want to be normal when she can be a Roe witch, especially after she foresees her own murder in a dream. To take up her rightful place and circumvent her death (for Roe witches cannot be murdered), Avery is willing to do whatever it takes to break her mother’s enchantment and become reunited with her grandmother once more.
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September 16, 2014

Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But Need to Read More From Soon

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the BookishThis week we are discussing those authors we've read only one book from so far, but fully intend on reading more from in the near future.
Author: Julie Berry 
Book read: All the Truth That's in Me
Why: I cannot properly explain how in awe I am of Berry's All the Truth That's in Me. It's short, beautiful, and has such a strong lasting power. I'll try anything by Berry, but I love the sound of her fairy-tale-esque MG novels.
Next pick: Secondhand Charm

Author: Sarah Dessen
Book read: Just Listen
Why: To be honest, I was not in love with Dessen's Just Listen. But I read it towards the beginning of my return to YA lit and book blogging. Having gained a bit more appreciation for YA contemporaries, there's no way I won't give Dessen another try.
Next pick: The Truth About Forever


Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Book read: Vessel
Why: Vessel reads like a work of mythology and deals with some complex questions related to identity and purpose. It also features my favorite fantasy trope of all time: the Chosen One. Durst has such an eclectic array of books that I'll have to make sure I'm not expecting another book similar to this one, though.
Next pick: Ice

Author: Kate Elliott
Book read: Cold Magic
Why: I need some more well done steampunk in my life. Besides the fact that the worldbuilding is amazing, I loved how Cold Magic emphasizes the friendship of Cat and Bee above all else. I definitely need to continue with this series!
Next pick: Cold Fire


Author: Kody Keplinger
Book read: The DUFF
Why: Despite it not sounding like the sort of book I tend to prefer, I had a feeling that I'd love The DUFF. And I was right. I loved Bianca and Wesley and how true the story rang. I want Keplinger to be my go-to YA contemporary author.
Next pick: A Midsummer's Nightmare


Author: N.K. Jemisin
Book read: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Why: Political intrigue. Living, breathing gods. A fantasy where nearly all of the characters are POCs. Need I go on? Yeine is a truly admirable heroine, and I'm a bit sad the rest of the series is companion novels, but I need to read more Jemisin soon.
Next pick: The Broken Kingdoms

Author:Jandy Nelson
Book read: The Sky is Everywhere
Why: Maybe this is cheating because Nelson only has two books now, the second of which comes out today. But I don't care. Reading The Sky is Everywhere was an absolutely magical experience and I can't wait to feel the same way about her new book.
Next pick: I'll Give You the Sun

Author: Liza Palmer
Book read: Nowhere But Home
Why: I'm still a bit surprised by how much I loved Nowhere But Home. Reading it confirmed that I need to have some more adult fiction in my life, and what better place to start than with an adult fiction author I already like?
Next pick: Seeing Me Naked

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Book read: The Scorpio Races
Why: I'm kind of embarrassed that I've only read one book of Stiefvater's. Which I loved. (Seriously, what's wrong with me?) And with all the hype currently surrounding Blue Lily, Lily Blue, it just makes sense to start her The Raven Cycle.
Next pick: The Raven Boys


Author: Sara Zarr
Book read: How to Save a Life
Why: How to Save a Life was a really powerful book that resonated so well with certain real-life situations of mine that I couldn't help but love it. (But it also was just really well done.) I'm eager to read more of Zarr's works and see if they too can affect me so deeply.
Next pick: The Lucy Variations 

Let me know which authors you hope to read more from soon!
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September 15, 2014

Review: Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent, #0.1-0.4
Published: 2014, Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Source: Library
Contains spoilers for Divergent (my review), Insurgent (my review), Allegiant (my review)

I'm not sure bravery is something you acquire more of with age, like wisdom --but maybe here, in Dauntless, bravery is the highest form of wisdom, the acknowledgement that life can and should be lived without fear.

I’m a bit torn on what to think of this. On the one hand, it’s hard not to view this as a money grab, as a way for Roth’s series to continue to stay relevant. On the other hand, I’ll admit it was kind of interesting to delve a bit into the history of Abnegation-born Tobias Eaton, and the chain of events that led him to become Four, a Dauntless instructor.

Four: A Divergent Collection tells the backstory of Four in four (of course) short stories. “The Transfer” focuses on the days leading up - and following - Four’s choosing ceremony. “The Initiate” focuses on the beginnings of Four’s Dauntless training, and the cultivation of his new persona as “Four,” the initiate with only four fears. “The Son” gives a bit more backstory as to why Four chose to transfer factions, and focuses on his familial relationships in particular. “The Traitor” actually is synchronous with the events of Divergent, as Four begins to question his faction and fall for new initiate Tris (not necessarily in that order).
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September 11, 2014

Heir of Fire Tour (with Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, and Erica O'Rourke)

I can't believe I'm already up to book event #3 for the year (or ever, really). I met up with a friend who now lives in the Chicago area to attend the Heir of Fire signing at Anderson's Bookshops in a nearby suburb this past Sunday, September 7, 2014.

Sarah J. Maas explained that for the tour, her publisher Bloomsbury allowed her to pick the author friends to accompany her at the various stops. Also in attendance at Anderson's were Susan Dennard (for obvious reasons), author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, and Erica O'Rourke (who I think lives nearby), most recently the author of Dissonance.

Luckily my friend and I got there a bit early and were able to secure spots relatively close to the front, as the event became very crowded very quickly.

Meeting the lovely Sarah J. Maas

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September 9, 2014

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Published: 2014, Harper
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Source: Library
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

"You're young and reckless, Lady, It's a desirable quality in a warrior, but not in a queen."

Kelsea Raleigh has the dubious honor of being the rightful heir to the Tearling throne, a position that no single person inhabits for long. With the arrival of her nineteenth birthday, Kelsea can finally claim her throne, but she’s also become the most hunted person in all of the Tearling. The men of her mother’s Queen’s Guard - now her Queen’s Guard - have sworn to protect Kelsea and escort her back to the capital city for her coronation, but the road there will be anything but easy.

Even after she’s arrived back in the capital, Kelsea has quite the task ahead of her, learning how to be queen while dealing with her power-hungry uncle, a mistrustful, hope-deprived people, many traitors within her reach, and the mysterious Red Queen of the neighboring country of Mortmesne.
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September 7, 2014

Showcase Sunday #17

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

All in all, August was a fairly light month of book acquisitions. And of these eight books, I've actually already read three of them. Progress!

Courted by Katherine Longshore
I won a copy of the bind-up of Longshore's Tudor novels Gilt and Tarnish through a giveaway hosted by Jen @ The Starry-Eyed Revue in conjunction with Penguin (or should I now be calling it Penguin Random House?). So thanks to both of you for this! I absolutely adore everything about Tudor England and have heard only positive things about Longshore's works.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb
My university is reading this book as part of a common-reading program developed to encourage reading and widespread community engagement. I volunteered to be a discussion facilitator and so received a copy of this book. It's not my normal reading fare, but it actually was fairly interesting and certainly about important current events. Malala is so inspirational.

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September 5, 2014

Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Translated by Sam Garrett)
Published: 2013, Hogarth (Originally 2009)
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction
Source: Library

Happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn't have to be validated. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way.

Brothers Paul and Serge have arranged to dine at a fancy restaurant in Amsterdam with their wives Claire and Babette. It’s the sort of restaurant that Paul hates, ridiculously overpriced and full of waitstaff fawning over his brother. But this dinner is more about the conversation than the food, and the conversation is one that neither family can afford to ignore any longer.

The events of The Dinner take place over the course of the single dinner had among the brothers and their wives. But perhaps that’s not entirely correct. The present-day action takes place over the course of a few hours, but much of the novel’s present day gives way to flashbacks that help better explain the characters and their motivations for the dinner meeting. It’s an unconventional authorial choice that Koch made, but for the most part it works well.

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September 2, 2014

ARC August: A Recap

Well, August is over. And, strangely, I'm actually excited for the fall. Perhaps part of the reason is that I'm no longer feeling quite as daunted by the books I need to read in September.

ARCs read:  
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (to be published September 23, 2014)
Firebug by Lish McBride (to be published September 23, 2014)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (to be published September 30, 2014)

My goal was to read three ARCs, and so I'm satisfied with the progress I made. I also participated in one #ARCAugust chat, which was a lot of fun. Hopefully I'll be able to participate in more next year!

I read 
a total of eight books this past month, so ideally I should have been able to alternate between ARCs and finished copies for a total of four ARCs read. But oh well. I have one book left that is being published in September (Egg and Spoon by Gregory Macguire) and one in early October (The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters), but reading two review books in September is more than do-able. Much better than still having five ARCs still to read.

Thanks again to Octavia of Read.Sleep.Repeat for hosting! This challenge was definitely a great way to help ease my anxiety over review books!

I hope everyone else who participated is satisfied with their results. Let me know how you fared this past month!
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