First of all, I have to say, I've gone into November with gratitude coming out my ears. We've been warm and dry (at least inside) in our Buffalo apartment, while the building we moved out of two and a half months ago lost power Monday night and didn't regain it until early yesterday. My colleagues had to find their way to school on Friday in the midst of flooding, destruction, gas shortages, and transit problems. My thoughts continue to be with my friends, family, and students who are still dealing with the effects of the storm.
Meanwhile, here I've been fortunate enough to have the time, space, and electricity to start work on my NaNo project. I'm really starting to love my characters, and I'm finding new and unexpected things about them even in the first 5000 words that I got through in the first two days. My outline is helpful but I find that I'm throwing all but the MOST important of plot points out the window as my characters inform me that I was mistaken, that's not actually how it went down. I've thrown caution to the wind and given a second character some time as narrator, which I may regret later, but for now it seemed like what needed to happen. Looking forward to getting back to writing tomorrow.
AND, to cap all that off, I read two really great books this week! I think I've discovered my biggest lit-crush of all time. LOVE.
What I Read This Week:
Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the kind of book that, at 549 pages, I wish was even longer. It felt like the most exciting historical fiction ever--as well it should, since it heavily features real historical figures. Assassin-nun Ismae is assigned to embed herself in the household of Gavriel Duval, half-brother to the Duchess of Brittany, and try to uncover the party or parties responsible for all the treason going on.
Ok, first of all? As an adult who reads YA, it was REALLY fun to have a YA where the hot guy is also, like, an adult. It's great to read YA guys who I wish my teen self could have dated, but Duval is at least 24 (he was 12 or 13 when his 12-year-old half-sister was born. By the end of the book, she's 13. So Duval is actually really close to my age. Which makes it totally normal that I have a HUGE crush on him.) And Ismae is old enough that that's not sketchy (I mean, the whole book was about who the Duchess was going to marry--yes, the 12-year-old--and while she was sketched out by a 50-year-old, there was a guy she was pretty ok with marrying) so YAY for that. I could see this being a great crossover book, actually, because Ismae really is an adult in the context of her world (plus: awesome assassin skills, historical plots, treachery, poison, hot guys.)
Sorry, let me recover from Duval and try to say something coherent about this book. While it did have a large cast, they were so well-drawn I had no trouble keeping them straight. The young Duchess and her sickly but spunky little sister were especially guilty of scene-stealing. I was drawn into the world of the convent, and my disappointment at leaving it disappeared really fast when I got to see life at court. I am a little sad that the next book will focus on Sybella (not because she's not awesome, but because I love Ismae so much) but I'm sure I will have a similar experience there. Don't be freaked out by the size or the historical setting or anything else--this is one of the most readable, exciting, addictive books I've read this year. If you haven't read it yet, pick it up. Soon.
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book in one day. It's that kind of book. It's the most fun, y'all. Audrey herself is fantastic--exactly the kind of sarcastic and fun and joyful that I've been shooting for since high school. Someone who blasts her music and dances around to it without being a manic pixie dream girl. She does that stuff because she wants to, not because boys will fall down and die on her doorstep. In fact, she really wishes fewer people would show up on her doorstep. You see, she broke up with her boyfriend--and he turned that breakup into a CRAZY HUGE hit song. We're talking "Call Me Maybe" plus "Gangnam Style" plus "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" levels of popularity. (Oh man, you all know Taylor's my GIRL--or you should know that about me, because I am pretty serious about it--but this book made me a little teeny bit sympathetic to her awful exes. Except John Mayer. Shut your yap, John Mayer.)
So poor Audrey is stuck fending off paparazzi when all she wants to do is go to concerts with her best friend Victoria (awesome, but not perfect--and really? If you realized your best friend could suddenly score free lipgloss and backstage passes and a CONVERTIBLE just by dropping her own name? You'd be tempted too), Victoria's amazeballs boyfriend Jonah, and her new guy James (who is in strong contention for Best Teen Love Interest EVER EVER EVER.)
This book is such a blast--for some reason, even after recs from a BUNCH of cool people, I wasn't sure I would get that into it (because I hate fun? I don't know. Don't ask. It was one of those weird gut things.) But this book is such a party. The next time you feel like spending a few hours laughing, reading aloud funny bits, and falling in love, pick up Audrey, Wait!
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Waiting in the Wings:
Christina Tosi's second-best dessert, or Taylor Swift's second-cutest song.