What I Read This Week: Week 1

I'm trying a Thing. A THING, FRIENDS. A thing where I read something new every day. A new book or comic or something NEW. Something that I didn't write, or isn't CP work. I'm doing this because I am realizing that when I'm neck deep in writing and I'm treading water (gladly, because I do love writing), I often neglect reading.

And when I do reach for a book, it'll be a book I've read many times before. Something comfortable and familiar. Something that doesn't make me work hard.Sure, I'm a fan of Katsa and Po enough that I don't believe there's a limit on how many times I can reread Graceling, but reading should be a little work. At least, for me. I want it to stretch my brains and blow my mind and make me feel things. I want reading to wake me up the way fear wakes Tris up in Divergent. 

So in April, I'm trying to read something new every single day.

April 1st: I read SEKRET by Lindsay Smith (you can find it here on Goodreads, or here on Indiebound). Psychic Soviet spies! I've been anticipating this book since the fall when someone was like "Katie, this will be RELEVANT TO YOUR INTERESTS." And it was everything I could have hoped for. SEKRET is the story of Yulia, a girl of Georgian descent growing up in the Soviet Union who sometimes can see things she shouldn't. Her gift is amplified by touch. When she's caught and forced to work for the Soviet government to try and protect the Soviet space programs, Yulia's forced to make decisions about the safety of her family (used as "incentive" for her good behavior") and the use of her powers to protect innocents and uncover the truth of the psychic program and who is trying to get a hold of Soviet space program secrets (and her). SEKRET is a fantastic book mixing just a touch of the supernatural (okay, unless you're a believer in the psychic arts, in which case this is totally realistic) and a portion of history often overlooked in all of fiction much less American fiction examining the Soviet side of things. Also? Contains some of the best YA kissing scenes I've ever read. Seriously. Lindsay Smith should probably write us a primer on how to write kickass kissing scenes.

April 2nd: I read STAY WHERE YOU ARE & THEN LEAVE by John Boyne. I received this book as an ARC at ALA Midwinter this year and was hesitant at first. MG literature is not usually my cup of tea--I tend to love it or hate it with very little gradient between. However, my schedule and this reading challenge means sometimes I'm reaching for MG lit because it's a fast read. This was a fast and BRILLIANT read. I absolutely loved it. Boyne wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas so he's no newcomer to the area of historical fiction for kids. This book is about a boy whose father goes to fight in the Great War, which we Americans can call the Great and Forgotten War because it's so often overlooked in our collective conscience. But we forget that World War I was devastating to Europe. An entire generation of young men was killed, maimed, and suffered from what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chemical weapons and broken peace treaties and nasty psychological warfare were hallmarks of this war. In the book, Alfie's father goes to war, and then stops writing. Alfie discovers his father is being treated for 'shellshock' at a nearby hospital and plots to get him home. What this book really is is looking at the life of a child during a war that became the entire world. He doesn't go to school, he earns extra money shining shoes, his best friend is taking away because her family originates from the Austro-Hungarian empire, adults talk down to him, misunderstanding Alfie's total comprehension of the war and its effects. It's startlingly beautiful, simple, and honest. Alfie's a hero who is easy to stand next to. He makes you braver as a reader with his bravery on the page. Really fantastic read.

April 3rd: I tried to read a new YA fantasy novel that just came out. I did. I read the first 100 pages. And then I read the last 50 pages. My predictions were right and my annoyances were confirmed. Not readable. I put it down and read Pretty Deadly #2 and Pretty Deadly #3. If you haven't read these comics, it's like the myths and folklore and fantasy that might play out if one of the outerworlds in Firefly had fantasical creatures. It's like a Western with fantasy, built on myth, and it's utterly gorgeous. Really recommend.

April 4th: I read Saga, Volume 2. Now. Look, Saga is fucking brilliant. Everyone, even if you don't like comics normally, should be reading it. It's just perfect, oaky? It's everything you want. It's science fiction and fantasy. It's about war and conflict and peace. It's a Romeo and Juliet story of starcrossed lovers from people who hate each other. It's a little reminiscent, for you YA readers, of Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE series. It's visually stunning. The art is just terrific. The voice is fantastic. It's told by the son of two of the main characters so he inserts himself at points and he's funny and dry with a terribly dark sense of humor. He's a good narrator. The dialogue feels very contemporary and accessible. There are monsters and creatures so inventive and beautiful that I honestly don't even know how the writer and artist come up with them. The plot twists! Fantastic. SO MUCH FUN.

April 5th: Tonight, I'm finishing REFLECTED, the third book in Rhiannon Held's Silver series. Superbly done werewolf series where pack politics feel immediate, real, and dangerous. Great series, highly recommend, even if "paranormal" isn't normally your thing (I usually say I don't do fangs, but this series is worth the read!)