Me reading The Selection on the beach
On September 26th, I packed up my bags, crammed some books in my satchel, loaded up my iPad with eBooks, and hopped a plane to St. Martin with my fiancee for a few days. I put an out of office email up at Quirk, scheduled an online discussion with my college students from my hotel, and tried my best to actually take a real vacation and relax.
I’m one of those weird people that have a hard time relaxing or taking breaks. I always want to be working on my books, dreaming up marketing campaigns for other people’s books, or fussing over blog posts.
So for this vacation, I left my laptop at home. Which seriously hurt, you guys. Like… ugh.
But, what I did bring were books. A lot of them. Some I picked up on my way (our first layover was in Miami, and I couldn’t help myself at the airport bookshop), some I crammed in my messenger bag (yay paperbacks!), and others I downloaded long before I left.
And while I told myself I’d be off the grid for the trip… I ended up tweeting a lot about the books I was reading. There was WiFi in my hotel, and it stretched out to the beach. Sorry, I’m not sorry. No one was surprised.
Anyhow, I loved all of these books, and you should check them out. Here’s what was in my beach bag while I was on vacation.
And pst. Suzanne. Thanks for handling Quirk’s social stuff while I was gone. You rock.
SEPTEMBER GIRLS (Bennett Madison): When it comes to reviews, I try to use my best judgement. This particular book had some incredibly polarizing reviews. Some really negative ones by bloggers I adore, and some really positive ones by authors and bloggers I also adore. It was really hard to find any kind of middle ground with this one. So I decided to see for myself. And wow. I’m so glad I did.
Madison’s YA fantasy novel takes readers to a mysterious beach, full of girls that are… well, something isn’t quite right. And our protagonist, a young kid named Sam, finds himself swept up in a summer of beauty, magic, love, and loss. It’s a book I genuinely wish I would have read long ago. The first book I finished while on my vacation, it’s a novel I’ll be recommending to everyone I meet. And I can’t wait to read more of Madison’s books! There are a lot of them.
UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY & BLIGHTBORN (Chuck Wendig): I’ve always enjoyed Chuck’s hilarious ramblings on his incredible blog Terrible Minds, and I’ve had his book Blackbirds sitting on my Kindle for quite some time, but I’d yet to dive into any of his novels. I have no good reason for this what-so-ever, especially considering I read his blog actively. However, when my friend Erin Morgenstern saw him tweeting about a Quirk title I was working on, she connected us. And with my vacation coming up, I decided it was time to dive in.
I read his first two young adult novels in two days.
These books! I couldn’t put them down. If you’re a fan of Chuck’s blog, that voice, that creative, hilarious, rapid fire voice… it fills these pages. These are the first two books in his Heartland trilogy (GIVE ME THE THIRD BOOK NOW, CHUCK), and these novels take you to a world that’s ruled by the Empyrean, powerful, wealthy people living in floating cities while the remaining Earth-dwelling citizens scavenge and basically slave for them. The world is covered in the Empyrean’s genetically engineered corn, which fuels and powers their super cities, while damaging the average folk and the planet.
There’s just so much to like here, and the sequel, Blightborn… man. It’s so rare that I stumble upon a sequel that is better than the first book, and this one… it’s just unbelievable. The world building! The action packed plot! AHH. Just everything. Get these. Post haste.
THE MAZE RUNNER (James Dashner): Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I know I’m like, the last person ever to read this book. I know I’m like, trying to be a Young Adult author. I should read the most popular books in the genre, right? Right.
Nena and I had one day on vacation where we just sat on the beach from morning until sundown. It was pretty glorious. And on that day, I read this entire book. It should come as no surprise that I loved it, and I’m really curious about the movie now. At least now I can see it guilt-free, having read the book.
And speaking of popular YA books, I also picked up the first two books in THE SELECTION series. I’ve been having a hard time writing romantic / swoony scenes in what I’m hoping is INKED’s sequel, so this was research. And I’m enjoying them.
STUMPTOWN: VOLUME 1 and STUMPTOWN: VOLUME 2 (Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth): I was first introduced to Greg Rucka after picking up copies of White Out on the cheap (I wrote a bit about it over on BookRiot), and just fell in love with his writing. Super strong female characters, thrilling plot lines, and always, always gorgeous art to accompany all of it.
I picked up Volumes 1 and 2 of Stumptown thanks to a sweet Comixology deal, and was not disappointed.
Taking place in Portland, Stumptown introduces you to private investigator Dex Parios. She’s an unflinching, tough, and occasionally awkward woman, who has a knack for getting caught up in cases way bigger than she anticipates. Both books can be read in an afternoon, and are a lot of fun. Highly recommend them.
QUEEN & COUNTRY: VOLUME 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Greg Rucka): Yes, yes. I read more Rucka while on the trip. I read FIVE VOLUMES of Queen & Country. What can I say, there was a Greg Rucka sale a few weeks ago on Comixology and I just stocked up. And I still have TWO MORE volumes to get through! But I don’t mind. These books are an absolute joy to read.
Illustrated in beautiful black and white, Queen & Country is Rucka’s amazing espionage series, published by the Oni Press crew (same folks who put out White Out and Stumptown). You meet a lot of awesome characters, and the cast is large and well developed, but the story really centers on Tara Chace, an agent with SIS.
There’s a lot to like here, with Rucka delivering a lot of action and plenty of heated, intense office-drama within the SIS organization. In fact, I think the scenes inside the headquarters are just as exciting as the ones with people running and shooting.