Sarah H’s Summer Reads!

unnamedSarah H. is a badass bookseller who takes Texas book slingin’ to a whole new level. She currently helms BookPeople’s non-stop, party-all-the-time Internet Orders department. When not at work, she can be found researching Austin’s deep, dark literary underbelly. Look for her in the Sci Fi section and just about anywhere high caliber, boundary-defying, genre-bending lit resides. 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

It seems like everyone is fawning all over this book right now. And with good reason. It’s wonderful! It’s both fairytale and folklore, with a darkness about it that doesn’t ever quite lift.

The forest around Agnieszka’s town is anything but a normal forest. A mystery has resided there for as long as anyone can remember. But a wizard, whom they call The Dragon, keeps the darkness of the forest at bay as best he can. He is the lord of the valley towns and as such he is paid tribute – food and goods, and every ten years, a village girl must go live as his servant. After ten years the girl returns much changed, more educated and worldly than the common villagers, and she often leaves the valley to pursue her fortune in the wealthier parts of the realm. It’s all very strange, but it keeps the darkness away. Agnieszka becomes such a girl, but it turns out she has hidden talents that could change everything. The secret of the forest is not something to be taken lightly, however, and it’s not something she can do alone.

Since I already finished this book and it’s not quite summer yet, I may be cheating a little, but I feel the need to spread the word about how amazing this book is!

Boo by Neil Smith

I’m about a quarter of the way through this one and it’s quite the odd little book. A thirteen year old boy, whom everyone calls Boo on account of his ghostly white pallor, dies suddenly and goes to thirteen-year-old heaven. Turns out there is a heaven for everyone, based on your age when you die. Maybe its not heaven, really, maybe its purgatory, but thirteen-year-olds aren’t super concerned with nuance of that kind. In life, Boo was a very awkward and proper child, not much like his peers at all (my suspicion is he had Aspergers, but so far that has not been stated in the book). And he loved science. All these traits carry over in death, but unfortunately thirteen-year-old heaven doesn’t have much that interests Boo. No libraries, no science labs. Then one day one of his classmates appears. He died too, and it turns out he and Boo were murdered by the same person, in a school shooting. His friend was in a coma for a few days before he finally died, but he remembers his sister talking to him, and he thinks she said the shooter died too. And now, Boo and his friend want to find out if their killer is also in thirteen-year-old heaven.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s pretty good so far. Definitely an unusual premise, and the author has done a great job of giving each character a unique voice. And at 300 pages it should be a quick read.

Killing Pretty (Sandman Slim #7) by Richard Kadrey

It’s no secret I’ve been a massive fan of the Sandman Slim series almost since it came out in late 2009. We are now seven books in and I’m not tired of it. Not even a little! Kadrey has managed to create a whole cast of characters I really care about. He’s taken me from the grimy streets of L.A. to hell, to purgatory, to Tartarus and back again, with a little bit of inter dimensional travel thrown in. I’ve met hosts of angels (some nicer than others), a series of demons (some worse than others), Lucifer himself (a rather cordial fellow when he wants to be), and several incarnations of God (a split personality if ever there was one). This time around, only a week after saving the world from the really old gods (book #6), we meet Death, as in The Angel Of… And he’s not in very good shape. Someone is trying to usurp his job, and it’s not going to end well for anyone (well, maybe a few people).

Killing Pretty gets release on July 28th. Pre-order HERE!

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

Yorick Brown, an unemployed and unmotivated slacker discovers he and his pet monkey are the only males left in the world after a plague instantly kills every mammal with a Y chromosome. Part mystery, part action adventure, part speculative fiction, part road-trip, this series follows Yorick, a secret agent, and a geneticist across the country as they try to find out just what the hell is going on. If they can find out how Yorick survived, they might just be able to save the entire species.

This series has won three Eisner Awards, and is one of the best selling graphic novel series’ in the last decade. I’m about halfway through and I love it! The characters are diverse, the story is fantastic, it’s funny, its social commentary is on point, and so far there is nothing superfluous in the story. Did I mention the artwork (by Pia Guerra) is also great?

This is the first of Brian K. Vaughan I have read and I will definitely be looking for more (Saga will be next).

Get In Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link

I’ve only read a few stories so far in this collection and I am already blown away by how different they are from each other. Each story is a new and complex world with it’s own rules and mythologies. They are imaginative, emotionally impactful, and mysterious in the way they each unfold. They do not seem to follow any kind of formula, or really have much in common with each other at all, except for Link’s distinctive voice. Michael Chabon has called Link “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.”  For me, darkly playful is exactly right. I suspect Chabon is far more well read than I am, so I’ll trust him on this.

Short story collections are great for summer reads. Well, they’re good year ’round really, but in the summer it’s nice to be able to ingest an entire story in an hour sitting out by the springs… Which I will definitely be doing.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Another short story collection, and this by my current favorite working author, Neil Gaiman. Trigger Warning was released earlier this year, but I have yet to read further than the preface because I want no distractions, no other stuff happening in my mind when I read it. So I’ll finish Boo  and Y: The Last Man, and then I’ll curl up in a quiet place with just my book, some tea, and maybe my cat, and my husband won’t see me for two days.

Here are someone else’s words about Trigger Warning:

In this all-new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction—stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013—as well as a tale written exclusively for this volume.

3 thoughts on “Sarah H’s Summer Reads!

  1. I read the Kelly Link story collection and found it not quite as captivating as her earlier stuff. To me she seemed to rely a bit more on tweaking the reader too much and not enough on using her engaging voice and quirky humor.

  2. This is the first Kelly Link I have read, so I’ll have to take a look at her earlier stuff now for comparison.

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