October & November in (Reading) Review

Well, the month got away from me, as usual. Which is to say, here's the review of the best books I read in October and November.

The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party, by Shannon Hale. A worthy follow-up to the first Princess in Black book, this installment covers Princess Magnolia's attempt to throw a perfect princess-worthy birthday party...while maintaining her secret identity at the same time. The illustrations (by LeUyen Pham) are lovely, the story delightful.

The Fair Fight, by Anna Freeman. I prefer the UK cover of this book, as the whole concept of female pugilists in the 1700s is killer. Sadly, the US cover makes this book out to be just another historical fiction novel. Which is too bad, since this book is so great! Female boxing, lots of double-crossing, and excellent women. I could have used a lot less of the whiny men and a lot more of the no-nonsense suck-it-up women, but this book was still great. And blurbed (quite rightly) by Sarah Waters!

The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems. Seriously, how many books can Mo Willems put out at the same time? Clearly not enough. This is a heart-warming Parisian adventure about a rascally street cat (Flea) who comes across a fearful house dog (Diva) and decides to introduce her to the wonders of the city outside her front yard. Adorable illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi.

Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev. A picture book all about accepting those who are different from you. A young boy is turned away from the local Pet Club because his pet (an elephant!) is too strange (read: cool) for them. So instead he makes new friends and forms his own! This is the cutest picture book I've read in quite a while. Illustrations by Taeeun Yoo.

Drift and Dagger, by Kendall Kulper. A prequel companion to Salt and Storm, this book centers on Mal, an orphan distrusted by the magical world because of his strange "Blank" nature - he cannot be affected by magical artifacts or powers. Having been outed and driven away from his home by Essie Roe, the daughter of the witch of Prince Island, he makes revenge his quest. You don't have to have read Salt and Storm to enjoy this book, which is dark and salt-soaked and shivery.

Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride, by Alyssa Harad. Credit to discovering this book goes to Celeste Ng, who tweeted about it repeatedly until I picked it up. This meandering memoir is all about discovering perfume, and it made me (a perfume-neutral person) unexpectedly interested in checking out this world. The writing is sensual, atmospheric, and will make you want to smell things all day.

Our Lady of the Ice, by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I've enjoyed Clarke's earlier YA work, and was really taken by the cover of this book. Cyborgs, noir detectives, Antarctic colonies? Count me in. This book is really more of a detective story with science fiction flair, and I loved the world the whole way through. Crossing my fingers that there's a sequel in the works!

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Curtis Sittenfeld. The latest installment of the Austen Project, this book releases in April next year, and it's just wonderful. Light, airy, and a lot of fun. I imagined Emma Thompson narrating as I read (though this might have had to do with having recently watched Stranger than Fiction), and it worked out quite well.


Books read (October): 16
Books read (November): 19