September in (Reading) Review

So it's been...ridiculously busy. After six months in Australia and a month in my hometown, the Australian and I finally landed back in Boston, where we'll be for the next foreseeable while. We touched down after a red-eye flight on the morning of September 1st, and I immediately started a six-day work streak, and things pretty much went from there. We took a few days off to drive to Michigan for the very last Booktopia (more on this later), but other than that, it's been nonstop EVERYTHING settling back into our apartment, working my butt off, and generally running around like a headless chicken. Things look like they'll continue this way for a while, but in the meantime, here's all the good stuff I read in September! (Hold onto your hats, folks. This one's a long one.)

If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo. Amanda Hardy moves to a small town in Tennessee to live with her father after several difficult experiences related to her transition - because Amanda used to be known as Andrew. Living with her father gives Amanda the freedom to start fresh, but still she fears that her secret might be revealed. This is a hopeful, wonderful breath of excellent representation in a genre that sorely needs it. Reading this book made me feel happy inside. Look for this one in bookstores in 2016!

The Mystery of Hollow Places, by Rebecca Podos. I already knew that my agent had an amazing editorial eye, but I was thrilled to find that she's an excellent writer as well. (Phew!) Imogene Scott never had a mother, not really. All she has is the fairy-tale-like story of how her parents met. But when Imogene's father (a famous mystery novelist) disappears in the middle of the night, Imogene believes that he's gone in search of her mother - and that the only way to find them both is to solve the mystery of her mother's abandonment. I loved Imogene's prickly character, the complicated familial relationships that Imogene uncovers, and every word of this lovely prose. This title will be released in January 2016!

Baba Yaga's Assistant, by Marika McCoola. If you're a naughty girl, Baba Yaga will come and get you! But what if you want to be snatched? Upset with her father's new relationship, Masha decides that the only thing to do is brave Baba Yaga's house and earn her place as Baga Yaga's new assistant. The story is compelling and entirely relatable, and Emily Carroll's illustrations are excellent. Moments of humor as well as danger abound.


Boats for Papa, by Jessixa Bagley. It's Josh Funk's fault that I picked this title up. He tweeted that this book made him tear up in the aisle at Porter Square Books, and of course I had to check it out for myself. And yes, I got the sniffles. This is the story of a young beaver who makes boats for his missing papa and his wonderfully supportive mother. Read with tissues!

Updraft, by Fran Wilde. The world-building in this novel is A++. That's almost everything I have to say about that. If you like your fantasy mind-bendy and weird, pick this up. I was SO curious about everything in this world when I'd finished this book.

The Great American Dust Bowl, by Don Brown. I'm serving as a Pitch Wars mentor this year, and my mentee's novel involves the American Dust Bowl. Well, what I knew about the Dust Bowl could be summarized as "there was a lot of dust? maybe?" so I immediately got down to research. First up, this excellent graphic novel. The illustrations are evocative and the text informative as well as incredibly interesting. It's a great introduction to an often-oversimplified environmental disaster.

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson. I've been paying attention to Noelle Stevenson online for a Very Long Time, but I only got around to picking up her first graphic novel this month. This story is quirky, entertaining, complex, and wonderfully NOT happily-ever-after. The ending was perfect.

Primates, by Jim Ottaviani. I have to admit, my knowledge base has some pretty woeful gaps. While I knew the basics of Jane Goodall's story, I didn't know much about Dian Fossey. And I'd never even heard of Birute Galdikas. Jim Ottaviani's graphic novel covers the story of these three fascinating women, from the beginning of their involvement with animal research to the present(ish). The illustrations are lovely and the story enough to make a curious reader even more interested in the subject matter.

This One Summer, by Jillian Tamaki. This graphic novel (sensing a theme yet?) has the most perfect coming-of-age girl voice. Two girls summer at the beach with their families...until one summer, everything changes. Heavily steeped in themes of womanhood, budding sexuality, and what it means to grow up in a world that isn't often kind to girls.

Waiting, by Kevin Henkes. This quiet picture book is simply lovely. Henkes's illustrations are darling, the story equally so. It's difficult to explain what exactly is so special about this book without sounding silly (a few toys sit on a window sill - waiting. for what? who knows?). But it's just classic Henkes. And again, so wonderful.

Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse. I read this book as a child (possibly because it was assigned in a class, though I don't quite remember). This is a title that I definitely responded to differently as an adult than as a child reader. This time around I was reading for research on the Dust Bowl, and every detail in this book is visceral and affecting. Harsh, harrowing.


Salt & Storm, by Kendall Kulper. I read this book in one sitting, then promptly turned around to handsell it to everyone I could rope into the bookstore. Salt & Storm tells the story of Avery Roe, whose grandmother is the witch of the (fictional) Prince Island during the decline of the whaling trade in Massachusetts (and elsewhere). She knows she's destined to succeed her grandmother as the Roe witch, but when she dreams of her own death, she begins to worry - for everyone knows that the Roe witch cannot die. This book is rich and atmospheric and almost exactly like a full moon on a windy autumn night.

The Midas Flesh, by Ryan North. Split into two volumes, this science fiction graphic novel posits the possibility that King Midas's body could be used as a weapon of mass destruction, turning not only everything he touched to gold, but everything that everything else touched. Dinosaurs in space. An evil empire. And a happen-stance king's wish - that turns entire planets to gold. Weird, but in an awesome way.

Ash & Bramble, by Sarah Prineas. I had a bit of a difficult time getting into the story of Ash & Bramble, but once I did, I was completely hooked. Seriously an innovative, new reimagining of the fairy tale Cinderella (among others). Read if you love cracked up fairy tales (in an odd, dark, and wonderful way).

Books read: 29.