Disclaimer: These are my favorite reads from 2012, although some were published in earlier.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I love Aimee Bender's writing. Reading it is like taking a master class in what to do. How to make something a little bit crazy seem perfect and normal and heartbreaking. Take a peek:
"I could absolutely taste the chocolate, but in drifts and traces, in an unfurling, or an opening, it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking..."
The Scorpio Races The killer plot aside, this book is an excellent example of showing, not telling. There is action and there is a fast pace, helped along by the present-tense, in-your-face writing. And there is an uncompromising heroine. Check out Maggie Stiefvater's Printz writing:
"Skata and Corr gallop, shoulder to shoulder, every step taking us farther into the surf. I taste saltwater; my saddle is slimy with it. Every muscle in Corr's body shivers and shimmers. Glancing at Mutt, I see that he's having a hard time keeping his seat.
Too late I see his knife."
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn is so great, because she can write like nobody's business. She has all the angles. The plot is awesome and layered, complicated, and--dare I say -- difficult. The characters seem real, with expert characterization. They are believable, normal as your nextdoor neighbor, and freaking scary. You want to tell yourself, No, this couldn't really happen, but Flynn's writing begs to differ. What an awesome read. I have yet to read Dark Places or Sharp Objects. It's awesome to know they are out there, waiting for me to read them, like a Hershey bar, frozen in the freezer to eat during the next DVR'ed episode of BIg Bang.
The Diviners Libba Bray's books always slay me. She is my unparalleled YA literary crush, and I love her writing for this basic reason: She writes with attitude. Her characters have attitude, but they haven't lost hope. THey have humor, but they aren't void of real-world personality. Plus, this book is right up my alley -- speculative, horror, sci-fi, flappers. It's like Stephen King decided to write YA. You gotta read this book! You will not be sorry!
11/22/63 Speaking of Mr. King, the man, the myth, the legend, I think this is his BEST ever, and that's saying something. TIme travelling, the everyman hero, and lots of choices between good and evil and all the many slivers of possibilities in between. THis was one of those books I just didn't want to finish. Everything King writes is like music to me, the word choices, the turns of phrases, the rhythm, it sings to me. I love his writing. I would read it even if it didn't come paired with a time-twisted version of one of the most impactful events of recent generations. King is at his best asking the questions we all kind of think around, not daring ourselves to ask ... What if JFK could be saved? King just has the guts to ask these questions and then answer them. Honestly.
From FLUTTER, a romantical sneak peek from about halfway through the book!
We stood looking at each other for a long time in the moonlight, in front of the entrance to the path to the Dala Cabin. The evergreens were sagging and weighted down, thick with heavy, wet snow from the earlier flurries. The moonlight glistened and glowed off the frozen surface of the evergreens. It twinkled, really.
Ash reached out slowly and touched my cheek only for an instant, with the pad of his thumb. Then he moved his hand away from me, abruptly.
“Emery,” he said.
I took a sharp intake of air. Business, I tried to tell myself.
“I can’t…” He shook his head. “I didn’t want to turn you down for dinner… the other day … I just can’t... ”
I nodded, wanting him to go on, wanting him to touch me again. His touch was electric on my skin.
“I’m not…” He took a step back from me. “I’m not someone you can know, not …”
“I understand,” I said, although I didn’t.
He took another step back from me. I moved forward without thinking, feeling pulled toward him, closing the space between us. His eyes met mine, and the breath caught in my throat, every molecule in my body feeling pulled toward him, leaning me into his space, into his energy. It was a heady feeling, disorienting.
Although I barely knew him, I didn’t know if I could pretend even one more second that this thing between us -- whatever it was – wasn’t wonderful.
“I have to go,” he said, only leaning in closer to me, our faces only inches apart. I could feel the warmth from his breath.
“No,” I whispered. “Where are you going?”
He shook his head then, looked down, saying something under his breath. I couldn’t be too sure what it was, but it sounded like, “Penance.” But suddenly watching him, with his eyes cast down, his lashes shadowing his cheekbones, the way he held himself both leaning toward me, but also restraining himself, filling the space between us with his heady, soapy scent, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
So when he looked up, I closed the small distance between us. I stood on my tiptoes, and I pressed my lips to his. In my hurry, I missed a little bit, landing my lips more on the corner of his mouth, and for a second he didn’t react, but then he turned his face toward me, pressing his lips against mine, a full kiss, a real kiss. And the fireworks exploded deep inside me, sending ribbons of heat from my center out to my limbs, a gorgeous, surprising feeling, like a warm breeze beneath my skin.
Both of his hands went to my face, gently. And just when I thought he was going to pull away, he leaned into the kiss again, longer, deeper. The heat inside me surging again. I smiled behind the kiss, without meaning to, and I brushed my fingertips on his stubble, loving its feel against my fingertips.
He pulled away and we just looked at each other. Should I apologize? Make a joke? Do it again?
“Emery,” he said, my name turning to music in his voice, the quiet deepness of it. He closed his eyes for a moment, shook his head, smiled. I wanted to kiss him again. Right on that crooked eyetooth. But when he opened his eyes, his smile disappeared, and he was himself again. Measured. Cool. “Emery,” he said again. A goodbye.
You can email me -- use the form on this website or just send to gina (at) ginalinko.com, and I will send you a personalized, signed bookplate to include with the fabulous gift of FLUTTER! Just tell me who to make it out to. And give me your address. It is a perfect gift for any tween/teen readers, or those who are teens at heart.
You can order it on Amazon here. Barnes and Noble here. Or you can go indie and order from our awesome Anderson's here.
Saturday, December 8th from 11:00am - 1:00pm at Rowe Public Library in Sheridan, IL
"Flutter" is the new teen romance science-fiction thriller by Gina Linko, published by Random House. Books will be available for purchase and signing. There will also be prizes to give away and yummy treats.
Come talk with the writers' group. We are going to discuss Flutter, and also the path to pubication! Hope to see you there.
Please register of this event by calling the library at 815-496-2031.