An Early Birthday Present for Moi!

This fall is going to be an exciting time for bookish little me. When I think about it, I get so worked up that I have a hard time typing (or perhaps it’s the sugary chai latte I just drank).

Check it out. Four *highly anticipated* books are being released in September/October. It’s like an early birthday present to me from four talented authors! How did they know what I wanted?!

Two of the books are follow-ups to YA books that I adored, one is the SEVENTH book in a series that I find positively consuming, and the fourth is a graphic novel by a guy I’d never heard of before I read about the book. In order of release date…

Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsFirst of all, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins came out on September 1st. Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven’t already read the first book, called The Hunger Games, read it now. But only if you have about twenty-four hours to kill. That’s about how long it will take you, and YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE.

The Hunger Games almost surpasses description – it’s that exciting to read – except that invariably when I describe it to people they tell me it reminds them of various other plots. It’s a science fiction story set in a future in which America is divided into twelve districts, all controlled by a greedy, oppressive government known as the Capital. Every year, the Capital stages an event called the Hunger Games – two teenagers from each district enter an arena filled with video cameras, and stay there until only one person remains. The main character Katniss is a survivor if there ever was one, and she knows she can win. But, as the game goes on, she wonders if there might be a way to survive without playing by the Capital’s rules. I was breathless at the conclusion of this book, and Catching Fire picks up right where the first left off. The only reason I haven’t read it yet is because I know it’s going to be over so fast and then I’ll have to bide my time before the third and final installment!

Stitches by David SmallAnother early September release, Stitches came out on the 5th. Stitches is a memoir by David Small, told in a black and white graphic novel. I first read about the book on the wonderful book blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The review reminded me of Craig Thompson’s Blankets. I don’t know if they truly are similar, but both books are memoirs about growing up, written for adults rather than children, despite the illustrated format. And both books chronicle the birth, development, and perseverance of the artist. I’m fascinated by the fact that, for some people, making art has nothing to do with their parents signing them up for a local sketching class. Making art can be as necessary to survival as breathing. Both Small and Thompson use their art to survive – and transcend – difficult circumstances.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
A few years ago, my friend Tara said, “There’s this book called Outlander that you’ve just got to read.” “What’s it about?” I reasonably asked her. When she told me that the main character is a woman who mysteriously travels in time through a ring of ancient stones and lands in 18th Century Scotland, I politely declined. When she repeatedly failed to convince me, Tara simply put a copy of the book in my hands and commanded me to read. Well, after the first fifty pages, I couldn’t have put it down if I wanted to. I would try to put it down at the end of the night, but then lay in bed thinking, “What are Jamie and Claire doing now??” As if they were somehow continuing with their lives while I wasted time sleeping. This book was the first in a long while that I stayed up all night to read (but it’s not the last). I took me two days to devour all 600+ pages. Each subsequent book is even longer, and just as addictive. It’s been about a year and a half since I finished the sixth book, and I was simultaneously thrilled and dismayed when I saw that Diana Gabaldon planned to publish a seventh, called An Echo in the Bone. I couldn’t believe what a long time I had to wait! But, September 22nd is almost here! If you haven’t read Outlander yet, I’m jealous that you have it all ahead of you.

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Kristin Cashore’s first book Graceling received about as much praise and recognition as a first novel can. My wonderful sister and reading partner Parry gave it me last Christmas, and promised that I would not be disappointed. I wasn’t. It’s a fantasy adventure book set in a world in which rare people are born with special abilities called “graces.” Those with graces, especially very useful ones, are forced into service for their kings. The main character Katsa is such a person; her fighting and killing grace makes her an invaluable weapon in her king’s arsenal. Katsa manages to be a warrior while also being a smart and sympathetic character. Cashore manages to write an adventure story while also dealing with issues of friendship and love, asking whether one gives up our self-reliance in order to have them, and whether it is worth it. Fire is not a sequel to Graceling. It takes place in the same fantasy world, but before Katsa’s story. It is not a true prequel either, though – from what I understand, Katsa and Po appear in the book but are not the main characters. I can’t wait to lose myself in Cashore’s exciting and fantastical world again. (But have to wait until October 5th!)

Kristin Cashore also has a wonderful blog – a mix of life, musings, and the writing business. If you’re interested in Young Adult Fiction, it’s a must-read. And, to promote the release of Fire, Cashore is going on a “blog tour!” Every day she’ll be visiting a different literary blog and blogging about the characters from Fire. Each blog she visits will also get a signed copy of the book to give away! Click here for the tour schedule.

Lastly, I found this link to the first chapter of Fire. Happy reading!

P.S. Just when it seems that life can’t get any better, and that I’ll be entertained at least until Thanksgiving by all this wordy picture-y goodness, I remember that two movies for which I have been oh-so-patiently-yet-eagerly waiting will soon open: Whip it! and Where the Wild Things Are. Oh my! An embarrassment of riches! Thank you, universe!

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