August’s Reading Wrap-Up and Book of the Month…

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Today’s Topic: What’s the best book you read in August?

My August book choices were fairly diverse. Here’a a quick wrap-up of everything I read:

Notes from the Blender by Brendan Halpin and Trisha Cook – I don’t usually go for funny books, but I won this one in a giveaway and I’m so glad I did!  It’s not exactly the most unique concept (family drama, coming of age), and I wouldn’t call it a literary masterpiece, but it was seriously hilarious. Teen boy Dec’s voice was perfect (and “pervy” :)), and had me cracking up on more than one occasion. Recommend!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin- There were several aspects of this book I loved: the creepiness, the banter, the setting, the unknowing, the shocking ending. And, there are a few aspects I still have questions about: the suddenly intense romance,  the “abilities” of the characters, and lots of loose threads at the conclusion. I’m looking forward to reading Mara‘s follow-up in hopes that some of those questions will be answered. If you’re a lover of paranormal romance, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Drenched by AE Rought – This is only a tease because Drenched is still in manuscript form. It’s the work of one of my fabulous CPs, and is currently unavailable to you. I have to mention it here though, because 1) it’s awesome 2) it’s the coolest take on werewolves I’ve seen 3) there’s an X-Men-ish spin that’s incredibly cool. Be on the look-out for it in the future!

Beat Sugar Addiction Now by Jacob Teitelbaum – This probably seems a random choice, but I’ve been trying to cut back on the sugar and white flour I consume and this nonfiction was a great motivator. It identifies the four types of sugar addiction and gives advice on how to break cravings. I recommend it if you’re contemplating healthier eating habits and want more information about sugar addiction in particular.

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard – Finally a “mermaid book” that lives up! Actually, main character Lexi is a siren, and she’s surprisingly likeable. Her occasional woe-is-me attitude is warranted, and the choices she has to make are legitimately challenging. Another plus: there are two hot guys in this book AND a love triangle that puts Lexi in an impossible spot. For me, the twist at the end was a little abrupt (I would have liked a few more clues leading up to it), but all in all, Ripple was a great read.

And my Book of the Month, the cream of August’s crop: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

From Goodreads – Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square. For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate. Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

True confession: I would have never picked up Plain Kate had it not come highly recommended by Caroline Richmond and Erin Bowman, who both have amazing taste. First, Plain Kate is quite fantastical and I tend to favor more contemporary titles. Also, there is NO romance. None. I love romance–it’s almost always the romantic thread that carries me through a novel. I couldn’t imagine how Plain Kate would possibly hold my attention without a cute boy and some steamy kisses. Let me tell you, between the imagery, the action, the unknowing, the beautiful writing, and the occasional humor, it totally did.

If you’re looking for an example of the oft talked about but hard to pinpoint “strong female character,” look no further. Don’t misunderstand–Kate’s not the ass-kicking, sword-wielding kind of heroine. She’s subtler and smarter. More nuanced. While life hurls challenge after challenge at her, she stands strong in her convictions. Though many try, she refuses to let people (men, mostly) walk over her, and she bounces back from the most impossible of situations with more vitality than before.

Plain Kate is full of gorgeous language and unique, memorable characters. Drina, a spunky, sisterly-type and Kate’s first real friend. Taggle the cat, who I won’t say too much about other than that he’s fabulous. And Linay, dark and mysterious and unpredictable, creepy yet somehow sympathetic. You’ll be thinking about them–and Plain Kate–long after you finish this novel.

So, what’s the best book you read in August? (And how is August already over? *sob*)


36 thoughts on “August’s Reading Wrap-Up and Book of the Month…

  1. Gilly says:

    Oh – how cool that you loved Plain Kate. It’s such a quietly beautiful book – I loved it too. And Erin Bow is AMAZING!! Did you know she offers critique services? I used her query letter critique services and she was fantastic to work with – and effective. Her revised query landed me requests!

    The best book I read this month was Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Not what I expected AT ALL! It turned out to be a modern Gulliver’s Travels . . . fantastic!

    • katyupperman says:

      Yes, Beauty Queens was a fun read. And no, I didn’t know that Erin Bow offered critique services! Thanks for sharing… definitely good information to be aware of!

  2. Rebecca B says:

    PLAIN KATE sounds amazing! I always want to read about subtle and smarter kick-assery. I never would’ve found it on my own, so thanks for the recommend.

  3. Caroline Tung Richmond says:

    YAYYYY! I’m so glad you liked it! I always get nervous when a highly recommend a book because you never know if the other person will like it as much as you do. But isn’t Plain Kate so awesome? The writing is so lovely and I loved how it was a YA without romance. Not that I don’t love romance but it’s cool to see a YA novel that stands completely on its own without one. Again, yay for awesome books and yay for Plain Kate!

    • katyupperman says:

      I feel the same way about recommending books, Caroline… you just never know what someone’s going to think. But yes, PLAIN KATE was fabulous, and I’m glad I get to gush about it here. 🙂

  4. Tracey Neithercott says:

    I’ve been meaning to read PLAIN KATE for a while now. Probably since I saw Erin and Caroline blog about it. I’m not sure why I haven’t bought it yet, but after three of you gush about it, I think it’s obvious what my next buy will be.

    Oh, and I’ve been sugar free for about six months now and thought I’d let you know that YOU CAN DO IT! The beginning week is the hardest (talk about withdrawal headaches) but if you go cold turkey and hold out for a few weeks your taste buds will change and it’ll get a million times easier. Before, I ate sugar with everything (each meal got its own dessert, plus there was the late afternoon candy bar pick-me-up). I mean, I’d go out to dinner and skip the entree and just get dessert. I can honestly say that now I’m not even tempted to eat it. And sometimes when I stumble upon sugar in foods by accident—like hamburger buns, corn chips, etc—I find them overwhelmingly sweet. You’ll start tasting it in savory dishes. It’s crazy. So stick with it! It’ll get easier, I promise!

    • katyupperman says:

      I’m glad you’re going to check out PLAIN KATE, Tracey… I hope you love it!

      Thank you so much on your sugar intake advice. Most people look at me like I’m insane when I mention that I’m trying to quit eating it. I’m doing pretty well with cutting back. The only sugar I’ve been eating is in fruit. I’ve even found a sugar-free ice cream I like, because there’s no way I can quit ice cream all together. I’m so glad to hear that it gets easier… I haven’t had headaches yet, but I’ve definitely had lots of cravings and I’m looking forward to the day those go away!

      I might be emailing you to pick your brain more about this. 🙂

  5. LindaMcLaren (@writerescape) says:

    Well, I guess you put my little comments to shame here. What great reviews. You really took the time to give us an overview. Thank you, you little superstar you! But really, you’ve given me some great titles to pick up! Thanks for popping in too. It’s good fun isn’t it and you’ve helped me with my next book shop visit! They’ll be happy for sure! : )

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks so much, Linda! I hope you love the books you decide to check out, and I hope you’ll be back at the end of next month for my September wrap-up. 🙂

  6. Angie S says:

    I have Plain Kate and the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer on my TBR list. So many lovely books to get to…

  7. Lora Palmer says:

    The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer sounds like an amazing book. Love, love, love paranormal stories, especially ones that have romance and shocking endings. Off to add that one to my goodreads to-read list!

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