Back to Back Great Reads: Seraphina and Such A Rush

I miss blogging! I think this is the longest that I’ve gone without a post. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to blog once things have settled down – I’m still trying to get used to so many aspects of the move. Anyway, I read and loved two titles recently: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols. Since I wasn’t sure if I could write a full review for both anytime soon, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about both titles in one post.

Here’s the summary of Seraphina from Goodreads:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Seraphina is a lovely book. I remember rushing to a bookstore in Manila to grab a copy of this on its release day because I’ve heard such good things about it and I couldn’t wait to read it. I was disappointed in the books that I read before Seraphina so it was a pleasant surprise that I found a YA fantasy that I could really sink my teeth into. Seraphina is exactly the kind of character that I love, one who possesses admirable inner strength. I’m also a fan of the world that Rachel Hartman created, where there’s a tenuous peace between humans and dragons. I liked how distinctly different humans and dragons are – the latter sees the former as a weaker race, prone to emotional decisions that aren’t always logical whereas dragons are more detached and analytical. And I found it intriguing that dragons can take human form. I really liked how subtle the romance was, it wasn’t the focus of the story and they started out as friends. There were so many details to love in this novel and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel – I wonder how long do I have to wait to read it? Here’s a quote from the book that I loved:

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”

From fantasy, let’s move on to contemporary. It has never been my dream to become a pilot. I was briefly interested for a time but then I found out that there’s a height requirement and I wouldn’t make it. I have the utmost respect for pilots though – I think what they do is amazing. And I’m a big fan of strong women so I think lady pilots are awesome. It’s funny because I wasn’t actively seeking to read novels that feature women as pilots but I’ve ended up loving two such titles this year: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and now Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols.

Here’s the summary of Such a Rush from Goodreads:

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

Jennifer Echols’ Going Too Far was one of the first contemporary YA novels that I fell in love with. I’ve read the rest of her books after that, hoping that they’d be just as good but they didn’t live up to Going Too Far. Until Such A Rush came along. Now I have another Jennifer Echols novel that I can enthusiastically recommend. I felt so bad for Leah – her story made me realize that not everyone who lives in a first world country has a good life. It made me sad that she didn’t have access to so many things that we all take for granted – internet, cellphones, buying groceries and take out whenever we need to. I’m amazed at how she took control of her own life because she doesn’t want to be stuck in a trailer park her whole life. I also loved the tension between Leah and Grayson, with all the ambiguity of their relationship. Jennifer Echols sure knows how to build up a slow burn romance. I was rooting for the two of them to get together even if they had to work through so many issues. Highly recommended for fans of swoon-worthy contemporary YA.

What about the rest of you, have you read and loved any books lately?

Shoot That Book: 2012 Favorites So Far

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

Somewhat in relation to yesterday’s topic, I thought I’d take a picture of my favorite reads in 2012 so far, and feature them in this week’s Shoot That Book post:

 2012 Favorites So Far

In no particular order (although the three titles above are 2012 releases):
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Trese: Mass Murders by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
Northlander by Meg Burden

That’s two fantasy novels, one historical fiction, one contemporary romance and one graphic novel. Quite a mix, right? Let’s see what will be included in my round-up at the end of the year. I noticed that I had twenty favorites in 2010 and fifteen favorites in 2011 so maybe I’ll have only ten favorites this year? So I know I already asked about this in yesterday’s post but I just wanted to bring it up again – what are the books that have blown you away in 2012? 🙂 They don’t have to be 2012 releases, just books that you’ve read and discovered this year.