Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Recommended Read

I confess I had to think about this challenge for a bit.  Someone recently asked me how I figure out what to read and I totally understood that it was a serious question as book stores dwindle and so far, no online service I've run into has really replicated that process to the same degree.  There are, of course, librarians.  So, looking through my TBR pile I had to figure out where the hell I had heard about some of these things.  I have two books lingering that were actually lent to me by friends and someday I will get to those (and they would have been perfect if I had, you know, read them, I will get to that any day now.)  But in the end I kind of retrofitted this, read some stuff and then remembered that hey someone told me to read this. In one case, even before I got around to buying it.  So, I am going to talk about two.  (Because I am an overachiever.  And because I'm so impressed that I have already exceeded last year's February reading total, although now I remember why it was so dire.)
First is Courtney Milan's Unraveled. This is the third about the Turner brothers, I still need to get to the first so I feel entirely safe saying that they do not need to be read in order.  Smite Turner is a magistrate who takes justice so seriously, even his colleagues call him Lord Justice. Miranda Darling was raised in her family's acting troupe, and has now ended up with a small (but now twelve) boy in her care.  She has agreed to appear in court on behalf of another child who was accused of stealing.  Smite recognizes her from a similar appearance made on behalf of someone else, and warns her that she should be careful. 
(Sidenote: There is some amusing back and forth about Miranda's surname which I found even funnier having known a lovely neighbor with the same surname.)
Well, sparks fly and I want to both tell you everything and nothing.  I will say that I think this story encapsulates that excellent blend of romance where there are two people who understand each other and also make each other better people for their relationship.  Also, and I will be terribly vague here, there's a moment where it seems clear that one character will go do this thing and while you understand why, you just want to reach in and say stop, and well, they didn't.  And it was cool, not just because it was unexpected, but because the second choice actually made even more sense to me once I realized that's what they would do. 
As I had read the previous book in the series, it was on my radar.  But my friend tweeted that she had scarfed it up on a sleepless night, reminding me to pick it up.  Once again, this was a 2011 release, so not very far back in my TBR pile. 
The second book is Lauren Oliver's Delirium which takes place in a dystopian version of Portland, Maine where love has been declared a disease, responsible for all sorts of deaths from things like heart attacks and other madness.  But now they have a cure, it just has a teeny problem, it's a little unsafe when used on people under 18 (can lead to death) so people get scheduled for their cure at 18 and then get matched up to folks they are compatible with and everything is better.  This is one of those books I bought when it came out and then kept putting off until a friend told me to just go read it already. (Of course, she said that in September, so sometimes I am a slow responder.)  I enjoyed it but wasn't really attached to it until all of a sudden it took an intriguing turn and next thing I knew I was racing through until the end.  So, now I need the next.  (It's a trilogy, like so many YA's these days. And it stops at a clear stopping point, but, if this was a TV show, this would totally have "to be continued" flashing up at the end.) 
I do feel like this is the kind of book that would be fun to talk about with others.  Actually both of these are, it's interesting to me how things can be placed in this other place, where past or future (or fantasy, even those neither of these are strictly fantasy) and provide opportunities to really look at things. That makes both of these books sound terribly dry, like fiber or something, which was not my intention.  Both would have good food for discussion.