It’s Monday! What are you reading? 1/14/13

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In an effort to take my participation in the blogosphere up a notch, connect to a community of book bloggers, and do a better job documenting what I am reading, I have decided to participate in “What are you reading” Monday, a meme started by Sheila over at  On Mondays, I’ll share the books I finished the previous week, have started reading, and plan to read in the coming week.
Be sure to jump on over to her blog to see a list of other meme participants.  It’s a fun, fast way to learn about possible TBR titles and get to know some of the other bloggers out there.
And so, here’s what I am reading this week:

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh

Fate: Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born? Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? Jepp of Astraveld needs to know. He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer. After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can’t even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master–a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars–who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past. Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real histori-cal characters, “Jepp, Who Defied the Stars “is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny. ”

I picked up this lovely, little guy at NCTE this past year when I happened to stroll by the publisher’s booth and notice a line of people waiting for an author signing.  When I learned the book was free (shameless), I jumped on in, completely unaware of who I was waiting to see.  Oh, my gosh!  It was Katherine Marsh (The Night Tourist).  Lucky me!
My first impression was to oooh and ahhh over the cover art.  The minute silhouette of the protagonist, Jepp, a dwarf in the Spanish Infanta’s court is set against a city’s skyline underneath a milky-way night sky. The title dominates the cover in ornate silver lettering; the ink inside is indigo blue!  “Defy the stars!” Katherine inscribed on the title page addressed to the students at Fossil Ridge, and I thought to myself how empowering the call could be for so many of them.
Confession:  This little guy sat on my “to be processed” cart until after the Winter break when I finally finished barcoding and covering its dust jacket with our shiny, protective film.  And, instead of shelving it I ended up snatching it away to horde in my office to read at school.  So far, I am enjoying getting to know Jepp, and I have formed a fondness for him, especially once he leaves his mother to be a prized possession of a spoiled and corrupt court.  I have a feeling, however, that Katherine is about to break Jepp’s heart (and my own!).  

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….
Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill – called a Grace – are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

For shame, for shame, I have never read Graceling.  Now that it’s 2013 I knew it was time to get serious about catching up on some terrific 2012 books, which include Bitterblue, so at the urging of several of my library regulars, I stored Graceling in my TBR pile on my night stand.  I’d walk by, glance at my pile, notice it sitting at the bottom and sneak it up a few spots in the stack until finally, there it was, right on top!  

At first I had a sneaking suspicion that I had read it before.  Female assassin who is controlled by a corrupt entity to do another’s bidding questions her place in society and her entire identity.  Enter in exotic, yummy young man who tempts our fearsome heroine away from her understood station in life only to discover that she’s met her equal in intelligence, skill, and strength…sounded an awful like Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers to me, which coincidentally was written after Graceling.  I don’t care if the plots are similar;  I love them both!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. 
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Another goodie that I have been withholding from myself as a reward for doing this and that.  Am I the only one who uses books as motivators to do the unpleasant stuff first?  I’m not moving through this one as quickly as I anticipated, but I think I had just come off a rocky, realistic fiction binge over the break, and my reading soul cried out for a little bit of magic and fantasy for a while.  

Stay tuned to see if I finish them by next Monday and what books are up next!
It’s Monday!  What are you reading? 

8 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What are you reading? 1/14/13

    Anna Hutchinson said:
    January 15, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I've heard great things about Grave Mercy, but this is the first time I've seen it compared to Graceling, so now I MUST read it. Kristin Cashore is one of my absolute favorite YA authors these days. Personally, Fire is my favorite of her three books, but they're all wonderful, really.Have a great week!

    Tanya Patrice said:
    January 15, 2013 at 1:44 am

    I loved Graceling, but haven't read A Fault In Our Stars yet either. I'm hoping to get to it soon as well :-)Tanya

    krisbis said:
    January 15, 2013 at 2:14 am

    I absolutely loved The Fault in our Stars. Reward yourself! 🙂

    Anne Bennett said:
    January 15, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I just became aware of Jepp and want to read it. But first I have to order it for my library. Your other two books are fabulous and so many students line up to read them both.If I can figure out how to follow you, I will. I am a high school librarian and enjoy reading librarian blogs!Anne @ My Head is Full of Books

    Ms. Yingling said:
    January 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I can see the appeal of The Fault in our Stars, but it wasn't my thing. Of course, when I reward myself, it's usually some vintage children's book or rereading a favorite like Beany Malone! How else can we be motivated?

    adwilson said:
    January 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Anna, thanks for your comment! I really enjoyed Grave Mercy. I feel that it is more historical fantasy than fantasy. The author does a terrific job of embedding the culture, history, and beliefs of Brittany. Historical fantasy is my guilty pleasure 🙂

    adwilson said:
    January 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks, Anne! I saw you are reading Aristotle and Dante. It's on my next order list. Looking forward to checking it out.I'm not very thrilled with Blogger's dynamic views. I'll switch it back over to standard, then the "follow by email" gadget should appear on the right side of the blog again.

    thechroniclesofachildrensbookwriter said:
    January 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I think you may have sold me on Jepp, a book that has caught my eyes for its title and cover. But a book with different colored ink just cinched it for me, lol.

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