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Booksbooksbooks! January Lookback Edition

Welcome to Booksbooksbooks, my monthly lookback at awesome books I've read & loved in the previous month!
In the interest of time and being spoiler-free, I'll be posting my reading highlights with brief commentary on why I loved the book. Where possible, I'll post link to the books on GoodReads so that you can easily mark the ones you haven't read & want to as Want to Read.
Here we go!
My first Awesome Read for January was:
I'm going to date myself a bit with this reference, but...this book was like "bubble boy" for a new generation. But in the best possible way. I don't usually read a lot of contemporary, but if there are more like this, I'll definitely pick up more books. I read it through in one sitting at the bookstore and literally laughed out loud, cried, gasped, and wept. It didn't matter that there were other people around. I didn't care that I was making a bit of a scene. It was just me and the characters and the story and it was so clever and beautiful that I just. didn't. care. what other people thought. I loved it. Marvelous debut for this author. Very, very well done.
(I will say that on further thought, there were some issues with the story -- but if I tell you about them, it'll spoil the story. So go read it, then DM me on Twitter and we'll chat. In fact, I encourage you to!)
2) AFTER OBSESSION by Carrie Jones & Steven Wedel
I didn't know anything about this book, so I wandered in blind and came out the other side the next morning with a) not enough sleep and b) satisfaction for having sacrificed sleep for reading. It's a YA dark paranormal possession story that incorporates Navajo spirituality and a cast of characters that seem quite real and well-developed for the short space given to their actual early development. The first few pages in, I wasn't sure if the book was for me. A few more pages in and I didn't stop reading until the book fell onto my face because I'd fallen asleep. And then when I woke up, I grabbed the book and my coffee and finished it.
When I Tweeted the authors the morning after to tell them about this, they thought it was hilarious. Meanies. :P Heeeee!
3) THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z by Natalie Blitt
A sweet, entertaining YA contemporary romance from a debut author. The characters were believable and flawed in the best of ways, and I found it refreshing to have a story where the reactions to events and revelations rang true to life. The only bizarre part was just how overly obsessed the MC's family was with baseball -- I mean, changing a funeral time of a family member to not miss a baseball game? It was just really weird to me, maybe because I don't really...uh...sports. I don't sports? Yeah. Sportsball is not my thing. :P That said, it was a good read and because it's digital release only right now, paying only $2.99 felt...wrong, somehow? I'd have paid paperback price for it! Overall a strong debut from a promising new author! YAY DEBUTS!
4) BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE (Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
Okay, I know I'm really late to the party on this one, but here's the thing. It took me a while to get into THE DREAM THIEVES, the second book. I started it immediately after the first book, but stalled about a third of the way in. I don't know why it didn't grab me. I was frustrated because I wanted to like it, because I had a strong feeling that this series had a slow build and that it would seep into me and rattle my bones at any long as I kept at it. I don't know what made me feel that way...the writing? The atmospheric development? The characters? But I put it down. For months.

Then I picked it back up again. Read two chapters. And wondered how I ever could have left this story, these people. 

Finished it without even catching my breath. Set it down, ran to get book three before my heart burst from my chest...and here is where it all came clear to me. Where words on a page turned into reality, where the people and story and Cabeswater became real and burrowed into my head until it was all I could do to unstick the book from my hand to eat or drink or, you know, do those things humans need to do.

I finally understood why this story has wormed its way through so many people. This was more than payoff for sticking through, this was...I don't know. Hearts on a page. Magic that squeezes your insides and leaves you wanting more.

When I turned the last page, the book had not even fallen from my hand before I'd reached the computer to click "pre-order" on book four. I cannot wait to experience how this story ends...and yet I don't want to say goodbye, either.

Good grief. I'm still thinking about it. I just can't let go. I don't want to.
And that's the Booksbooksbooks list for January! What fantastic books did you read this month? I read plenty of others that didn't make it into this post (because I don't want to take up your entire day, frankly), but please share your favorite January reads with me. 


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