Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
Remember how I was recently whining about how I just couldn't find any good books, the kind of good that makes you stay up too late and turn your to-do list over so it's not staring you in the face as you ignore it in favor of obsessive reading?
This book is that kind of good.
Alif is a gifted computer hacker living in a rigidly controlled state in the middle east that looks down on things like computer hacking. His character starts the story as naive and a bit shallow but still likable, then evolves throughout the book into someone who knows what he believes and why and that there are things worth fighting for. All he has to do to achieve this depth is flee from government agents, suffer betrayal, face the supernatural, and re-evaluate everything and everyone he holds dear, among many other things.
I loved the setting, so foreign and relatively unknown to me; the characters, imperfect but trying so hard to do The Right Thing, whatever that is; the plot, perfectly paced and thrilling, and that Ms. Wilson somehow made the unbelievable believable. Un-put-downable, indeed.
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
I passed this book up a number of times because I thought and still think that cover is ugly as homemade sin. When Shonya recommended it as something light but fun, however, I decided I could do with something light and checked it out.
I think this is one of those books you could solidly put on a "Beach Reads" list: It's entertaining; you come to really love the characters enough that not finishing the story isn't an option, not at all; there's nothing in this book that's going to cause any unnecessary brain straining, but it's also not one of those where you have to take a deep breath and say to yourself, "I'm just going to pretend I don't need my storylines or characters or their dialogue to be remotely believable." (I'm looking at you, 90% of Christian fiction.) I especially appreciated the many quirks of Moyes's cast of characters, and the way she used an underdog/romance/ family comedy to illustrate the reality of surviving on little money in a middle class world.