OMG, spoiler spoiler in-retrospect-totally-predictable spoiler!!! (As you could probably tell, I'm still enjooying these.)
It's Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini
The first half of this book, when the teenage protagonist is struggling and failing to overcome his depression, was hard to read and I put the book down a lot. Once he checked himself in to the psychiatric ward that's at the heart of the story, though, the story was both compelling and hilarious. Couch-poundingly so.
The Places in Between, by Rory Stewart
One of those gonzo "you did WHAT?" adventures - Rory Stewart is a Scotsman who walked very long distances in India and the Middle East, mostly alone. This piece is about his walk through mountainous parts Afghanistan in early 2002, and the people he met there. I'll be reading his other book, Prince of the Marshes - and I am amused to learn he became a provincial governor in Iraq.
River Marked, by Patricia Briggs
Still digging this series, although the author took the main character and her love interest mostly away from the supporting cast and I missed the supporting cast! Oh, ensemble books, why must you deprive me of my ensemble?
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys
This book was heartbreaking, lovely, infuriating, and inspiring. I wouldn't have tried it on my own, because boy did I not think I was in the mood to read a YA novel about Siberian labor camps, but it was pressed on me by a friend, and I'm glad for it. The characters were very richly drawn.
Crying Blood, by Donis Casey
It's weird to think of "cozy" mysteries being set in turn-of-the-last-century still-kinda-frontierlike Oklahoma, but I think cozies is what this series has settled into being. But smart, thoughtful, ones. And I'm enough of a geek that I *love* all the historical details.
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
I don't like reading about trapped people, hostages or otherwise, so I'd put off reading this for a long time. And it did make me cry. But the prose is so lovely I could barely stand to put the book down, and the characters felt like so much like real people. An intimate and wide-ranging book.