December 16th, 2011

(no subject)

Well, it's that time of year again (though I can hardly believe it) -- time to list my top ten YA reads for the year. This year, I only made it to just over a 100 (ack), so it was pretty easy to pick out the ten. If I happen to read something fantastic between now and the end of the year, then it'll get a special mention, as well. :)

The covers link to The Tattered Cover's (our local indie) pages.

If you'd like to see all my year-to-date four-plus- and five-star recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites.

These are all five-star reads:

***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

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Awaken, by Katie Kacvinsky - Here's what I said right after reading it:

Well, after all my ranting about not finding a book which could really suck me in, this one did! First off, I really like Madeliene, the MC. She's spunky and stubborn and fiercely loyal (even to those who don't quite deserve it). Second, I thought the premise was unique enough (in a world filled with dystopic books) to stick with throughout the book. In fact, it got more interesting to me as it went on (I sometimes find that dystopics have a great hook but it's built on a shaky foundation). Third, Justin (the rebel leader) was portrayed through Madeliene's eyes so well -- he was confident and passionate and vulnerable and dedicated...their experiences together were intense and lovely and pretty realistic (imo). I loved that Madeliene was challenged in her ways of thinking and that she grew and matured -- but she also remained true to intrinsic ideas she held dear. And I especially loved how she challenged Justin in his ways of thinking. I think it's neat that I could see the truth in both their eyes, even though it seems contradictory some of the time. I'm hoping there will be a sequel, even though (for me), I could see this ending right where it did...I'm a sap for a happy ending, and I think the two of them finding a way through the muddle in their world and through their own opposing ideals for individual humans would be fantastic! The story: Madeliene is trapped in her father's world of digital control. After rebelling a few years earlier, she's now on 'probation' until she turns 18. But now, with less than a year left, she's growing impatient with his leash -- and when an online acquaintance asks her to meet him in a face-to-face study group (unheard-of these days), Madeliene agrees to go...and everything changes. She quickly learns to crave experiencing things in person, rather than online. And the rebellion she once knew makes its way to the surface again...though everything is complicated by her growing feelings for Justin, his insistence that he needs to go along his path alone, and her father's growing power in the digital world. (YA Science Fiction, released 5/11, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)

What stayed with me? Mostly the ending (though I loved the romance too). There was a surreal mood about the place where Madeliene ended up -- like one of those movies where the sun always shone golden, the lawns were green, and children ran around laughing and carefree. The funny thing is, the book doesn't actually end right there -- it ends after that, but those scenes are what stayed with me. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopic or adventure stories, especially those who like the idea of subtle rebellion.
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Book Report (106)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool). 'R' means it's a re-read. Different colored font means it's an ARC for 2011 (and I'll try to remember to put the month it's released, as well). I'm linking to Tattered Cover's pages for the ARCs.

If you'd like to see my year-to-date four-plus- and five-star recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites.

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

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Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi **** Okay, this had one of the slowest starts ever -- and not because the very beginning wasn't intriguing. I loved the first few pages, but then...well, it stayed that way for so long that I almost put it down and gave up. However, the overall premise (the flap copy) promised something more, so I stuck with it, and by midway, I was hooked. I really liked the overall story -- it was romantic and unusual, and the ending was phenomenal (to the point that I'll definitely be picking up the next one -- and I'm waiting impatiently for it). For me, this book really pointed out the importance of finding that balance between creating tension and simply confusing the reader to the point they no longer care. ;) Granted, once it picked up, it picked up so much that I could barely put it down, so it did turn into one of the better reads for the year. All this to say, if you pick this up and struggle to make it through the beginning, it's worth it (if you like paranormal romance)! The story: Juliette has been locked in a cell for far too long, and no one has talked to her in almost a year. When a boy is thrown into her cell with her, all she really understands is that he must not touch her. However, he's not the typical boy, and it doesn't take long before memories begin to surface -- then Juliette is released from her prison, and she discovers the boy works for the army (those who have taken over). Soon she must decide if she can trust the boy (Adam) or his boss (Warner) -- both of whom try to lay claim to her. For Juliette has a power they all want -- her touch can kill. (YA dystopic/paranormal, released 11/11, publisher: Harper Collins)

(P.S. As I was contemplating my top ten reads, this story kept popping into my mind, but I couldn't find it in my reviews...I read this a while ago and forgot to put it down -- makes me wonder how many others I've forgotten!)