January 1st, 2013


Book Reports (1-7)...

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. Brackets mean it's an ARC (linked to Tattered Cover's book page) or e-galley.

If you'd like to see my recent four-plus- and five-star YA 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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(In alphabetical order by title):

Black City, by Elizabeth Richards ****- This is very compelling, and I was completely hooked by the world building. That said, I must admit to some disappointment in the characterization. I liked the characters in and of themselves, but the relationships between many of them were pretty shallow. For example (without giving any spoilers), when one character is being forced to choose between two others (an unusual triangle, I might add -- better done than most), he asks girl A if she truly likes him or just his looks and/or the idea of him. She admits to the latter. But when he questions girl B, she claims it's the former -- but she doesn't know him any better than girl A does, and their interactions do not support a deeper awareness of each other beyond the physical (and the other factor, which I will save for those who read the book). Sadly, I found most of the relationships (friendships, as well) to be on a similarly shallow level. Still, I will definitely pick up the next book -- to see what happens in this fascinating world. The story: Natalie, an upper class citizen (and daughter of their city's ruler), is forced to attend school with the lower class students when her family returns to their city. Natalie befriends Day, a lower class girl who's very intelligent, but is mostly fascinated by Ash, a twin-blood (meaning he's half-Darkling, half-human). She and Ash form a strange bond, despite their initial antipathy. But their city is in chaos, and all the citizens are torn between Purian Rose (a religious fanatical leader), the humans who want all-inclusiveness, and the Darklings. Can Natalie turn her back on her mother and her mother's hopes for her and stand up for what she truly wants? (YA dystopic/urban fantasy, released 11/12, publisher: Putnam)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor ***+ This is an incredibly lush tale. It reminds me of a pan of Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownies -- and honestly, for me, reading the entire book was the literary equivalent of sitting down and eating the whole pan. In other words, I found it fascinating, and I loved the world building (yet again). The characters were rich and complex, and the setting was exotic. However...it was a little too much for my reading palate. Around 1/3 of the way through, I had to take a break and skim the rest. I could take it all in much better that way, and I do like the story (enough that I'll be looking for the next book). The story: Karou looks like most other humans -- apart from the blue hair and strange tattoos on her palms, that is. Her friends assume she dies her hair (she doesn't) and that she got her tattoos in the usual manner (she didn't). They also assume her drawings are from her own imagination (of human-animal hybrids) -- but they're not. And Karou begins to suspect that she doesn't belong to this world anymore than her caretakers do...but she never suspects that she might have a role in a world-crossing conflict. Or that her love was so strong that it inspired both wonderful and horrific events. (YA paranormal fantasy, released 6/12, publisher: Little, Brown)

Fade, by Lisa McMann (R) I won't star the re-reads -- clearly, if I'm re-reading them, you can know it's because I love them. This is only the second time I've read this one (the middle of the WAKE trilogy), and I liked even better this time (knowing how it all turns out).

Incarnate, by Jodi Meadows ***- This is another interesting world, though I thought it was ironic how similar so many of these books ended up being (some of the main elements were related to bonds and reincarnation). I picked this one up as the final book of my week, and it suffered for it, in all honesty. I just couldn't find it in me to care about Ana and her predicament (and in all honesty, the fantastical characters seemed extraneous). I liked Sam very much, but I will admit the concept of him and Ana as a couple didn't work for me (she's a newsoul, and he's lived for thousands of years in different bodies). Ana's courage was impressive, but she did come across a bit as a petulant child (probably because almost everyone else treated her that way), and I finally lost interest about halfway through. I did skim to the end, but I don't know if I'll pick up the next one in this series. The story: Ana leaves her mom (who hates her) when she finally reaches the age of maturity in her world. Her goal is to travel to Heart and discover why she's a new soul (rather than a reincarnated soul, like everyone else) and why the woman who died before her birth was not reincarnated in Ana. Her first night out, she's saved from a Sylph by a young man (in looks only) named Sam. He takes her under his wing and into his home in Heart, but can Ana truly trust anyone? Everyone around her seems wary of her newsoul status, and no one knows if she's come back again after she dies -- it's an existence of limbo, and Ana struggles to find her own way as a new soul in an old world. (YA fantasy, released 1/12, publisher: Katherine Tegan books)

Legacy of Trill: Soulbound, by Heather Brewer * As the title suggests, this book centers around a girl who is 'soulbound' to one boy though intrigued by another, and as I picked this up right after Black City, I just couldn't find any interest for this tale. I read the first chapter and put it down. However, I wanted to mention it here so that I'll remember to pick it up again down the road -- the book still sounds interesting, and if I hadn't just read something else with such a similar premise, I think I'd like it (perhaps even more than the other one). Plus, I read a couple of Brewer's Vlad series and really enjoyed them.

Middle Ground, by Katie Kacvinsky ****+ I really enjoyed this! First, it had nothing in common with the other books -- yay! Second, it's the next book in the Awaken series, and I loved Awaken. This one is definitely a bit darker than the previous book. In that way, it reminds me of the Wake trilogy (interesting, no?). But I really like Maddie. She's courageous and perhaps a bit impetuous, but she feels everything so deeply. I like Justin still too, although he's quite intense. The story: After helping Justin and his group lead the revolution against the digital schools (which Maddie's father started), Maddie is living away from her parents -- and away from Justin, to her dismay. When she lets her brother turn her into the detention center ("let" because she has helped others escape), at first she's not certain she can survive their brutal brainwashing methods. However, with the support of a new friend (Gabe) and her old friends, including Justin, she decides to stick it out for the six-month mandatory period. In that time, they work on finding a way to free all the 'inmates' -- and Maddie discovers that her father didn't actually know what happened in the DCs (even though he's supported them from the beginning). Can she and Justin lead more teens into a non-digital world -- and will Maddie have the strength to face the brutal choice her father puts before her? (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 11/12, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)

Wake, by Lisa McMann (R) I flew through this first one again, and I've just started the final (GONE). I really enjoy McMann's approach to the YA thriller (they're all very creepy), and her characters' interpersonal relationships are intriguing.

Currently Reading: Gone - big surprise.

On Deck: I have three books by writing friends -- I'm looking forward to all of them!