January 26th, 2013


Book Reports (14-15)...

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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[The Lives We Lost, by Megan Crewe megancrewe ****+ I really enjoyed this! I got to read it pre-publication, as well, and I always enjoy seeing how the manuscript evolves between the two. But even without that glimpse into this middle novel of the trilogy, I would still have enjoyed learning more about Kaelyn's journey. This middle book is definitely darker, and you can almost feel their hope dwindling throughout the story. Yet, Megan does a great job keeping it alive just enough that you feel like they could make it. It's hard to see Gav struggling; and Kaelyn's own doubts and determination are truly the driving force of the book. Her ability to focus on the possibility of the vaccine even amidst the death and craziness they experience brings light into the dark world. I also enjoyed the changing relationships between her and Gav and her and Leo. Her loyalty is just as fierce as her determination. This does end with a cliff-hanger (of sorts), so be prepared. :) But I imagine anyone reading this trilogy will be wanting the third book desperately, regardless. The story: Kaelyn, Gav, and the others are forced to leave their island, though Kaelyn had planned to go, anyway. She discovered a vaccine and some notes by her father which could be the key to counteracting the horrible virus which is slowly taking over North America. Traveling through a disease-ridden countryside in the winter is no easy task, and it doesn't help that someone lets it slip that they have a possible vaccine. Although Kaelyn believes doctors can be found in Toronto, they struggle to even reach that city -- and renegades who want the vaccine for their own purposes are right on their trail, forcing them to either switch vehicles (not an easy task with little gas available -- plus, they have to find the keys, as well) or go on foot. Plus, there's always the threat of the virus, itself...and time seems to be running out. (YA science fiction/dystopic, releases 2/2013, publisher: Hyperion)]

The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken **** I ended up liking this more than I thought I might (in the middle of the book). The opening is very gripping, but then I began to feel overwhelmed by the number of things I simply didn't understand about the world building and the circumstances surrounding these unusual kids. It was especially frustrating because there were hints as to what happened to Ruby (the MC), but the truth didn't come out until well after the mid-point of the book. Still, the story is intriguing enough that I persevered -- and it was good. :) Ruby's abilities are definitely intimidating, and her lack of understanding about them makes it challenging. (I found that a little frustrating too -- she was pretty stubborn about hiding them, and because that hid quite a bit from the reader, as well, I kept wishing she would open up more.) The bad guys are truly frightening, but so are some of the good guys (in all honesty), and as the title hints at, the book is dark in many ways. I will definitely look for the next book in the series, however (just to see what happens next with Liam and Ruby, if nothing else). The story: Ruby and all other children who survive the strange virus are gathered up and sent to camps -- horrible places where the children and teens are treated like dangerous cattle. No one seems to understand the new abilities that have arisen in the surviving children (ages 10-16, I believe). Ruby's hiding her orange abilities amongst a group of greens and blues, but when one of the adults discovers her -- and breaks her out of camp -- Ruby suddenly finds herself without any of the safety nets, and her rules for survival have changed. She escapes even her rescuers and ends up on the run with a group of other former camp kids, all of them with secrets. But despite her growing attachment to Liam, the leader of their little group, Ruby isn't sure she can trust him -- or herself. And the adults on both sides (those for the kids and those against) are drawing nearer.... (YA dystopic, released 12/12, publisher: Hyperion)

Currently Reading: School Spirits, another Netgalley title; and I have a great stack of library books to consider too.