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.
[School Spirits, by Rachel Hawkins ***+ I liked this, especially at the beginning. I'm a huge fan of Hawkins' other series (Hex Hall), and this book takes up with Sophie's cousin Izzy, who is introduced in the third book of the trilogy. I like Izzy, and I like her struggles with her mom. I thought the opening was very engaging, and I like how Izzy started an actual high school for the first time...and the friends she makes are also very intriguing. Where I lost a little interest and began skimming was in the middle, where the mystery Izzy and her friends were dealing with got a little involved for my taste (ie, it was complicated but I suspected the resolution from the beginning). Still, I really like both Izzy and her crush, and I like how the story resolved (and how the crush will join the cast). I'll definitely pick up the next one. The story: Izzy wishes she could find her older sister, and she hates how her mom never talks about it. Then, her mom decides it's time for Izzy to learn how to fight on her own, and her first case means she has to go to high school (for the first time ever) and solve a ghost case. While at school, Izzy has to learn how to be 'normal,' how to navigate the teen scene, and how to get a ghost to leave the inhabitants of the school alone. She also makes real friends (and a possible boyfriend) for the first time. In the end, will she be able to see it through -- and how will she deal with the consequences? (YA paranormal mystery, releases 5/13, publisher: Disney-Hyperion)]
The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson ***** Okay, I loved this one as much as the first. :) Carson definitely shows how to make the middle book in a trilogy compelling, and I loved the new challenges (and romance) which comes Elisa's way. Truly, I just love Elisa, period. She continues to surprise and remain strong, no matter what comes her way. She learns how to lead and how to gain the confidence of her people, and the reader gets to travel right along with her. I love how Carson puts us so deeply into Elisa's head that we feel everything she's feeling, and yet it doesn't take away from the plot at all. I thought the tension grew just the way I wanted it to -- and I love, love, love the romance. It's so consistent with not only Elisa's character but also her world and her past. I can't wait for the third! The story: Elisa is now the queen of Brisadulce, but her people don't have the confidence in her they should, and as parts of her large kingdom begin to rebel, she has to prove herself to the small ruling council along with all the people. As the Invierne continue to rise, Elisa doesn't know whom to trust -- and on top of it all, she's being forced into a marriage which will benefit her people right as she begins to fall in love...with someone whom Ximena believes is not right for her. Will Elisa be able to overcome the challenges and prove herself as a ruler -- along with keeping her love -- in time to save her kingdom from the Invierne and an internal traitor? (YA fantastical/historical/suspense, released 9/12, publisher: Greenwillow Books)
Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, by Kathryn Williams ***** I really enjoyed this, as well. I loved all the food issues (loved them), and the behind-the-scenes stuff was also very intriguing. I like Sophia, and I thought the other characters were interesting and complex, as well. I really liked Sophia's family too. If I had one complaint, it was that the ending/resolution felt a little rushed. I could seriously have spent another 50+ pages with these characters and their circumstances, so it was a little disappointing when everything seemed to speed toward the ending. Still, I liked this. :) The story: Sophie's best friend convinces her to enter a contest for a teen cooking reality show, and to her shock, she gets in. However, the show is more fiction than fact, and although Sophie feels like she's learned a great deal, she's not sure she likes how the producers are presenting her. Plus, the contestants are mic-ed all the time, and the camera crew not only overhears more than Sophie wants, but someone is trying to create friction between the teens. In the end, Sophie has to decide how badly she wants to win and what the overall experience should mean to her -- and how it will affect her family and her best friend, as well. (YA contemporary, released 8/12, publisher: Henry Holt)
Currently Reading: Um, I'm in between reads, but I have some intriguing possibilities right now...
On Deck: Light, by Michael Grant (waiting for me at the library -- woot!)