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.
[The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau ***** I loved this! I read it feverishly (one day), and I loved every single detail. I can't wait for the next one, which is tough, considering this one hasn't even come out yet (beginning of June). I thought the world building was solid, I enjoyed the characters, I liked the mystery surrounding their government -- everything piqued my interest, to be honest. I have my suspicions about how certain aspects of the story arc will develop and ultimately turn out (ie, the romantic portions), and I'm certainly interested in finding out if I'm right. :) I tend to like different kinds of details than many readers, so I'm also curious to find out (once the book comes out) how many people like the testing aspects. I actually wouldn't have minded even more details -- but I really enjoyed the pacing overall, as well. It was simply good, good, good -- just what I look for in a book: exciting, tense, romantic, intriguing. The story: Cia has been chosen for the Testing, the government's way of deciding who gets to attend University to further the country's growth. Cia's tiny town has had no candidates for years, even though Cia knows for a fact that her older brother should have been chosen based on his gifts. But then, right before she leaves, Cia's father (who was a Testing candidate himself) reveals some horrifying secrets about the Testing process...and Cia realizes that maybe being chosen isn't the positive thing she always thought. She has no choice but to comply, however, and when she arrives at the Testing site, she learns right away that her dad may have been correct -- and that her Testing is less about passing at the top of the class and more about actually surviving. As she goes through the various trials, Cia's goals change, and soon she's simply hoping she can get through it all with her mind and body (and life) intact. (YA dystopic suspense, releases 6/13, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)]
[Spirit, by Brigid Kemmerer ***** I loved this too. I've loved all of the Elemental books, though each one is sooooo angsty! Kemmerer has a real gift in her ability to tap into the teenage angst and those feelings of unworthiness and drama. Each book makes me ache for the main characters. This book is about Hunter, the Fifth who'd originally hoped to get Becca on his side (her story meshes with Chris's in Storm). I like Hunter; I like his compassion and his struggle. I definitely feel for him, as he watches his own family seem to turn their backs on him. The disconnect between his own outward behavior and his inner struggle is very realistic, as well, I think. This book is sadder than the first two, as Hunter experiences some true tragedy in his quest to figure out his own abilities as a Fifth and how that meshes with the Elementals and the Guides in this world. However, I like the ending, and I think it's true for Hunter's story (and perhaps opens the door for another secondary character to find some peace too). At the end of the version I read (an e-galley), there's a peek into Nick's story (which I hope is next) -- and wow, that looks amazing! The story: Hunter believes his father, a Guide, wanted him to find and destroy the Elementals. But now that his father is dead and his mother's grief seems to have pulled her from Hunter's side, Hunter has to rely on his own insight...and his gut is telling him to befriend the Merricks, not to destroy them. Plus, the first girl who ever showed friendship to him -- Becca -- clearly trusts the Merricks, as well. Then Hunter discovers another Fifth, a girl named Kate, who appears to also be after the Merricks, and Hunter has to decide between his gut and his memory of his father's dedication -- not to mention his own supposed purpose as a Fifth. It doesn't help that he's attracted to Kate, and despite her apparent passion in wanting to destroy the Elementals, she also seems attracted to Hunter. But Hunter's own inability to trust anyone quickly gets in the way of his instinct, and soon, he feels abandoned by everyone and must find his way all on his own, with nothing but his own unreliable memories of his dad to guide him. (YA paranormal, releases 5/13, publisher: K-Teen)]
The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr *** This was interesting. I'm not as much of a Zarr fan as some people (she has a pretty strong following, and I know that anyone who's liked her previous books will enjoy this one), but I do appreciate most of her books. This one intrigued me because of its topic -- concert pianists. I (obviously) was never on the concert pianist path, but as someone who did major in piano in college, I have a slight awareness of what that life entails. I think Zarr's book hit many things spot on, and it was an interesting look into that world. The main reason I didn't read it thoroughly is because I realized early one what was happening, and I kind of lost interest. That's no fault of the writing, I don't think -- it's just that I've heard enough about these types of things (from people who truly had been on the concert pianist path) that I didn't need to read it. The story: Lucy watches as her younger brother Gus takes on a new piano teacher. Lucy no longer plays, but she finds herself tempted a bit as she see Gus's enthusiasm increase under Will's tutelage. And Will seems interested in Lucy too, and that interest sparks something in Lucy. She begins playing again, and before she knows it, she finds herself back in that place where she's torn between the demands of the music world, the demands of her talent, and her desires and hopes for her own life. (YA contemporary, released 5/13, publisher: Little, Brown)
Currently Reading: The Originals, by Cat Patrick
On Deck: Still a huge pile...exciting and daunting all at once ;)