20 August 2017

The Hazel Wood; Melissa Albert

The Hazel WoodThe Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why do Alice and Ella keep moving around? Unexpectedly leaving homes and cities in the middle of the night, sometimes because something has happened. Something weird. Then Ella's reclusive author-of-tales-of-the-weird mother dies, and perhaps everything will be alright. And it is... for a few months. It appears as though Althea (Ella's mother and Alice's grandmother) and her stories may be behind it all... That search for answers is really well done.

The questions of what a Story is, how they get transmitted and how they live in the world aren't new. This exploration of some of the answers is certainly creative and doesn't give us cute Disney stories but more gruesome Gimm-like ones (a huge plus!!). If only the world building had been a bit stronger, this could have been a solid five star. As it is, it's a shade over four but a highly recommended read for those who love their stories a bit on the dark side.

ARC provided by publisher.

18 August 2017

They Both Die at the End; Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, I confess: I like Death. I'm not saying I have a death-wish, but the idea of DEATH (in the Pratchettverse) and books about him (her? it?) as a character or plot twist (ok, reading Sunshine and Love Story as a young teen may have had something to do with that) is one of my jams. And books like Denton Little's Death Date or the "Dead is..." series play into that. So of course I wanted to read this!

The premise is akin to the Denton Little premise: you get a phone call that says, essentially, today's your last day. An entire industry has sprung up around it, complete with an app that pairs you with a Last Friend and a Make-a-Moment amusement park. We have Mateo and Rufus, from different worlds, using the app and spending their last day together, bonding a Last Friends. In a very odd way, this doesn't feel fake! Maybe the timeline is accelerated, but they do feel as though had they'd met elsewhere, they would still have connected and become friends. But the constant switching of POVs was annoying (please, publishers: make authors stop!!). So only four stars.

ARC provided by publisher.

As You Wish; Chelsea Sedoti

As You WishAs You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What makes the caves in Madison special? The wishing. The bigger question is why do the caves grant wishes? Of course, that's never fully explored. What does get explored is the tried-and-true cliche "be careful what you wish for" and how those wishes can really, years later, haunt you. Eldon's deep fear that he will wish incorrectly leads him to ask a variety of his townspeople about their wishes and their experiences in an effort to figure out his wish is done sensitively. However, the side plot about his sister detracts from that at important moments. His wish does tie in with what we know of him and who he's become; that we never really learn how it affects everyone else (beyond the short term) is a little disappointing but understandable.

ARC provided by publisher.

Nothing; Annie Barrows

NothingNothing by Annie Barrows
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is what teenage girls sound like: the BFF code/jokes, the levels of like/love/angst, etc.. Pitch perfect. And yes, this is (like Seinfeld infamously was) about "nothing", the "nothing" that goes into our daily lives particularly when we're teen girls in high school. What stopped this from being a five-star was the odd decision to alternate chapters between first and third person. No idea why that was thought to be a good idea (perhaps, better differentiate between Charlotte and Franklin?) but it does get distracting.

ARC provided by publisher.

I Hate Everyone But You; Gaby Dunn

I Hate Everyone But YouI Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Formatting as both texts and emails was innovative a few years ago. Now? Not so much. And the plot, such as it is, is not quite YA, not quite "new adult" but tries to be a little bit of both. Two BFFs, one on each coast, talking about their first year in college (plus sororities, boys, drugs, classes, etc. - in other words, normal life) really did read as being in a real voice but, as is real life, rather boring. That might appeal to teens, but I suspect they'd want something a little more to keep reading.

ARC provided by publisher.

13 August 2017

The Empress; S.J. Kincaid

The Empress (The Diabolic #2)The Empress by S.J. Kincaid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite a decent attempt at "previously..." the mythology, history and plot really require having read Book 1. Readers coming into this series here will be totally lost.

ARC provided by publisher.

Moxie; Jennifer Mathieu

MoxieMoxie by Jennifer Mathieu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

i feel so old: the Riot Grrll thing feels like it happened yesterday, but it was 20 years ago. 20. And I was in my 30s, so a little old to embrace the "new" message of female empowerment. Still...

While the message here is great, that you can change things that are blatantly wrong and unfair by bringing them out into the light, the story is incredibly predictable. This may not matter to teen readers, particularly those who may decide to use some of the tactics and methods that Viv uses, but it bothered me that there was nothing surprising here. It's like Sarah Dessen went to feminism school.

ARC provided by publisher.

06 August 2017

Flame in the Mist; Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The setting, feudal Japan, is evocatively described and made this reader want more. Unfortunately, the plot was weaker than the setting. The revenge theme was muddy, there's something that might be magic but might just be poison, and some of the action scenes felt a bit poorly planned. It was great that our heroine wasn't some superheroine but prone to rashness and making mistakes; the love story was less persuasive. There's a sequel, if not more, which may have been the problem - watering things down to stretch into more than one volume isn't always a good idea.

My Future Ex-Girlfriend; Jake Gerhardt

My Future Ex-GirlfriendMy Future Ex-Girlfriend by Jake Gerhardt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suspect many male middle grade readers will find themselves here, as either Duke, Sam or Chollie. They may even learn something about relationships. Not a bad thing!

Felix Yz; Lisa Bunder

Felix YzFelix Yz by Lisa Bunker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A kind of odd mixture: there's a lot going on, but perhaps a bit too much. The major plot surrounds Felix, who at age three was somehow fused with an alien being during a scientific accident. This has led to physical issues not to mention the emotional and psychological ones of having another being inside his brain. And, in 30 days (the book is a countdown) there will be a Procedure to - they hope - separate the two. Then there's the Felix-and-Hector friendship, or possibly more. And Hector being mixed-race. And Felix's Granby, a gender-fluid grandparent who spends half the week as Vern, half as Vera (and one day naked) using the pronoun "vo". And Mom's soon-to-be former boyfriend and possible new girlfriend.

I love that the diversity isn't a preachy one. And that Felix is relatively normal, given the whole embedded alien thing. But, is it too much? I wonder if the alien part of the story, which is fascinating enough to hold our interest, isn't overshadowed by the gender-fluidity all the other stuff. Or how much stronger each side would have been had they been given their own story.

You May Already Be a Winner; Ann Dee Ellis

You May Already Be a WinnerYou May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Predictable story about a young girl coping with a broken family (Dad gone, Mom unable to cope).

04 August 2017

Monsterland; James Crowley

MonsterlandMonsterland by James Crowley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We're definitely not in Kansas here! This quest adventure is a great twin to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz except with monsters (Franklin Prometheus! Dwight!). The sense of fun with the genre is evident and this is a great addition to the October scary/haunted/monster story display.

All the Crooked Saints; Maggie Steifvater

All the Crooked SaintsAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With so much attention today on diverse voices and different experiences, this could be a great addition to a collection; having said that, there will probably be some uproar over cultural appropriation and writing outside your experience. Neither of which should matter, as the culture being appropriated is essentially made-up/heavily fictionalized and the experience is magical realism within that culture so... just read, ok?

The writing is, as is all of Steifvater's work, both lush and precise. There are gorgeous images (the desert! the pilgrims!) and yet they're never overly written. As much as I appreciated the writing, at times I found some of the repetition annoying (but that's me, not all readers) and the plot a bit predictable. Overall, I can't wait to share this with readers.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Girl in Between; Sarah Carroll

The Girl in BetweenThe Girl in Between by Sarah Carroll
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Homeless teens are a rarity in YA lit, which makes this story so important and yet it's presented almost as an adventure thus lessening any impact it may have had on readers. It's clear that Ma has problems, and that our unnamed main character is scared (and hungry) but beyond that? Perhaps this was better in outline than fleshed out.

A Map for Wrecked Girls; Jessica Taylor

A Map for Wrecked GirlsA Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So predictable, both in plot and in structure (intercut "how we got here" sections). Yawn. Redeeming factor? Not too many lessons learned.

All Rights Reserved; Gregory Scott Katsoulis

All Rights Reserved (Word$ #1)All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The idea that your words - all words - and gestures are subject to copyright and royalty payments is a bit horrific but somehow makes sense given today's litigious society. So fast forward to an unspecified somewhat dystopian future and voila, the Word$ series. I know people today frequently don't know what is a trademark (eg, Xerox or Kleenex) vs the generic (eg, photocopy or tissue), and as we sue over perceived slights and infringements things could move in this direction; that families have to pay for ancestral "illegalities"is equally interesting, given the millions who used Napster and other such sites.

So far, so good. But... the dome. The plucky girl who decides, suddenly, not to be Branded or make her Last Day speech. The sparking of a resistance movement. It all sounds just a little too familiar. Still, the ideas are thought provoking enough to make this a recommended read.

ARC provided by publisher.

27 July 2017

Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood's Revenge; Susan Vaught

Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood's RevengeSuper Max and the Mystery of Thornwood's Revenge by Susan Vaught
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ending was a little rushed, so a loss of points. Beyond that, Max's wheelchair is such an important part of her life and a character in the book on its own. That's a very refreshing thing and a great addition to our diversity collections! Can't wait for the next episode.

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting; Joe Ballarini

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting (A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting #1)A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very Buffy. With maybe a little Susan Sto Helit from Hogfather. In other words, highly enjoyable.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Emperor's Riddle; Kat Zhang

The Emperor's RiddleThe Emperor's Riddle by Kat Zhang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, how I wish there'd been more backmatter! All too often I had to stop and look up things: did the Emperor exist? What about the temples? etc. Oh well. Beyond that, the mystery and riddle solving will interest readers, and the diversity/identity issues are presented in a way that they can identify with easily.

Nevermore; Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan CrowNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why it took so long to read this I honestly don't know. But now I have, well... pity I can't ever read this again and discover it anew. I'll have to settle for reading and finding new things to enjoy.

There's such a great mix of influences here, from Oz to Narnia to Harry Potter to Peter Pan to Coraline to name every great MG/YA fantasy series. While most of the target audience won't necessarily get the references, it doesn't matter; I plan on doing a display with all of them in hope that they'll discover backlist titles that have been semi-forgotten as so many new books get published.

ARC provided by publisher.

Bad Boy; Peter Robinson

Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)Bad Boy by Peter Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of these years, I'm going to read this series in chronological order. Not that it's necessary, but there are some characters and outside plot areas that would be great to get as they come along not as I find the books. Anyway... here we get to meet Tracy, Banks' daughter, which expands our world a bit. Her problems and the crime are intertwined nicely, and Banks' skirting the letter of the law (or coming close) feels very real. On to the next!

14 July 2017

Roar; Cora Carmack

Roar (Stormheart, #1)Roar by Cora Carmack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading this, I kept thinking of the matrix stones in MZB's Darkover series (no idea if they were any influence on the author). The problem is that so much of this is fuzzy: what are the stones? who or what is the Stormlord? More worldbuilding, please. And did we need three devastatingly good-looking males? Far too much time spent with "Roar" and "Locke" flirting (rather childishly) and far too little time spent on the stormheart stones, the political stuff and poor Nova. I know this is the first in a series, but something is lacking.

ARC provided by publisher.

Little & Lion; Brandy Colbert

Little & LionLittle & Lion by Brandy Colbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I had breakfast with the author at ALAAC17

Such a lot going on here, sometimes a little too much. I'm not against diversity in books, but here we have diversity of race, religion, mental health, socioeconomics, hearing ability and sexuality. Whew! At the heart of all this is the story of Little (never explained as a nickname) and Lion (short of Lionel), siblings in a blended family. Blended = African-American women, converted to Judiasm, and Jewish men. That's a great story, right there. But add in all the other stuff and, well, it becomes just a bit player. Despite all that, I wanted more.

ARC provided by publisher.

Cyclone; Doreen Cronin

CycloneCyclone by Doreen Cronin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A little heavy handed on how bad guilt is and how peer (or cousin) pressure can literally hurt, but otherwise decent YA book about a traumatic injury and how it can bring families together.

The Glass Town Game; Catherynne M. Valente

The Glass Town GameThe Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to much to love this (Brontes!) but it was a DNF due to the Amelia Bedelia-esque nature (think: Napoleon's army are frogs) and the fact that all of that needed to be explained to readers.

ARC provided by publisher.

Three Pennies; Melanie Crowder

Three PenniesThree Pennies by Melanie Crowder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marin's life hasn't been easy: she remembers her mother literally giving her away and foster care hasn't even begun to give her love or care. Then, through a couple of coincidences, she ends up with Dr. Chang, a single doctor who really wants a daughter (and possibly a cat) to love. There are lessons learned, etc. but ultimately it's a happy ending. My quibble is with the owl - huh? Although it does make for a great cover!

Copy provided by publisher.

When Dimple Met Rishi; Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely a winner in the YA Romance genre. For me, though there was a loss of points because the tech stuff felt very rushed - all the build-up to InsomniaCom and then really, nothing. Only a few peeks into that world and the work that Dimple and Rishi were doing. Girls who code may feel slightly marginalized by this as the stress is on romance, not apps.

Shadowhouse Fall; Daniel Jose Older

Shadowhouse Fall (Shadowshaper, #2)Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I enjoyed the different take on the idea of a Chosen One and that this is set in Brooklyn, the problem for me was not having read the first book so much of the mythos was lost on me. People who read my reviews know that one of the ways I rate series is how easy it is to pick up the "previously" part if you're new to the series. This is not one of those books.

ARC provided by publisher.

Dreamland Burning; Jennifer Latham

Dreamland BurningDreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I had breakfast with the author at ALAAC17

There are many "lost" episodes in history and this is one. Given today's political and racist tensions, it's an important one to relearn and to remember. So, what happened? Tulsa Oklahoma was the site of what's being politely called a "riot" but honestly, the way in which it's described it sounds just like the one of the pogroms my family fled in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Buildings looted and razed. People killed. Families terrorized. "Good" people coerced into committing horrific crimes and a few brave people who stood up or helped the helpless.

Framing this story by telling the tale of Rowan, a biracial teen on summer vacation when an unexplained corpse is discovered in the shed house behind her home, helps modern readers make sense of what happened all those years ago. Her journey regarding race, socioeconomic bias and friendship is really well told. At no point does this feel preachy or forced!

Copy provided by publisher.

Grit; Gillian French

GritGrit by Gillian French
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A little too eager to ramp up the suspense but often there's nothing there. The plot, in and of itself, isn't bad and the way in which Darcy handles her life and her cousin feel somewhat real. But again: there's suspense. And yet, not really. Perhaps a slightly less heavy-handed insistence on that would have helped?

The cranberry scenes were the best, showing the mix of workers and the life of the summer job as it was for many (and still is for those not going to enhancement classes or on a service trip or other resume building thing). That's something that many of the teens I work with need to see.

ARC provided by publisher.

29 June 2017

Ramona Blue; Julie Murphy

Ramona BlueRamona Blue by Julie Murphy
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So very, very predictable. Ramona's life is difficult, but so stereotypically that it's difficult to care.

DNF.

31 May 2017

The Wingsnatchers; Sarah Jean Horwitz

The Wingsnatchers (Carmer and Grit, #1)The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Steampunk meets Fae in an interesting way. I loved both worlds, and when they met it wasn't something I'd read before (doesn't mean this was a first, just that it's a first for me). Who or what is killing the Fae, taking their wings? Can one world cross over into the other without harming it? And then there's both Carmer and Grit, who were fun and feisty in turns. If only the world building had been just a tad stronger, with less "coming up in Book Two" going on.

ARC provided by publisher.

25 May 2017

The Last Thing You Said; Sara Biren

The Last Thing You SaidThe Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A little too deliberate in tugging on the heartstrings, a little too predictable in the story line.

ARC provided by publisher.

24 May 2017

Speed of Light; Carol Weston

Speed of LifeSpeed of Life by Carol Weston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nearly perfect. The problem is the occasionally clunky note when Dear Kate responds, and the relationship between Kate and her daughter, and Sofia and The Potential Boyfriend. This is also written in a middle grade style, but is supposed to be for older teens (who may need this more, but won't respond to the style).

ARC provided by publisher.

21 May 2017

And Then There Were Four; Nancy Werlin

And Then There Were FourAnd Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, there's a clear allusion to Christie's And Then There Were None (one of the most popular books at my library) and it is actually deserved. As with all mysteries there's a certain suspension of disbelief needed and I think teens can easily do that. The questions of why and exactly who are answered slowly enough that they'll keep reading, but not so slowly they'll get bored (and there's no "aha! here it all is" moment at the end, as there is in so many adult mysteries).

ARC provided by publisher.

16 May 2017

Finding Mighty; Sheela Chari

Finding MightyFinding Mighty by Sheela Chari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is parkour still a thing? I mean, when I mention it to students (from all over, and over a period of years) no one seems to know what it is in the same way they know about skateboarding or tagging. Anyway... If the adults in this book were paying just a little bit more attention, none of the suspense would have been possible, so here's to oblivious adults! Also missing from Myla and Peter's lives? Explanation. Some of the coincidences required too much suspension of disbelief for me, but I suspect middle grade readers won't have a problem with that.

14 May 2017

This Is Just A Test; Madelyn Rosenberg

This Is Just a TestThis Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This falls into the "why on Earth is this set in the past?" genre. Ok, great, we can talk about the Cold War. Sigh. Nothing really special about this except for the two grandmothers. Two stars for that!

ARC provided by publisher.

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan; Patricia Bailey

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit DonovanThe Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite my dislike for the "gutsy in anachronistic ways girl lead" genre, this doesn't irk me as much. Possibly it's because in the Wild West gender roles were often somewhat nontraditional, with girls given more freedom than their Eastern counterparts. Having said that, there is a large dose of improbability that adult readers will have to swallow; younger readers won't have read as much and will be swept along by the plot to notice.

ARC provided by publisher.

13 May 2017

A Face Like Glass; Frances Hardinge

A Face Like GlassA Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Loved. This. This came soclose to being a 5 star - sometimes the plot meandered too far, or got repetitious, when more description or action was called for.

But when this is on, it's on. The "horror" of Neverfell's face, its mobility, contrasting with the frozen faces of the others in Caverna is so well depicted. I kept thinking about watching this unfold on screen, how the Facesmiths would teach people how to use an expression, or how this was (in a small way) similar to Oz' Princess Langwidere and her many heads. The cheeses, the wine, the houses: all wonderful inventions. I just wish there'd been more of some of this! Not a sequel, just less intrigue.

ARC provided by publisher.

08 May 2017

Fakespeare; M.E. Castle

Fakespeare: Something Stinks in HamletFakespeare: Something Stinks in Hamlet by M.E. Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the more popular titles in our MS is YOLO, Juliet, while in our US students are liking Romeo and/or Juliet so any fun introduction to Shakespeare is a welcome addition to our shelves. And that this is starting a series? Yes, please. This is skewed towards younger readers who may not have ever studied the plays, giving them just enough of the plot and the characters to enlighten without confusing them or making them afraid of Close Reading in the future.

ARC provided by publisher.

Noteworthy; Riley Redgate

NoteworthyNoteworthy by Riley Redgate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Incredibly conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it says some interesting things about elite schools and their traditions, as well as their commitment to diversity (not just racial, but socioeconomic). On the other, it presents crossdressing as almost a lark, along with the questions about sexuality and gender identity. The meaty stuff around Jordan's identity in almost every area is dismissed relatively quickly, doing readers and the character a disservice. Before putting this on your shelves, ask someone involved in the non-binary/LGBTQ community for their opinion.

ARC provided by publisher.

06 May 2017

Restart; Gordon Korman

RestartRestart by Gordon Korman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stars only because the target audience won't have read books with the same theme/plot. But for those of us who have, the idea that a concussion could lead to a complete change of personality (for the better!) and some sense of atonement and shame for possible previous actions is, well, not new. Usually Korman books have something different to them, but Chase's story really doesn't feel anything other than a retread.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Walrus Was Paul; R. Gary Patterson

The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues of 1969The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues of 1969 by R. Gary Patterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For conspiracy theorists only! I remember hearing about this when I was a young'un, but seeing how the "clues" were laid out (seriously? HELP had clues???) was interesting. And possibly great insight into how conspiracy theorists today might operate.

03 May 2017

Bad Romance; Heather Demetrios

Bad RomanceBad Romance by Heather Demetrios
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of course, as fiction, this is seriously overdone but there's a lot here for teens to relate to in terms of relationships (parental and romantic) that are just... bad. How Grace's life unravels is in part due to her not being safe at home, and not understanding how Gavin operates because of that. Abusive relationships aren't always easy to notice at the beginning, and by the time you do notice it can be too late. This wasn't so sensationalized that teens will not recognize what's going on and possibly enough will remain with them so that they can recognize it in real life.

ARC provided by publisher.

01 May 2017

The Traitor's Kiss; Erin Beaty

The Traitor's Kiss (Traitor's Trilogy, #1)The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

There's love for this book, but I just didn't feel it. Maybe it was because I am just so very, very tired of having so many books with multiple POVs, or because the plot felt like something I've read many times before, or... who knows. I do know that the so-called rebelliousness of Sage didn't feel as much like rebelliousness as it did Moving the Plot Forward. And the political intrigue? The war? Meh. Other reviews will talk about the whitewashing and other issues. I didn't even read far enough to register that.

22 April 2017

The Gauntlet; Karuna Riazi

The GauntletThe Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always loved those gateway-to-another-world type books, and this one does a great job of putting together a new world and peoples in game format. The diversity of the characters doesn't feel at all forced or heavy-handed but just as another commonplace, another nice aspect. Of course, for me, the best part is that this is a one-off, not part of a series, and that the world of the Gauntlet won't be easy to replicate.

ARC provided by publisher.

19 April 2017

Saint Death; Marcus Sedgwick

Saint DeathSaint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A difficult read. The danger that Arturo faces in his daily life, the world of Mexican narco-trafficking and gangs is perhaps a little sensationalized but it feels real. There are moments when readers will wonder how he will survive, and perhaps those moments are a little too difficult for younger teen readers to read just yet.

ARC provided by publisher.

16 April 2017

Defy the Stars; Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Constellation, #1)Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What could have been a standard space adventure feels different thanks to the addition of some rather sophisticated questions about robots (can they have our sense of individuality? can they develop a sense of self? how much self-determination is there if they are essentially programmed?). Abel is in some ways a younger version of Data, and his relationships with Noemi and his creator are depicted realistically enough to elevate this from dystopian-adventure. The adventure and dystopian parts aren't bad either.

ARC provided by publisher.

13 April 2017

The End of the Wild; Nicole Helget

The End of the WildThe End of the Wild by Nicole Helget
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fracking is one of those hot-button issues and it was only a matter of time until some author decided to use it as a background for a MG book. This could have been more heavy-handed but luckily, it wasn't. Instead you get the realities of the situation: families in need being offered a way out of their situation by big companies who don't mention any of the bad effects that might come from allowing the drilling to occur. The heavy-handed part comes in the form of Fern's grandfather and her school project, but when you're talking environmental issues that's to be expected.

ARC provided by publisher.

10 April 2017

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel; Kimberly Willis Holt

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise MotelBlooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another entry in the "quirky homelife" and "crusty-old-man-isn't-really-crusty" genres (they don't always overlap but often, they do). Stevie's coming to grips with her changed life and figuring out how to live with her grandfather - never a previous part of her life - while also grieving her lost parents isn't easy. It is, however, predictable. If only authors would be brave enough to do something a little different... but that's just me.

ARC provided by publisher.