Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shorter Musings (YA)

Shorter musings of some recent reads.

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Margot's voice is perfectly teen. She is self-absorbed yet open to learning more about the world around her. She is consumed by petty goals and desires yet has a real desperate need to figure out what she's truly meant to do and live for. She is both shallow and deep. She is incredibly real and the situations she finds herself in are very much typical teen problems. The cover makes this book seem like it might be edgier than it actually is. Margot's family has some serious problems, and part of her journey is learning to navigate those as well as her own social circle's dramas. It all comes together very well. Highly recommended.

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
I was pulled into the beginning of this one. I enjoyed Maya as a main character and found myself really looking forward to her journey and the use of Indian folklore and mythology. The middle got to be a bit tedious for me though. This partly due to personal taste. The lush, descriptive language used here is not my favorite and it got old. I also think it is partly because the story is longer than it needs to be. The end drew me back in, but I didn't end up loving the whole thing as much as I expected to. Amar as a hero never became a real fully developed person for me. Not the way Maya was. I am still going to read the companion novel (A Crown of Wishes) because I'm very interested in Gauri as a character.

When We Collided by Emery Lord
This is a tough book in many ways. The main character, Vivi, has bipolar disorder. Not having any personal experience with that, I can't speak to the representation here (though I've heard good things). Vivi is the type of girl who has the potential to be labeled as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And honestly, if this book had been written by a man, that is most likely all she would have been with some tragic end to teach the boy a lesson. Lord is more careful in her handling of Vivi and her personality, stressing how important it is that Vivi have the treatment she needs and that her manic personality when not on her meds is not healthy for her or the people around her. This is about Vivi needing and getting help. The way that plays into her relationship with Jonah works well. He is a good guy with his own serious issues. He doesn't really need to be taking on hers as well. His father died, his mother is depressed, and he is taking on a lot of adult responsibilities. But they help each other at a time they both need it most. This is very much a summer romance and I was happy with the way all the different elements were resolved even if some felt a bit rushed (while the book also felt a tad overlong). This not the type of book I typically enjoy reading, but it does what it sets out to do well.

The White Road of the Moon by Rachel Neumeier
I enjoyed this so much. It felt so much like Neumeier's earlier works, but with more and it was fabulous. The world is complex and the reader has to figure it out as the story unfolds. I love it when an author trusts readers enough to that. The characters are all wonderful and layered. This is a great story of female friendship and I loved watching the girls fight together and for each other. I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves high fantasy with political intrigue and stories about amazing girls doing great things.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Future Favorite Friday (1)

Since Waiting on Wednesday is no longer linking, I am starting my own feature that I will probably do once a month to highlight 1-3 upcoming releases I'm excited for. If you are interested in joining me for this, let me know and I can make it more formal with a linky and an actual schedule. 

This is technically an ALREADY favorite, but I feel like I haven't done enough to bring attention to the fact that A Face Like Glass FINALLY has a US release date. This is my favorite Hardinge novel and I've never been able to figure out why it is the one book she's written not available here. Well fear not Americans, as of May, you can easily procure a copy. 

In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell's expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . . 

Release Date: May 9, 2016 from Amulet Books

Next up is the sequel to one of my favorite reads from last year. I can not wait to share in the further adventures of these characters. This is one of my favorite sibling/family series.

A missing Martian. A sinister plot. A French spy.

If Edward thought life was going to be easy in Tharsis City, he was very, very wrong. The moment he intercepts a thief escaping from Lady Harleston’s townhouse, he is caught up in a terrible scheme that threatens the whole of Mars.

Soon he’s fighting off vicious sea serpents, battling a small army of heavily-armored thugs, and trying to unpick an impossible mystery. Meanwhile, Putty has declared war on her new governess, a war that, for the first time in her life, Putty may be in danger of losing.

Edward doesn’t know whom he can trust. Will he make the right choice? Or will his family – and his entire planet – fall victim to the treacherous Emperor of Mars?

Join Edward and his family for a whole new, exciting adventure on Mars.

Release Date: July 18, 2017 Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)

And finally for today, is the next installment in Joanna Bourne's Spymaster Series which I LOVE. I'm especially excited about this one because it is about SEVIE and everything about the synopsis makes me want it yesterday.

Séverine de Cabrillac, orphan of the French revolution and sometime British intelligence agent, has tried to leave spying behind her. Now she devotes herself to investigating crimes in London and finding justice for the wrongly accused.
Raoul Deverney, an enigmatic half-Spaniard with enough secrets to earn even a spy's respect, is at her door demanding help. She's the only one who can find the killer of his long-estranged wife and rescue her missing twelve-year-old daughter.
Séverine reluctantly agrees to aid him, even though she knows the growing attraction between them makes it more than unwise. Their desperate search for the girl ​unleashes treason and murder. . . and offers a last chance for two strong, wounded people to find love.

Release Date: August 1, 2017 from Berkley Books

Anyone else looking forward to these?  Which upcoming releases are you certain will be future favorites? 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

TTT: Most Unique Books I've Read

This week's TTT topic: Most Unique Books I've Read

All of these fall under the umbrella of Speculative Fiction, and for most of them their uniqueness lies in their world-building.

 What unique books are your favorites?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shorter Musings (MG)

Here are some shorter musings of recent reads.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams Garcia
Clayton is an excellent main character. He is grieving the death of his grandfather and trying to navigate all those emotions while his mom is dealing with it in exactly the opposite way he needs. The inter-generational struggles here and how we carry the baggage of disappointing relationships into new ones is explored in a way that the target audience can take in. I think this could have been a truly extraordinary book, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it was too short. The last quarter of the book is packed with too much action and emotion with a rushed resolution that fives the reader no time to process it.

Crushing It by Joanne Levy
This is a fun, lighthearted romantic MG read. Yes. Romantic. MG readers often want those too and this is perfect for the age range. It is a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, which the audience isn't going to know or care about, but I think it makes sense to retell this story in the context of middle school. Any one older should know better. My one big complaint with the book was how flat a character Olivia is. She is built on stereotypes and never goes much deeper than that. I really loved the dynamic between Kat and Tyler though.

The Great Shelby Holmes  by Elizabeth Eulberg
I'm very much over Sherlock Holmes adaptations as a whole personally, but at least this one is going to an audience that hasn't been saturated with them. And it's pretty adorable. This is perfect for readers who are still fairly new to MG books. It's short, fast paced, and, while it uses some large vocabulary, is incredibly accessible to many levels of readers. There is always a need for a new, fun mystery series and this has the added bonus of having a diverse cast of characters.

Forever or a Long Long Time by Caela Carter
Flora and her brother Julian spent years in the foster care system and were kids who fell through the cracks of the bureaucracy. They have been with their forever mom for two years now, but when she announces she is having a baby Flora and Julian begin to wonder if there will still be a place for them. They also begin to question where they came from. Their mom takes them on a journey to discover their past and build their family. The book is told in Flora's first person voice and it is really well done. Flora has a hard time expressing herself but is super smart. Her internal monologue reads as incredibly real. All the characters here are wonderful and Carter handles the challenges of blending families and kids with trauma both frankly and delicately. This is a good book for kids who enjoy introspective reads about family and bonding.