nny Han is a genius at writing character: Shug is one of the best middle-grade books I've read, and To All the Boys I've Loved Before was simply darlinny Han is a genius at writing character: Shug is one of the best middle-grade books I've read, and To All the Boys I've Loved Before was simply darling. I didn't mind the "cliff-hanger" ending some people objected to--to me it was less cliff-hanger and more real-world messy. But I loved Lara Jean's sweetness (and yes, naivety. Some girls are naive at sixteen. I was one of them).
Luckily, there is a sequel that picks up Lara Jean and Peter Kravinsky's relationship almost exactly where book one ended. Of course, there are complications--namely, the fact that Peter keeps being seen with his ex-girlfriend Gen, who he claims is going through hard times (though Lara Jean has seen nothing to prove that). And the not-insignificant fact that the only boy who didn't return her letter from book one starts writing back to her--and they might have more of a connection than Lara Jean realized.
I know love triangles get a bad rap (and sometimes deservedly so), but I think there's a place for them. I remember that feeling of having multiple possibilities, of not being quite sure where my heart really belonged. And both of the boys here are charming for very different reasons--they're not just in the story to increase the drama.
Another thing I really appreciated about the book was it's take on sex: so many YA books seem to either not really address it, or the main characters are all over it. Which, I get: some teens are like that. But there are a lot of teenagers who aren't sure, or even ready for sex. And I loved that Han addressed that openly in Lara Jean's own conflicted feelings (dating someone who's much more experienced while still realizing she may not be ready yet). ...more
I really enjoyed this book, which wasn't what I expected in a lot of good ways. Siobhan McQuaid is a pretty ordinary student in her small to4.5 stars
I really enjoyed this book, which wasn't what I expected in a lot of good ways. Siobhan McQuaid is a pretty ordinary student in her small town in Canada: she's obsessed with her music, she works hard at school, and she mostly lies low. But everything changes when Owen Thorskard moves to town with his father and two aunts--all of them dragon slayers. Because Siobhan lives in an alternate world where dragons still live, and are drawn particularly to carbon emissions, which makes everything from driving to factory operations much more dangerous. Oil magnates organized the Oil Watch program, which requires young dragon slayers to enlist to protect the oil fields (which draw dragons for obvious reasons). Siobhan befriends Owen when they're both late to English and get detention, but when she's drawn into his world, she takes on a position as Owen's bard, called to sing the song(s) of his dragon-slaying to the world. While that sounds like it could be hokey, it's really not--partly because of Siobhan's wryness; partly because Owen and his family are doing something pretty incredible--in a world where top dragon slayers work for the government or command top salaries working for oil industries, Owen's family has chosen to eschew all of that to try and help a rural region that can only pay them in goods.
Things I liked: the setting here was fascinating: not just the world of rural Canada, but the world Johnston created. The alternate dragon mythology was pretty cool too. And I love that we get the story from Siobhan's perspective rather than Owen's. While he's literally the hero of this piece, I liked seeing his world from a bit of a remove, and the bard idea is genius. Siobhan has such a rich voice, full of musical notes and trumpets and woodwinds. And while a romance between Siobhan and Owen would seem like the obvious direction this story to take, that's not exactly what happens--and I liked that here, again, the author veered away from the expected and easy answer.
I've read several of Kilpack's culinary mysteries and liked them but didn't love them, so I was intrigued when I saw she'd written a Regency, even morI've read several of Kilpack's culinary mysteries and liked them but didn't love them, so I was intrigued when I saw she'd written a Regency, even more so when I heard it had starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly. And while the story was more of a slow burn than a fast-action piece, there was a lot I liked about it: especially the extreme humbling of the heroine after she discovers her hair is falling out. I can imagine few things more horrifying to a woman who puts all her value in her personal experience. Amber's humbling and transformation give this Regency a lot more depth than most, and the romance (while I wanted *more*!) was sweet. ...more
Rutkowski is one of those authors I want to be like when I grow up: her books are effortlessly plotted, well-paced, and the heroes tread that4.5 stars
Rutkowski is one of those authors I want to be like when I grow up: her books are effortlessly plotted, well-paced, and the heroes tread that fine line between complicated and unlikeable. I adored book one (The Winner's Curse), and I was so happy to find that the sequel didn't disappoint. It's hard to say much about the book without spoilers, suffice it to say that Kestrel has engaged herself to the Emperor's heir to save Arin and his kingdom (though of course, she can't tell Arin, and he doesn't understand why she's done it). The politics were fascinating and well-drawn, the writing was sometimes so lovely it hurt, and, of course, the romance is still smouldering. ...more
Rich, evocative fantasy set in the whaling world of 19th century New England (think Moby Dick, but more accessible). The language was lovely and the aRich, evocative fantasy set in the whaling world of 19th century New England (think Moby Dick, but more accessible). The language was lovely and the atmosphere perfectly drawn: but I didn't love the ending....more
Jude Morgan might be the next best thing to reading Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen. He's got a great ear for period language and the details are wondeJude Morgan might be the next best thing to reading Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen. He's got a great ear for period language and the details are wonderful. Sometimes the narrative is a little slow, but I still really enjoyed this story about siblings Louisa and Valentine who, when their strict father dies, plan to fully enjoy life--with some unexpected consequences. ...more
Easily the best thing about this series is Holmberg's wonderful world, where magicians bond to a material (paper, glass, metal, etc.) and that bondingEasily the best thing about this series is Holmberg's wonderful world, where magicians bond to a material (paper, glass, metal, etc.) and that bonding limits the use of their magic. In book one, Ceony was apprenticed (against her preference) to a paper magician, Magister Emery Thane (just the right amount of delightful and curmudgeonly) and saved him from an Excisioner, an illegal type of magician who uses the human body as their material.
In this sequel, Ceony has resumed her studies but is struggling with her seemingly one-sided attraction to Thane. And when new excisioners show up in town and target people Ceony cares about, what can she do but fight back? Though some of Ceony's choices seem unnecessarily risky to me, I applaud her tenacity and loyalty. And there are so many things to enjoy here: Holmberg's solution to Ceony's increasingly dire predicaments is ingenious, and I do love the bitter-sweet romance between Ceony and Thane. The magic system fascinates me, and Ceony's paper puppy, Fennel, might possibly be my favorite character after Emery Thane. While I think reading book one makes this book a bit easier to understand (we know where Emery and Ceony are coming from), it also works as a stand alone. ...more
Jessica Martinez is a master at combining lyrical prose with tense, sometimes dark plots, and Kiss, Kill, Vanish is no exception. Valentina Cruz, a paJessica Martinez is a master at combining lyrical prose with tense, sometimes dark plots, and Kiss, Kill, Vanish is no exception. Valentina Cruz, a pampered, wealthy Miami girl, finds herself on the run from everything she knows after witnessing her boyfriend, Emilio, shoot and kill another man on her father's orders. Hiding (and freezing) in Montreal, Valentina tries to make sense of her life and figure out what to do next. Posing for paintings by a spoiled rich boy, Lucien, gives her enough money to live on, but not enough to buy her self-respect. But when the unthinkable happens, Valentine finds herself forced to confront her past with a most unlikely ally: Lucien's drug-abusing, cynical younger brother, Marcel. Martinez does a wonderful job painting the characters: Lucian's thinly veiled insecurity, Marcel's contempt, Valentina's own struggle to understand herself and the life founded on drug money. And some of her word-paintings for setting are stunning and vivid. Some readers won't like the allusions to drug use and sex in the main characters, and the plot-line is admittedly dark (and sometimes violent). The ending wasn't entirely plausible to me, and I spent too much time wishing Valentine would just get over her ex-boyfriend, but there was so much to love about the book (the writing, Marcel--surprisingly enough!, and the vivid settings), that these didn't detract from my overall enjoyment too much. ...more
I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this novel. It's truly lovely: rich prose, a vivid setting, characters you want to cheer for (and othersI was lucky enough to read an early draft of this novel. It's truly lovely: rich prose, a vivid setting, characters you want to cheer for (and others you love to hate), and a fast-paced plot.
Peggy Eddleman does a terrific job of making her middle-grade world come alive in her Sky Jumpers books. In The Forbidden Flats, Hope and her friendsPeggy Eddleman does a terrific job of making her middle-grade world come alive in her Sky Jumpers books. In The Forbidden Flats, Hope and her friends are again called on to do what they do best: save their families and friends from danger by taking calculated risks. In this sequel to Sky Jumpers, after a massive earthquake upsets the chemical balance in White Rock, the deadly band of gas known as "bomb's breath" begins to lower. Calculations reveal that the gas will be low enough to make White Rock uninhabitable in a little over three weeks, unless someone can fetch a specific chemical from the Rocky Mountains several hundred miles distant.
Of course, Hope and her friends join up, and much of their adventure involves dealing with the various towns and groups that have sprung up along the plains. As always, Hope is intrepid (sometimes too intrepid), and the story moves along quickly. Since Hope's character was established in the first book, we didn't learn as much about her in this sequel, but Hope learns more about her birth mother and the family she came from as they travel through the town where her birth-mother was born.
But mostly, I was impressed by the fun science in the book. I'm not a chemist (that's my husband), but Eddleman's ideas about how a massive "green bomb" might have changed the chemical characteristics of rocks was fascinating--and, of course, Hope and her friends still get to do cool gravity-defying feats involving the Bomb's breath.
I read this one quickly--now to pass it off to my kids!...more