I'm not a huge short story reader, but I really enjoyed this collection of holiday YA stories. The romantic stories are either fantasy or realistic fiI'm not a huge short story reader, but I really enjoyed this collection of holiday YA stories. The romantic stories are either fantasy or realistic fiction, although the majority fall into realistic fiction.
My favorites were David Levithan's Your Temporary Santa for the humor (he always makes me laugh out loud) and Laini Taylor's The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer for the fantastical elements and wonderful writing. Most of the stories are pretty solid, although the one clunker for me was Ally Carter's Star of Bethlehem. I usually really enjoy her books, but her short story had an over the top villain and some unrealistic, oversimplified elements.
Just a heads up that every story (except Rainbow Rowell's) mentions a sad and/or dysfunctional family situation, including divorce, dead parents, parents in prison, or parents who have abandoned their kids. Since this is a romance collection though, the stories all end pretty happily. Only exception to this is Jenny Han's story, which was more bittersweet than happy (but still good)....more
**spoiler alert** 3.5 stars - I enjoyed it, but I was slightly unsatisfied when I finished reading it.
The Good: - Actual horror and gore in a vampire**spoiler alert** 3.5 stars - I enjoyed it, but I was slightly unsatisfied when I finished reading it.
The Good: - Actual horror and gore in a vampire book, not just sparkles! - Interesting, diverse characters. I generally liked everyone and thought they were well developed. Main character Tana is strong, intelligent, and funny, and I liked Gavriel's backstory, mannerisms, and craziness. I also appreciate that the author included a diverse cast of LGBT and racially/ethnically diverse characters. - Enjoyable premise, although some elements didn't feel original. The vampires as celebrities concept has been explored in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels, True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse, etc. - Standalone novel/not a series. The author has no current plans for a sequel, and it wraps up everything enough that it wouldn't need one. This is a major plus for me, since I have series fatigue.
The Meh: - Romance between Gavriel and Tana seemed extremely underdeveloped to me. They shared a hot kiss or two, but I never felt like they were in love. I would have liked it more if their relationship had been more ambiguous (no love declarations at the end) and the reader was just left with the possibility of love developing. Honestly, I would've been fine with no romance. - Lucien's death was anticlimactic. Dude got stabbed by almost vampire Tana, but after living for so long, it seems like he should've been stronger (or at least smarter). I also feel there should have been bigger repercussions to him dying, but it happened at the end of the book, so I get why it was probably simplified. - Also underdeveloped - the idea of vampires getting stronger when killing other vampires (AKA in my mind as Highlandering each other). Obviously Gavriel powered up after killing the Spider, but since he was basically a vampire assassin, shouldn't he have been incredibly strong before the Casper Morales escape? I guess he was up against other vampire assassins, but I'm surprised this wasn't explored a little more. Why don't more vampires know about it? Wouldn't Lucien have gotten a little power boost from killing Elizabet? Is it just no one knows and you have to kill a ton of vamps to see a difference? I'm probably just overthinking a somewhat trivial plot point....more
Pictures, IMs, and YouTube videos interlink to tell the story of Glory Fleming, a teen piano prodigy who falls in love with her new neighbor FranciscoPictures, IMs, and YouTube videos interlink to tell the story of Glory Fleming, a teen piano prodigy who falls in love with her new neighbor Francisco Mendoza.
Chopsticks has an interesting concept, story, and visual elements, but I was left a little cold. It was hard for me to connect with the characters, and I read a ton of graphic novels, so I don't think it was the visual aspect that threw me. Since the book is also released as an app, I'd be curious to see if it works better in that format. Probably yes, since typing in the YouTube links in the book is a hassle (is that the letter l or a number 1 in the URL?), while the pictures look more vibrant on a screen. There is an accompanying Tumblr page, which includes links to many of the YouTube videos and some larger images, so it's somewhat of a workaround for readers of the print version. However, as an example of transmedia storytelling, I was left a bit frustrated by the book version. I can't try out the paid app version (it's only on Apple products), but I think the interactivity and ease of switching across media seems like it would be a better experience.
I also knew going in that there was a twist ending, so I probably would have enjoyed it more if I went in totally uninformed.
3.5 stars. Not as good as Anna and the French Kiss, but it still had lots of good moments. I actually really liked Cricket as a love interest, but Lol3.5 stars. Not as good as Anna and the French Kiss, but it still had lots of good moments. I actually really liked Cricket as a love interest, but Lola annoyed me a bit. I also like how the author incorporates the setting of San Francisco (something I think she also did well with Paris in Anna). ...more
**spoiler alert** I loved this book! It's been getting a ton of pre-publication buzz, and it has a very healthy first print run. I haven't read Taylor**spoiler alert** I loved this book! It's been getting a ton of pre-publication buzz, and it has a very healthy first print run. I haven't read Taylor's YA short story collection yet, but now I plan on picking it up.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a trilogy, so sadly, you'll probably have to wait at least another year for the next volume. Fortunately, a few major plot points are revealed, including Karou's identity and Akiva's past.
I loved the writing and worldbuilding. The characters are richly drawn, the romance is lush and electric, and the details of Prague are beautifully described. Even though I initially groaned a little reading the description (angel and demon fall in love; it ends badly), Taylor didn't go the typical fallen angel route, instead introducing a mythology that is different from our concept of demons and angels. And even though it sounds very doom and gloomy (I did cry near the end), it has many moments of humor, such as a very funny line about an "unnecessary penis."
A recent WSJ article included it in its list of books trying to emulate the popularity of Harry Potter. It has good adult/YA crossover appeal, and probably could have been published as adult book, although I do think teens will enjoy it. It does have some sex and violence (nothing close to True Blood or Game of Thrones though), and my ARC copy recommended it for ages 15 and up.
My only criticism: Both the ARC and finalized book covers are okay, but both seem a little generic. Even if I don't really like the Twilight Saga books, I do think the covers are unique and iconic.
Spoiler/Random Thing I Was Left Wondering: Why don't the angels/demons just invade our Earth? War ended. Maybe this will be explained in a later book though....more
Very quirky (one POV is from a pagoda) and very good. I learned so much about pizza delivery!
Vera is a wry and realistic character, and it was nice tVery quirky (one POV is from a pagoda) and very good. I learned so much about pizza delivery!
Vera is a wry and realistic character, and it was nice to have a YA novel with a supportive, but flawed parental character. I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed and underdeveloped, but overall, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book....more
2.5 stars. Didn't dislike it, but didn't find it very memorable either. Also didn't really connect with the characters. Some of this is just personal2.5 stars. Didn't dislike it, but didn't find it very memorable either. Also didn't really connect with the characters. Some of this is just personal preference though, since I'm not a huge fan of school-centric realistic YA books. ...more
After finishing up this book, the 2nd in the Heist Society series, I've realized that I like this series more than Gallagher Girls! I guess I'm a thieAfter finishing up this book, the 2nd in the Heist Society series, I've realized that I like this series more than Gallagher Girls! I guess I'm a thief over spy girl. It's just so much fun - exotic locales, likable, clever characters, elaborate plans, and fairly standalone plots. I can totally see this as a movie - get to work on it, Drew Barrymore!...more
You begin the book standing over a bloody body. When did it all go wrong? Was it the school break-in? Meeting master manipulator Zack? Or well beforeYou begin the book standing over a bloody body. When did it all go wrong? Was it the school break-in? Meeting master manipulator Zack? Or well before then?
Told through second person narration, this modern day YA noir novel captures the mindset of Kyle Chase, a frustrated teen with anger issues. As he recounts the events that led to the bloody beginning, we see his unraveling relationships with his family, friends, and fellow students. Realistic, dark, and fast paced.
Okay, must include my usual one nitpicky comment (sorry, I'm a finicky person). The plural of manga is not mangas. It's just manga. Nitpicking complete....more
Didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Nick and Norah's, but still a good read. Interesting characters, fun dialogue, and a great New York setting. ReDidn't enjoy this one quite as much as Nick and Norah's, but still a good read. Interesting characters, fun dialogue, and a great New York setting. Read this using the Overdrive app on my phone; it worked pretty well!...more
What an awesome YA contemporary romance, and it's a first novel at that! There were so many things I liked about Anna and the French Kiss. First, it hWhat an awesome YA contemporary romance, and it's a first novel at that! There were so many things I liked about Anna and the French Kiss. First, it has loads of romance - stomach churning happiness mixed with the desperate anxiety of first love. Yes, there's a little angst, but thankfully there are no fallen angels, reincarnated lovers, broody vampires, etc. On the flip side, the romance is built on friendship and mutual attraction, and it features charming and intelligent teens who think about sex, but aren't completely cynical about it. (For example, the general sexual ennui of characters in rich kid series like Gossip Girl or the overconfident bravado of Tony from the cancelled TV series Skins). The relationships seem real, whether they're between Anna and Etienne or Josh and Rashmi. The couples fight, make up, and question if they'll stay together after graduation. While the book is definitely romantic, it doesn't shy away from many of the difficulties of staying in or starting a relationship.
The romance is really effective because of the likable main characters, Anna and Etienne. They're well developed and realistic, and I really felt the spark between them. I also enjoyed finding out about the their lives - their family situations, their likes and dislikes, and their strange little quirks. I like Anna's little snarky asides, her obvious love for Seany (great scene when Anna babysits him), and her film references (although the fact that she didn't know Paris was a huge cinema city is surprising considering she's an aspiring film critic).
Captures the uncertainty of going away to college and growing up, along with the romance of Paris. Looking forward to the companion book Lola and the Boy Next Door, which was recently released. ...more
I'm barking mad for this book! I liked the first book in the trilogy, but Behemoth is even better. (I also liked Specials a lot more than Uglies, so mI'm barking mad for this book! I liked the first book in the trilogy, but Behemoth is even better. (I also liked Specials a lot more than Uglies, so maybe I'm just partial to Westerfeld's second books.) Exotic locale, new characters, tons of action, continuing development of relationships, amazing drawings, and a beyond cute loris (well, maybe not as cute as this loris, but still...) Can't wait for the next book (agh, Oct 2011 is too far away)!...more