19 September 2017

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole; Michelle Cuevas

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black HoleThe Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cute, but so woefully wrong scientifically that it's difficult to recommend. I got the analogy and that this wasn't a real black hole but still!

Not Now, Not Ever; Lily Anderson

Not Now, Not EverNot Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another book about super smart teens at some super smart place that just misses by focusing more on the relationships and less on the super smart part. If only there'd been more about the SF nerdiness and less about the family, the budding romance, etc.. The blurb promises genius nerds and instead, it's normal teens. Sigh.

ARC provided by publisher.

18 September 2017

Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall; Suzette Mayr

Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley HallDr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall by Suzette Mayr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So unsure about the author's intent: is this about academia and the infighting/tension over tenure and publication? is this about racial and socio-economic tensions in academia? is this about a woman in over her head and going mad? all three? more? When the book clicked it was wonderful, but there were also times I just shook my head and wondered where the editor was.

The Midnight Dance; Nikki Katz

The Midnight DanceThe Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely creepy and far less about ballet than the cover promises. The biggest problem is that the suspense parts are a little muddy or perhaps poorly plotted, certainly far less so that the life at the school and the confusion Penny has about who she is and what's happening to her. It also would have been nice had more of the characters been fully fleshed out, but overall that matters less than the mystery of the Gran Teatro.

ARC provided by publisher.

Jane, Unlimited; Kristin Cashore

Jane, UnlimitedJane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF: The first half was wonderful, but then... WTH happened? I skimmed on, hoping it was a dream sequence but no such luck. The incredibly abrupt change in tone and plot just did not make sense.

The Hollow Girl; Hillary Monahan

The Hollow GirlThe Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sigh. Such a struggle to read: the revenge part was ok (if you like this type of story) but the part about the Roma was so stereotypical it was difficult to read. In this day and age, more could have been said and more delicately.

ARC provided by publisher.

Jek/Hyde; Amy Ross

Jek/HydeJek/Hyde by Amy Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure readers even need to know the source material for this book because that might ruin the suspense over What Will Happen. As it is, Jek's chemistry experiments (designer, barely legal drugs, of course) will intrigue them, as will who Hyde is and why his relationship with, or hold over, Jek is so strong. The false notes that I noticed - the school's administration's laissez-faire attitude towards students, the town's structure - will probably not occur to teens, and my bigger quibble about Lulu's somewhat dispassionate account does get answered at the end (no spoilers!).

ARC provided by publisher.

04 September 2017

We Now Return to Regular Life; Martin Wilson

We Now Return to Regular LifeWe Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was something a little off about the ending here and I can't quite put my finger on it. Josh's side of the story was paler than Beth's, and while I understood his conflicted feelings they just didn't move me as much (and what Sam thought/knew was very unclear). Beth, on the other hand, had reactions that felt very real to me: her confusion about who to be friends with now, could she go back to that moment before Sam returned? That we see this through their eyes, not those of Sam or any adult, was a choice that blurs some of the impact but does so in a way that may feel realer to readers because while few people will be in Sam's position it is plausible that they might know people who have been.

Warcross; Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross, #1)Warcross by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reminds me of last year's Arena with a younger cast and more of a mystery. The questions about who can and who cannot be trusted and what motivates the various players and hackers are well presented; the worldbuilding, on the other hand, is weaker than is usual in a Lu book (hence the four, not five, stars). At times it felt like Warcross was something like Capture the Flag in a virtual environment, but then there were other elements that weren't completely explained but hurried through. On the other hand, the worldwide fascination with the game and the obsession with gathering points and "leveling up" feels very real in a world where getting "likes" and "follows" is important. How the series progresses will be interesting.

28 August 2017

The Apprentice Witch; James Nicol

The Apprentice WitchThe Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Charming story about a world in which magic and non-human creatures exist (that moon hare? so cute!) but loses points because Our Heroine and the supporting characters are one note. We got it, Arianwyn is a klutz and something of a disappointment. While she does grow some in confidence during the book, every now and then it reads as though she was getting away from the author's first idea so let's bring back Clumsy Arianwyn. Everyone else was decidedly stuck as whomever they were when we first met them. The world-building was a little odd: is this closer to our world (telephones!) or an older, more medieval version? Having said all this, middle grade readers probably won't have these qualms and I can see this being a hit.

ARC provided by publisher.