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.

03 April 2017

Knock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts; Esta Spalding

Knock About with the Fitzgerald-TroutsKnock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding
My rating: 3 of 5 star

Loved this, but if you haven't read the first book it might not make sense (and given the target reader, middle graders, that might be a problem). The Fitzgerald-Trouts are Pippi Longstocking-esque, living virtually without supervision or parents on a tropical island. Unlike Pippi, each book is one adventure, which allows for a little more world-building. Cute series and can't wait for the next book.

ARC provided by publisher.

02 April 2017

Overturned, Lamar Giles

OverturnedOverturned by Lamar Giles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just didn't buy much of the premise: not denying the mob isn't involved in Vegas casinos, or that a teen can't be great at poker but there are moments here, particularly those involving The Big Secret that just felt too forced. Nikki was a good character but the others were fairly one-dimensional, which isn't unusual in a mystery/adventure but this would have been far stronger with more character development.

ARC provided by publisher.

01 April 2017

The Lottery's Plus One; Emma Donoghue

The Lotterys Plus OneThe Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute. And very obviously so: Donoghue is trying very, very hard to appeal to a middle grade reader with a love of puns. The diversity is wielded with a heavy hand and doesn't feel (to this reader) at all natural. Still, this is a relatively clever update on books like The Saturdays and that's not a bad thing at all.

ARC provided by publisher.

25 March 2017

Internet Famous; Danika Stone

Internet FamousInternet Famous by Danika Stone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe it's me, but I'm pretty sure I've read this before. That's not to say that the teens reading it will have, just that the plot repeats what's been done before. For those that haven't, it's a decent read about what happens when your online life intrudes into your real life, and how people (some people, not all!) can take power and pride in being mean. The bigger problem is that in this case, it all turns out ok. How many teens being trolled will have such a resolution?

ARC provided by publisher.

19 March 2017

Bang; Barry Lyga

BangBang by Barry Lyga
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lyga has a real ear for how teens speak, and a great sense of how to portray their lives. Bang, his latest, may feel "ripped from the headlines" and perhaps sensationalistic, but with only one blip, it really worked for me. I won't spoil it for others, so I can't comment on that blip now... but the five stars is really four-and-a-half rounded up.

Sebastian's pizza, though? No recipes? Perhaps it's for the best... or maybe there'll be a real YouTube channel for the videos. A pizza lover can hope.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Star Thief; Lindsey Becker

The Star ThiefThe Star Thief by Lindsey Becker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the problems of reading as much as I do is that it takes a lot to surprise me, to feel that a book is doing something new. And one might argue that The Star Thief is an astronomer's version of the Percy Jackson stories but... it feels new. It feels fresh. It read wonderfully.

The orphan-who-is-really-special here is Honorine, who learns that her life of drudgery is merely a ploy to keep her safe (from her father, no less). So far, so normal. But the who of her mother and father, the how of the adventure (and where they go) is what makes this special. I particularly loved that this wasn't all about the typical North/West constellations and I had to go to do research into some of the less-familiar (to me) ones.

I could see this becoming a series, but it could also be a stand-alone. I'm happy either way.

ARC provided by publisher.

17 March 2017

Genius: The Game; Leopoldo Gout

Genius: The GameGenius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ok, clearly the first book in a series (or trilogy? duology?) because far too many loose ends were left. But beyond that, not a bad book.

Of the three main characters, I liked Cai/Painted Wolf the most (Tunde seemed really stereotypical, and Rex was oddly flat). Had the entire book been about her, it would have been even better but we need Rex and Teo to set up the second book, sadly. Kiran's ethics and motivations were also stereotypical and I often wondered if the author was trying to subtly(?) comment on global networks and the so-called flattening of information, along with our addiction to social networking. Or maybe I'm reading waaay too much into this? The stereotypes and fake African patois cost the book stars.

Blood Family; Anne Fine

Blood FamilyBlood Family by Anne Fine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Much of this was really well done, despite being one of those multi-POV books (please, can we just STOP THIS TREND???). Edward's life and reactions to the way in which he's treated are very real up and to the point he starts going off the rails. I'm not suggesting that part isn't real, as well, but it's the ending that bothered me: he seems to recover from that too quickly, too well. Or perhaps it's more that the author glosses over that part? Because I really don't buy that he's recovered, that it happened that seamlessly. And I don't buy that his descent into "problem" territory was that mild or short (again, it could have been the way in which it's depicted but still...).

ARC provided by publisher.

The Beast Is An Animal; Peternelle van Arsdale

The Beast Is an AnimalThe Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF. I tried - but about 100 pages in it just wasn't working for me (plucky heroine, puritanical village, dark forest? nothing new in any of that). YMMV.

13 March 2017

A Good Idea; Cristina Moracho

A Good IdeaA Good Idea by Cristina Moracho
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nothing surprising here. Fin's grief and reaction to Betty's death, her search for the killer and interactions with people in the incredibly small Maine town she mostly grew up in are all predictable. The unpredictable? Her relationship with Serena, which didn't feel quite real (not that it couldn't happen, just that given her feelings for Owen it wasn't plausible except as shock value... or someone suggesting to the author that adding it would be a good idea). Teens might enjoy this more than I did, hence the three stars.

ARC provided by publisher.

Eyes of the World; Marc Aronson

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern PhotojournalismEyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Robert and Cornell Capa (along with their mother) are buried in my Meeting's cemetery, and I've been involved in creating some signage explaining who they were and why they're there. So a book about him and his contribution to our understanding of war? Yes, please. The Spanish Civil War is one of those "I think I understand it... but it's incredibly confusing" events, and this book does a decent job of explaining the various factions and what happened. For that, two stars.

However the book itself? So problematic. Starting with, why present tense? It's an odd choice for non-fiction about the past. The framing device of D-Day doesn't work well and could easily have been done without (although the part about Capa's post-Spanish Civil War career needed to be told). Some people, like Capa's mentor, are paid short shrift, while others are hinted at (there's a couple mentioned on page 180 that are never named, but there's a hint that these are Important People). And Appendix C, the one with the comparison to the Syrian Civil War? My head hurt. There were other things that were problems that might be changed by publication, like failing to credit the photos on each page (were they Capas? Taros? someone else?). I could go on, but then I'd need another drink.

ARC provided by publisher.

11 March 2017

Deadly Tasting; Jean-Pierre Alaux

Deadly TastingDeadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It feels harsh DNFing a 100 page book, so I finished this. The writing style (either in the original French or in translation - I don't know which to blame) is overly ornate, with many, many subordinate clauses and far more commas than necessary. I like amateur detectives, especially those with interesting careers, like Lovejoy. The amateur detective here is a wine rater but the bits about that part of his life are, sadly, boring. And let's not get into the fact that he, his sidekick and the police detective are just annoying.

Denton Little's Still Not Dead; Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Still Not Dead (Denton Little #2)Denton Little's Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit it, I totally squeeed when I saw the ARC at ALAMW. Sadly, this suffers in comparison to the first book: Denton's wry take on life and - more importantly - death aren't as much in evidence this time around. Instead, we get a suspense/chase book featuring Denton and Paolo, Paolo's girlfriend(?), Denton's possible girlfriend/Paolo's older sister and Denton's older brother. Add two wacky mothers, a government conspiracy or two and some implausible escapes and stir. The goodness is that sprinkled in both books are some interesting thoughts about life, death, birth and what we can/should do (or know) about each.

ARC provided by publisher.

After the Fall; Kate Hart

After the FallAfter the Fall by Kate Hart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Incredibly predictable - no character and no plot point surprised me. Not sure that will matter to the teens reading this, though.

Raychel ("Raych" to her friends) leads a very working class life, except that she's BFF's and almost a member of Andrew's family. Her reputation is that of a semi-slut who only does college men, while Andrew pines from not-so-afar. And then there's Matthew, Andrew's somewhat annoying not-that-much-younger brother. Fans of love triangles can see where this is going, at least in Part One. Part Two deals with the aftermath (no spoilers) and how lives can change in an instant, while at the same time remaining remarkably the same.

ARC provided by publisher.

18 February 2017

Frogkisser; Garth Nix

Frogkisser!Frogkisser! by Garth Nix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never thought I'd read a Garth Nix book and think, he's channeling Terry Pratchett, but... he did. He is. And it's delightful. (Nix also has touches of Patricia Wrede and others, just adding to the yumminess).

This is sort of a fractured fairy tale, with elements we know thrown in in unusual ways. Snow White makes an appearance, there are many heralds named Gerald (it's a thing), far too many frogs to be kissed, flying carpets, dwarves, evil stepstepfathers and so. much. more. And I can't believe I'm saying this but, more please. I love this world - I actually forced myself to stay up and finish this book rather than waiting until the next day.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Hanging Valley; Peter Robinson

The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)The Hanging Valley by Peter Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When authors create realistic landscapes and villages it's annoying because I want to visit... and I can't. The world Robinson has created for Banks is based on reality, but isn't quite. Pout.

This one took a little more suspension of belief for me: the old, unsolved murder and disappearance were fine, as was the one that started the book. But the second? I'm not sure I believed it as much. And the close-lipped natives sometimes felt put there so that the murder wasn't easily solved rather than simply how the town was. It was also a little unclear how big Swainshead really was. A few hundred people? A few thousand? Under a hundred? Banks' trip to Toronto is fun, however, as is his incomprehension about baseball.