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.