26 December 2017

The Window; Amelia Brunskill

The WindowThe Window by Amelia Brunskill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How well do you know your sibling? And if that sibling is your twin, shouldn't you know her even better than non-twin siblings? That's popular wisdom, right? Well, not so fast - apparently Jess doesn't know Anna as well as a twin is supposed to know her twin.

Of course, that's pretty par for any YA book about twins (or even adult books for that matter). And how Anna ultimately ended up falling from her bedroom window? Not all that surprising, or different. Still, despite that predictability, there are some really nice moments and when Jess realizes how others see her (which isn't how she thinks they see her and leads to something of a change) it's a great thing for teens to read. Because, really, isn't that true of all of us? We don't know or see how others perceive us and our actions and affect. If teens can recognize that, and do some self-reflection, that's great. Another good thing was the depiction of grief and how we all deal with it differently, despite the literature saying "here's how to grieve a loss".

ARC provided by publisher.

The Beauty That Remains, Ashley Woodfolk

The Beauty That RemainsThe Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Odd to read this just after The Window: both books include twin girls who have been "untwinned" (yes, it's a thing) and run track. Instead of one person grieving, here we have four, all bound together by their loss of someone somehow involved with the band Unraveling Lovely. They're a diverse group in just about any and all ways you can think of "diverse" and the author does a great job of making that feel natural, not an example of diversity because it's "in" or "cool". So yay for that!

But... the multiple POVs, the relatively stereotypical plots and subplots and character arcs? If only they'd felt as natural as the characters themselves.

ARC provided by publisher.

S.T.A.G.S. M.A. Bennett

S.T.A.G.S.S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Any story set in a British boarding school automatically grabs my interest, and has done since my childhood reading Enid Blyton and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. So points for that, to start. And this one, in one of those old (centuries old) schools with incredibly outdated uniforms and traditions, coupled with a fish-out-of-water student's experiences? Ok, let's go!

That's all the good stuff: the descriptions of the school, the students, the traditions, the Heritage That Is England stuff. The plot, and the characters, however, don't quite live up to that. They're predictable and oh so stereotypical, right down to the "plot twist" at the end. Sigh.

ARC provided by publisher.

Prettyboymustdie; Kimberly Reid

#Prettyboy Must Die#Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, really 3.5 stars. This is one of the better "boy agent" books (think: Boy Nobody, etc.) because it's not too implausible. Really!

So, why only 3.5 stars? I wanted more of Bunker (can we get a backstory, please??) and, well, Katie annoyed me. Yes, she's a strong female (possibly older than we think) but there was something so flat and implausible about her that got me. And yes, I know that the idea of a 16-year-old expert computer hacker who speaks six languages and has mad fighting skills isn't the most plausible idea out there. Still... Katie annoyed me.

ARC provided by publisher.

20 December 2017

In Her Skin; Kim Savage

In Her SkinIn Her Skin by Kim Savage
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've read similar stories before, and the best part of this was the Boston setting.

ARC provided by publisher.

I Stop Somewhere; T. E. Carter

I Stop SomewhereI Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Difficult read, more than The Lovely Bones (to which it's being compared). The casual brutality of what happens to Ellie and the lack of anyone except her father caring are equally difficult to read and process. In this day and age of #metoo, that fewer girls come forward will disturb readers - but this was clearly written before any of that started. Who knows what would happen now?

ARC provided by publisher.

When I Am Through With You; Stephanie Kuehn

When I Am Through with YouWhen I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A little too heavy-handed on the menace part, and the characters are far too one-dimensional but the mystery of how and why Ben kills Rose will keep teens reading.

ARC provided by publisher.

Wild Beauty; Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild BeautyWild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Magical realism mystery of sorts: the question of who (what?) the Nomeolvides women/girls are is never quite answered, but the impact of their lives on the estate of La Pradera is clear. Then Fel appears, disrupting their lives (and love of Bay) in ways they can't begin to imagine. While elements of the story felt very familiar, the way in which they're woven together is definitely fresh and different. The fact that the ending is a little open-ended is also nice, rather than explicitly tied in a nice bow for readers.

The Problim Children; Natalie Lloyd

The Problim ChildrenThe Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really cute use of the "Monday's child" poem! Each child was different enough, albeit in a rather stereotypical manner (Mona was particularly one-dimensional), not that target readers will mind. The mysteries of the bones, the Great Feud, who exactly is living next door, what caused the explosion and what happened to Grandfather Problim (among others) are all left just out of our reach, while others are resolved in the book. However, the abruptness of the ending? A little too "Series of Unfortunate Events"-esque. Perfect for those readers, ditto "Mysterious Benedict Society" lovers.

ARC provided by publisher.