Crosstalk by Connie Willis: I was so excited for this book–a new Connie Willis! And then, although I read the whole thing in one gulping evening, I ended up sadly disappointed. It had all the elements of her beloved books but it wasn’t cohesive. And most of all, I was bothered by the implications of the story. The romance; the pseudo-Irishness that didn’t succeed in it satire; the weird element of ethnic purity; the tired idea that we are all too connected. Ana’s review at The Book Smugglers sums up my feelings well.
Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: Talked about this one here!
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: I appreciate what this book is doing a lot–the sweeping, epic feel, the star-crossed romance across time and space, the lush and gorgeous prose. Chokshi engages with mythology and stories on several levels and in really interesting ways. I’m just not personally as drawn to the kind of romance and epic story that this is (which is true for several other well-loved books in a similar vein). This isn’t a book that is for me as a reader, but it is definitely one for lots of other readers out there.
Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff: review coming soon!
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern: I was curious about Ahern’s first YA book–I know she’s a respected adult author–and how it would read. I think she managed the transition to a different audience well. Her teenagers do read as teenagers and her take on dystopia is really strong and doesn’t pull punches. The last part of the book didn’t work quite as well for me, but overall I think this is one with a lot to chew on.
Something New by Lucy Knisley: Lovely story about Knisley’s romance and wedding. She weaves in a number of thoughts about marriage and dating and what that means in this day and age. While I differ on approach and belief in a number of areas, a lot of what she said also rang true to me. A great mix of charming and thoughtful.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: So strong on plotting and premise–three queens are always born as triplets, each with their own deadly gifts, but only one can rule–and yet oddly flat for me on characterization. The ending also felt less like an ending and more like a hook for the next book. However, that twist is interesting enough that I’ll probably try to read the next one when it comes out!
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds: I feel like this is just stating the obvious, but Reynolds is so, so good at voice. Everyone in this book feels like a real, distinct character, even though we get them all filtered through Gene’s perspective. And there’s also a great sense of what a kid would be concerned with, that neither talks down to the audience nor turns Gene into some ultra-wise prodigy. Thoughtful and nuanced, this is definitely one I’ll recommend.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab: I hate to admit it, but this one didn’t work nearly as well as I wanted it to. Mainly, it felt long. Once I reached a certain point, I felt much more interested and invested in the main characters. But I think if I hadn’t been reading for the Cybils, I likely would have put it down before I got there.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: This is now one of those books that I’m always re-reading in bits and pieces here and there. I noticed this time through how much of Maia’s journey is learning to live with the wounds of his past without acting in bitterness or letting them define him.
Goldenhand by Garth Nix: So, I love Sabriel and enjoyed the other earlier books about the Old Kingdom that I’ve read. I was intrigued by this one, especially since it sounded like it would tie together some of the strands from the other books. Which it did! And the story here is engaging enough. But I found my enjoyment hampered by two facts: I expected a depth and richness that I didn’t find here, and I think this book could have used another round of copy-editing. A small thing, and not Nix’s fault as such, but also jarring enough to bump me out of the story a couple of times.
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar: Eagar’s prose is really sharp and the interplay of the family history and Carol’s slow growth worked nicely. However, I think this one is on the long side. I don’t know if this is quite fair to the book, but I wanted a little more engagement with cultural and social issues as well–which I say mostly because I felt like they were almost present, or there in a kind of ghostly way, but not fully fleshed out.
The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters: review coming soon!
A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee: I absolutely loved 95% of this book–the characters! the historical details! the sense of landscape and setting! all the bits about learning to be who you really are! It’s thoughtful and sharp and lovely. However, I also have some questions about the way Kitty was portrayed, which seemed to use the Victorian trope of the pure, wild orphan child without pushing back much at the social problems that create that condition.