Children of the Fleet, by Orson Scott Card: It’s been quite a while since OSC really impressed me with a book, and this is yet another disappointment. It’s basically Ender’s Game, only not remotely close to the brilliance of that novel. It’s set at Fleet School, which is what Battle School has morphed into after the 3rd and final Formic War. The story features a completely unlikeable main character, Dabeet, and I had to really push myself to keep reading. Sad after the greatness of the original quartet, and even the first couple Shadow novels were quite enjoyable.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See: Despite some flaws, this is an excellent book. See is a bit too pedantic, shoehorning facts about the Akha tribe unnaturally into dialogue and description, but the story is strong enough to overcome that. The story follows a young girl, Li-yan, as she outgrows her community in a remote tea-growing village, and is eventually outcast when she becomes an unwed mother. VGR
An Unkindness of Magicians, by Kat Howard: Despite a tendency towards florid, overblown prose at times, this was an excellent story of a dark and ugly world of magic – one where magicians escape the pain of doing magic by using other people’s pain instead of their own. Every so often, the magical world has a Touring, a tournament of sorts to reshuffle the magical hierarchy. There is a lot going on, and a lot of characters, but I couldn’t put the book down. VGR
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee: This is a funny YA about a rebellious young lord, Monty, who is secretly in love with his best friend, Percy. Monty and Percy set off on a Grand Tour of Europe with Monty’s younger sister Felicity along, and they end up in all sorts of adventures and mysteries. It’s a fun romp that also flirts with some serious issues, but a lot of it is just ridiculous and over-the-top silliness.
Bad Romance, by Heather Demetrios: Well-done YA about a girl, Grace, who falls for the perfect guy – until he grows more and more possessive and manipulative. In the afterword, the author writes about her own experience in high school in a really bad relationship, and it’s clear that much of the novel is drawn from real life. Although painful to read at times, it illustrates clearly how easy it is to find yourself trapped in a very unhealthy relationship over time.
Royal Crush, by Meg Cabot: After the intensity of Bad Romance, I took a palate cleanser in the form of Cabot’s latest middle-grade novel. Olivia is a charming addition to Cabot’s world of Genovia, and in this book Olivia is dealing with new twin baby siblings and a Royal Winter Games Competition that her school is participating in.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Reid has hit a home-run with this novel. Aspiring journalist Monique has been granted an exclusive with aging Evelyn Hugo, who was a huge Hollywood star. Evelyn wants her to write her biography, and the book is divided into sections for each of Evelyn’s seven marriages. The novel is a total page-turner and I was completely immersed in the story of Evelyn’s life. VGR
Tortall: A Spy’s Guide, by Tamora Pierce: This is for diehard Pierce and Tortall fans only. It’s billed as a collection of documents found in the office of Tortall spymaster George Cooper. There are fun little tidbits here and there and a bit of fleshing out of previous stories, but some of it is pretty dry and I did skim quite a bit at times.
Without Merit, by Colleen Hoover: Hoover misses the mark a bit with her latest, featuring the quirky Voss family and centering around Merit Voss, a depressed teen who is hiding a lot of the family’s secrets. The book is all over the place and takes on a few too many issues, but it was still interesting and a fast read. Once the family secrets are outed, everything comes together a little too conveniently, and the romance is quite unbelievable.
Renegades, by Marissa Meyer: Fun new superhero/supervillain series by Meyer. The Renegades area group of superheroes who have restored order after a period of chaos. Nova, a member of the Anarchists, infiltrates the Renegades seeking vengeance for the death of her family, which she blames the Renegades for. VGR
Head Over Heels, by Jill Mansell: There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this novel, and some of them are quite unlikeable, but as usual Mansell provides fun and complex storylines and love mostly wins out in the end!
The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz: I’m not sure if I’ve ever read one of Koontz’s books before, only listened to a few. He’s not an amazing writer, but he is terrific at building exciting, compelling storylines. In The Silent Corner, he introduces a new heroine, Jane Hawk, who is running for her life while trying to untangle a massive conspiracy involving mind control. Jane is a badass, strong heroine, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
Far From the Tree, by Robin Benway: Strong new YA by Benway, and for most of the book it was a VGR for me, but the end was a little too pat and HEA. Grace, Maya, and Joaquin are siblings who have just discovered each other’s existence now that they are teenagers. Grace and Maya were adopted into separate families, and Joaquin bounced through the foster care system his entire life. They all have big secrets and problems, and the story of their lives and the finding of each other is lovely.
The Good Daughter, by Karin Slaughter: This is my first Slaughter novel, but it won’t be my last. This is a dark, twisty tale of a family destroyed by a horrible act of violence. When Samantha and Charlotte are teenagers, their mother is brutally murdered in front of them and they both go through hell before getting away from their assailants. Their past is dug up and eventually fully revealed when Charlie gets caught up in a school shooting. VGR