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Review: Giftchild by Janci Patterson

5 stars: It was amazing!

Giftchild cover (link to Goodreads)

Background: When we were in college, Janci and I were in a writing group together briefly. I knew as soon as I read her writing that she was going to be published someday, and she did get her big-five book deal a few years ago. Unfortunately, the marketing and cover art were bungled, making the book look like a romance when it definitely wasn’t, and the book flopped. Anyway. Her debut is good, so maybe you’ll like it too (Chasing the Skip). She’s been indie publishing ever since, though still working with her agent to get another book deal through a major publisher.

I’ve been reading Janci’s books ever since. I got this one for Christmas 2017, but since I rarely have time to sit and read, I hadn’t picked it up yet. When I finally had a sick day, I burned through the whole book in less than 24 hours. I was completely hooked. I mean, this character is a MESS. She’s a teen, and she makes VERY BAD DECISIONS for what she thinks are VERY GOOD REASONS, and it’s a bit of a train wreck, but I couldn’t look away. It was utterly gripping and heartbreaking and deep. My favorite Janci book to date, in other words.

Do note that the main character’s goal is to get pregnant, which obviously involves sex, but it’s not shown on the page.

Review: Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

5 stars: It was amazing!

Bob cover (link to Goodreads)

I love when reading a middle grade feels like hanging out with real kids. I love when middle grade is funny and heartfelt and earnest and exciting. This one ticked all the boxes for me. I didn’t miss that this is the second book by Rebecca Stead that I loved, and I noticed after reading that Wendy Mass is the author of a book my oldest son loved and read twice. I guess that’s going on my to-read list! This book would be appropriate for pretty much any kid old enough to listen to a novel.

Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

4 stars: I really liked it.

Mirage cover (link to Goodreads)

This book surprised me. In some ways it feels familiar (court intrigue, forbidden romance, evil empire vs. rebellion), what’s really great about it is what it says about colonialism (the setting is based on historical Morocco) and the complex characters who fill the two starring roles. Maram is the cold, cruel princess, and Amani is her slave/body double. Despite the princess, the balls, etc., this is actually a space opera, not a fantasy. The story sizzles as Maram and Amani get gradually more familiar with one another and realize that things are not as simple as they seemed at first. The romance beween Maram and Amani’s fiance is well done also. I enjoyed the difficult decisions Amani was forced to make over the course of the book and the way the book made me think. Recommended.

Review: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

4 stars

Blood Water Paint cover (link to Goodreads)

This is a novel told in verse based on the true story of painter Artemesia Gentileschi. It’s beautifully written and raw and harrowing. While Artemesia was a teenaged painter of no small skill (you can look up her paintings, but be warned that some of them are rather gory), she was raped by her tutor. The story that follows is almost unbelievable. Artemesia is a courageous heroine, and her story is well worth reading.

Not 5 stars only because this isn’t my favorite genre in general and because the message was a little overt for my tastes. I would also only recommend it for older teens who can handle the heavy subject matter.

Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3 stars: I liked it.

Obsidio cover (link to Goodreads)

So . . . I love this series. This one had more of what I love, including fun teen romance, lots of sci-fi mayhem, impossible odds, and sky-high stakes. AIDEN continues to be creepy and chaotic neutral. I liked that our beloved heroes of previous books get time on the page in this final book. But . . .

And I know I’m alone in this judging by the 4.56 star rating over on Goodreads . . .

I’m tired of AIDEN being the deus ex machina in each of these books. He’s just so powerful and so willing to do what it takes, regardless of the cost, that it takes some of the power to save the day away from our other protagonists. And in this book, it became more of a problem. I’m not sure how the authors would have solved the incredible problems without AIDEN, though.