Review: Savvy by Ingrid Law

4 stars.

A surprisingly similar book to A Snicker of Magic but with less hype (at least that I’ve seen), this is the story of a family with a magical secret: they all get a savvy, or magical ability, on their 13th birthday. It manifests in a way that can be explosive and dangerous, so 13th birthdays are private affairs far from civilization, and the kids’ teen years are spent homeschooling and trying to get the savvy under control. But because the MC’s dad has had an accident and is in a coma, the MC ends up on an adventure with her siblings and some other kids, unsure of what her savvy is or how to solve the problems she faces. It’s got a southern flavor and a unique voice, and I liked how it always kept me guessing. This is also a decent comp title for my book.

Review: A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

3 stars.

A Snicker of Magic

I chose this book because it showed up on a lot of agents’ lists of favorite books. Turns out it’s similar in ways to mine, so yay, comp title that lots of agents like! The plot follows a family that has been traveling from place to place every few months for their entire lives. Now they’re coming “home” to a town that used to have magic but apparently doesn’t anymore. But things start to wake up in little snickers of magic, the town comes together, the family finds a way to put down roots, etc. The writing style felt a little manically cute to me, and that’s very not my thing. I also found parts predictable and the main character kind of forgettable. Ultimately, I did like it and finish it, so I’m clearly downselling it too much.

Review: Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

 

4 stars.

Counting by 7s

Again, I read this book because of glowing recommendations on Twitter. I did like it. I didn’t love it. Contemporary middle grade, it’s the story of a twelve-year-old genius whose adopted parents die suddenly, after which an assortment of misfits takes her in. There’s a Vietnamese family at the heart of it, and they are wonderful. There is also a loser guidance counselor, who becomes a bit less of a loser as time goes on. I can’t really say more without spoiling things. 

I guess the part I struggled with was that the main character doesn’t need to be a genius to make the story work, and making her a genius felt a little cliche and also not as well done as the rest. I don’t know. 

Review: A Million Shadows by Janci Patterson

4 stars.

A Million Shadows
Link to Goodreads

This is the sequel to A Thousand Faces, which is about a family of shapeshifters for hire in modern Los Angeles. The main character is their teenage daughter, who ends up in a lot of trouble when her parents go missing while on a corporate espionage mission. There’s romance that I thought was extremely well done. Anyway, that was the first book.

Now, in the second book, the MC is basically on her own, with potential enemies hiding in every shadow. It was still good, but for some reason, I didn’t get sucked in in the same way. Maybe it’s unfair to this book that I read it soon after The Girl Who Drank the Moon and directly before When You Reach Me, which were both some of my favorite books I’d read in a while, so I compared it with them. I will finish the series for sure.

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3.5 stars.

Illuminae

I heard so many amazing things about this book on Twitter that I gave it a shot. At first it seemed like exactly my thing: a cross between Battlestar Galactica and 2001, with space zombies thrown in. It moved at a breathless pace pretty much from beginning to end. There was a lot to like. But a lot of it felt derivative. And the teenaged main characters’ romance was . . . a teen romance. I’m sure if I was a teen I would have liked it more. As a 34-year-old, it was sometimes cute and sometimes not so much. There was a side character who was so off-putting that I almost stopped listening* at that point. But *spoiler* he died soon after, so . . . 

Notes: *The format is unique. It’s supposed to be a compilation of documents, recordings, communications, etc., thrown together, and you figure out the story between the lines. Apparently it’s beautifully done. I listened to the book, so I can’t vouch for that, but the audiobook was extremely well done as well. There was a full cast, as well as atmospheric noises, so it almost felt like listening to a movie. I can’t imagine trying to convert such a book to audio without going that far, though, because it would have been impossible to follow otherwise.

Also, while all swearing in the book is censored, there is a lot of it. If you don’t want your kids reading stuff like “What the f*** were you thinking?” maybe this isn’t the book for you/them.