Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

5 stars (It was amazing!)

This was book 2 on my read-YA-science-fiction-with-male-protagonists list, and it did not disappoint. It did remind me in feel of the Illuminae Files series, so if you like that, maybe check this out. And if you don’t like that, then maybe this won’t be for you either.

Is this book going to change the world? Absolutely not. Was the romance swoony and believable? Oh yes. I loved watching the two leads gradually increasing in respect for one another, which slowly developed into love. The plot also kept surprising me, and a series of twists blew my mind.

It’s fun science fiction and fun romance. The YA voice is just right. I’m not sure it would be the sort of thing my 13 year old son would love at this moment in his life, but maybe it would be. Who knows?

There is a pretty tame sex scene, so I guess parents should know about that.

Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

5 stars (I loved it).

Like The Hate U Give, this book centered on a fully realized character and her choices. Like The Hate U Give, it handles racial issues with grace and power and authenticity. Like The Hate U Give, the moment when the main character truly finds out who she is and what she needs to stand for, it’s explosive.

You should absolutely read it.

That said, be prepared for a main character who isn’t as easy to like as Starr was. She’s flawed and stubborn and complex, and that’s a lot of what I liked about her, but you should be prepared going in for a story that is less . . . I don’t know if “heartwarming” is the right word for The Hate U Give, but you get the idea.

Angie Thomas, though . . . she’s a force. I am blown away by her phenomenal talent. And once again, I was blown away by Bahni Turpin’s narration.

(Do note that, once again, there’s a fair amount of swearing.)

Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

4 stars (I really liked it).

Children of Blood and Bone cover (link to Goodreads)

If you haven’t heard of this book, you haven’t been paying attention to book hype the last few years. As a west-African-based fantasy about systemic oppression, it is an important book, a book that is doing what few other books are. And for the most part, it does it well. The plot clips along at a good pace, the writing is strong, the conflict is compelling. I had issues with the romance, though I might come around to it in a sequel or two . . .

For me personally, it was a bit dark and violent. But lots of people like dark, and I’m not opposed to it in small doses (like, reading one book but not diving immediately into the sequel, for example). I’d probably recommend this to older YA readers and adults for this reason.

I listened to the audiobook, and Bahni Turpin is as amazing in this as she is in The Hate U Give. Her versatility is unbelievable.

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 I was right! Her debut is good, so maybe you’ll like it too (Chasing the Skip). Just don’t expect a romance.

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 reading it felt a bit like watching 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: 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.