Sunday, July 6, 2014

BR: Under Different Stars, Amy A. Bartol

All she wants is a home, but can she find one...UNDER DIFFERENT STARS 

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home. 

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go. 

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket's gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own. 

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?  -- Back cover synopsis

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, it was good. And do you see that cover? GORGEOUS. 

It took me months of seeing Under Different Stars on my Recommended List to finally concede and read it, because I'm traditionally not a scifi girl. But am I ever glad I did! I'm starting to devour these YA scifi like they're going out of style. Which they're not. They're the hottest thing in YA right now, which is AWESOME.

So, yes, back to the book. I thought it was going to be some displaced alien story taking place in Chicago, but in fact, it was a displaced human story. For anyone who has read Amy A Bartol's Premonition series, you know that this woman comes up crazy plots that just keep surprising and drawing you in over and over. 

She's got some good stuff going on in her brain. 

The ONLY thing that bugged me? Kricket let her man physically carry her around a lot. I mean, I understand if you just fainted or are hurt, but it seemed like she was letting herself get tote around like a puppy. Which was weird, because she was a really independent character, that I liked a lot.

Otherwise, looooved. My newest guilty pleasure? I think so! Now we bite our nails and whine until the next book-- Sea of Stars-- comes about!

And don't even get me started on Iniquity. (WE'VE WAITED SO LONG...)

BR: Rain (Paper Gods #2), by Amanda Sun

American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.

When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend. 
-- Back cover

So... Rain. (Paper God #2). Sequel to Ink. By Amanda Sun.

See, the problem with taking so long to write a sequel is that the expectations from your audience get higher and higher the longer it takes to publish. Which, of course, isn't fair. But, you know, we're spoiled YA readers. Our expectations are for quick publications and each book better than the last!

Unfortunately, that's not what happened with Rain.

Was it good? Yes. Did it blow Ink out of the water? No. Did it finally clear up WHAT a Kami is and how the ink works? YES, finally.

Are there new relationships and characters introduced that enrich the story? Yes, which is one of the best parts of the book. Ishikawa takes his friendship with Tomo seriously again, and even Katie starts to tolerate him. Jun becomes a key player. And preggo whats-her-bucket comes and makes a mess out of everything. (Who IS that baby's daddy?! Why can't she go bother HIM?!)

Will there be another book to follow Rain? Yes. I'm trying not the get my hopes up. I'd rather be happily surprised than disappointed.

I still think this series is a great read simply for the Japanese culture. It's rich and vibrant, and frankly, I don't there is much-- if anything-- on the YA market set in Japan. Major props for that.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

BR: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

SINNER: The new Standalone follow up to the Maggie Stiefvater's award-winning Shiver trilogy, following my particularly favorite couple,the ever sassy Isabel and Cole St. Clair.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved? --Back Cover.

Opened to the first page: "But. The ink is black."

I didn't realize I was expecting the colored ink of the first 3 Shiver books, but when Sinner was plain black, I was deeply disappointed. Huh.

But: oooh, but. Does it ever make up for it in the story.

It's no secret that Maggie Stiefvater is one of my top three favorite authors. There's something about her writing that is so unique and refreshing that I can't find anywhere else. It's out of the box and cutting edge while being extremely accessible to YA. Her characters come alive in your mind and won't leave you alone. 

Having spent my entire life in Southern California, I highly appreciated the setting in LA, and the completely realistic descriptions of it. The relationships and characters are all the dynamic, multi-layered wonders that you expect from dear Maggie. The plot is amazing. Of course, involving both Cole and Isabel, it is full of sass and pain. As Ron Weasley once said, "You're going to suffer, but you're going to be happy about it.