November 25, 2013

I'm Back—and Catching Up Once and for All

By "once and for all," that probably means "for the time being," if I'm truly honest with myself. But still: my goal with today's post is to carry over that amazing sense of completion that I'm still riding high on after YES! TURNING IN MY REWRITE! I would so love to enter the holidays and the new year with at least the illusion that I'm on top of things, instead of the feeling that I'm scrambling just to get through the day-to-day stuff. That's a bad feeling. That is a feeling that gives me hives if I don't address it for months on end, which has happened before. So. To that end—and with my ghost story put to bed for the time being—I present you with some Reviews in Brief.

Why in brief? Simple: I need to start fresh. I need, actually, to completely rethink the way I write about books (this is not going to come as a surprise to those of you who have read my previous posts on burnout). Part of that moving forward, for me, includes meeting a totally self-imposed responsibility of at least mentioning the books that were noteworthy for me over the past few months that I've been unable to review regularly. Going forward—I'm not sure yet, but I'll be figuring it out very shortly. Anyway, some Reviews in Brief. (As opposed to Reviews in Boxers…just kidding.) Part II to come on Turkey Day for your comatose reading pleasure.

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey. Really riveting page-turner about alien invasion. Highly, highly recommended, couldn't put it down, yadda yadda. If you like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, it's a great addition to the genre. Lots of twists I couldn't predict (which I love), and best of all, it's only book one! Yay! I tend to have mixed feelings about alien invasion plots, because so many rely on overused tropes that I don't find all that compelling in the first place, but Yancey has come up with a fascinating twist on the invasion scenario itself (not to mention how the characters have to cope), and you'll keep reading just to find out what Waves 1 through 4 were (which is part of the whole mystery). Go! Read! Now! Also, Rick Yancey, hurry up and write more!
Review copy source: Library e-book | Buy from Indiebound

Yesterday, by C.K. Kelly Martin. I've been itching to read this one, and bought it on my Kindle earlier this fall. CK is an online friend/author buddy and past Cybils finalist for I Know It's Over (reviewed here). That one was realistic fiction and this one's dystopian sci-fi—radically different genres, but in both books she shows an amazing sensitivity for character. Yesterday has a time-travel element and also one of those futuristic settings that's all-too-imaginable, and then there's the run-for-your-life suspense angle…very intriguing. It did leave me with some questions here and there of the "but wait a second" variety, but overall, an ambitious story, and I'll be looking for Book 2.
Review copy source: Purchased e-book | Buy from Indiebound

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell. Historical fiction! I was putting off this one, which I had received an ARC for ages ago, because I go through these moods where I'm totally into historical fiction, and I hadn't had one of those moods in a while. (Okay, I did, but they were completely occupied by the Bloody Jack books.) Anyway, in this one, protagonist Kit Corrigan is a 16-year-old chorus girl in 1950s New York, lied about her age to get her sketchy job, and even more sketchy, she's made what may perhaps be a devil's bargain with the mobster father of her on-again, off-again boyfriend. It's fun and suspenseful, and Kit's choices are realistically flawed, making her a relatable narrator and making the story much more than just "mobster fiction." I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought, and I was willing to go along for the ride even when the situations weren't as credible as they could have been.
Review copy source: Publisher ARC | Buy from Indiebound

Stained by Cheryl Rainfield. Cheryl's books fit well into that category gatekeepers tend to call the "problem novel"—but that does not, by any means, indicate that they are teachy or preachy or didactic in any way. You FEEL for her characters, they are sensitive and real and show so much growth and heart. Stained was an incredibly suspenseful story of kidnapping and escape on top of being a book about narrator Sarah's own internal journey of learning to love and forgive herself and extend that compassion to those people who are important to her. The love story angle, with geeky but goodhearted Nick, was as heartwarming as the kidnapping aspect was disturbing and awful. With the idea of inner beauty and strength as an overarching theme connecting everything, beginning with Sarah's port-wine stain and obsession with attractiveness and extending throughout the story, it's not only well constructed but meaningful. The author's own love and compassion for her readers is visible in the writing as well.
Review copy source: ARC from Author | Buy from Indiebound


Jen Robinson said...

Congratulations on turning in your rewrite, and on moving the blog forward. I loved The 5th Wave, too! And Yesterday.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Thanks, Jen! I am SO happy to have the rewrite turned in. It was starting to drive me a little crazy!

Charlotte said...

congrats from me too!

And I found your short book notes very useful, and I am adding Yesterday to my Must Read list.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Thanks, Charlotte! Glad the list was helpful. More to come tomorrow!