YA Roundup: A Happy Alex!

19 Jan

Two books this week! And they were authors I know nothing about. It’s very exciting. One reminds me of Patricia C. Wrede and the other is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which given our culture’s obsession with beauty and inner-beauty is the fairy tale of our age. New takes on this familiar tale are always fun to read, especially those with strong voices.

For those new here, here’s the process:

  • I go to the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of Amazon Teen
    (sometimes I add in mainstream SFF titles if something catches my eye)
  • I download samples for all the new titles since the last time I did it
    (well, everything except novels about vampires, werewolves, zombies and/or angels)
  • I read the samples and decide whether I’ll read them or not.

All Just Glass by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes: Someone driving a car wishing to blank out what has just happened. Yes, good we’re right in the middle of something, but I don’t care about this girl who is hurt and driving too fast. This is one of those books where I can’t pinpoint why I don’t like it, but that’s the nature of reading. It’s highly subjective and in this case my subjectiveness says: Next!

Alice at Heart by Deborah Smith: Well, could be interesting. It seems to be about some sort of selkie/mermaid. The writing however doesn’t appeal to me. I had to read some sentences a couple of times to figure out what the author wanted to say. While I’m certain that this won’t be the case for everyone, if I have to work at getting meaning out of the sentences, then I don’t want to read it. I’m an escapist reader. Next!

Elysim Burning by DDD Bryenton: “DDD”? I’m hoping that’s an Amazon error because as a non-de-plume it’s about as appealing as drinking swamp water. Oh dear, a prologue and one that’s set at some time in the past which I sure could have been put into the story itself in an interesting way rather than setting it apart at the beginning. Next!

How to Slay a Dragon by Bill Allen: The book starts with a discussion of the main character’s name. Two lines that got me, the first and one two paragraphs later: “Greg Hart’s name had never caused him trouble before.” and “Problem was, for twelve years now Greg’s name may have simply been biding its time.” How could I not want to read more?

Test by William Sleator: This is a formatting thing I know, but if most Kindle books can manage to open up the sample at the first page fo the story, then it can’t be that hard. I might understand if it’s an indie-published book, but for one from a big name publisher? Not acceptable. And if you’re going to start the chapter with a large logo the first (and only) line of text (based on the font size I use for my Kindle) needs to be really catchy. “The first time the black motorcycle followed Ann on her way to school was a Wednesday in early May” is not a catchy opening. Next!

Slice of Cherry by Michael Frost and Dia Reeves: Really well written with strong voices and super sharp characterization. However the casual attitude to violence in the first few pages is just not my style. I’d recommend it to those who like that kind of thing though. But for me it gets a “Next!”

Belle by Cameron Dokey and Mahlon F. Craft: First person narrative and yet I wanted to download it as soon as I started reading. The book starts with a philosophical discussion of what’s beauty and a rather meandering description of how three sisters came into the world and got their names, and yet the voice is so compelling I can’t wait to find out what happens next despite already knowing the whole Beauty and the Beast story inside out.

Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer: First person narrative from the point of view of a girl who gets ridiculed for always wearing black. Even when I was a Goth as a teen I’d poke fun at the only-black Goths (by doing things like wearing purple tye-dyed jeans) so now, more than twenty years later, I’m not about to hang around long enough to get to know this latest black-only teen. Next!

Shadowspell by Jenna Black: More first person narration (when will this trend end?). I also think this book is a second book in a series based on how it starts and I don’t feel like trying to figure out what’s going on if it is. Next!

City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton: And the last book for today starts with a prologue in which a giant spider retches spiderwebs across a city. Beyond the obvious error (spidersilk doesn’t come out of a spider’s mouth) the language is too overdone for me to enjoy myself. Next!

Except there is no next.

See you next week!

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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Book Reviews


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