Tuesday, January 1, 2013

50 YA & NA Novels

My goal again for 2013 is to read 50 Young Adult and/or New Adult novels but I have 5 to make up from 2012, so we're shooting for 55. Wish me luck!

1. The Maze Runner--James Dashner--(YA boy book)--true to form, I love dystopians again this year. This one had me hooked despite being a 'boy book.' I was not crazy about the cliffhanger ending--I felt like we didn't get enough resolution to the plot of book 1 for the sake of the mystery of the series. But as a consequence I'm also probably going to keep reading.

2. Losing It--Cora Carmack--(new adult contemporary)--okay, so maybe this is cheating because NA is not the same as YA, but since it was blogged about by a dozen different YA blogs as one of the best books of the year, I had to check it out. Read the whole damn schmexy thing in less than five hours. It just confirms that I need to dabble in this genre! Hmmm...can you say NaNoWriMo2013?

3. Under the Never Sky--Veronica Rossi--(YA dystopian)--Man, I know that dystopians are going out of style but I so wish they weren't. Loved this one. Can't wait to read Book 2 that's coming out later this month.

4. Renegade--J.A. Souders--(YA dystopian)--Another good dystopian. There was a lot to pick at about this one but it was still a fun read.

5. Beautiful Disaster--Jamie Maguire--(New Adult edgier-but-not-quite-edgy romance) The writing is not super fantastic (although I read the original and apparently there's an edited version now that's been cleaned up a bit), but the characters are engaging. Definitely a page turner! Looking forward to reading the companion novel when it comes out in April.

6. Cinder--Marissa Meyer--(YA retelling)--Really cool dystopian retelling of Cinderella. Retelling has been all the rage for a while but I haven't read any until now. This was a good one to start with. Looking forward to reading more in this series.

7. Through the Ever Night--Veronica Rossi--(YA dystopian)--Not as good as book 1 (above) but still a page turner. Looking forward to book 3!

8. Beautiful Creatures--Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl--(YA supernatural)--First and Foremost, it's impressive how not-obvious it was that this book had two authors. Also, the male narrator voice was done really well. Plot wise and pace wise, however, this moved really slowly for me. It took me a long time to get through it. In fairness, however, it had been seriously hyped up by a couple friends and I read it right as the movie was hitting theatres, so I think my expectations may have been unrealistic. Will get around to the other books but not itching to finish this series like I am some others.

9. Easy--Tammara Webber--(NA Romance)--There was a lot to like about this New Adult title. The love interest character was more complex than a lot in the NAs I've read so far. The MC was not completely hate-worthy (This really is a compliment from me because most NA main characters have made my eyes roll up toward the ceiling semi-permanently thus far.) I thought the plot and pace could have been a little more focused at times, but on the whole it was a good read.

10. From Ashes--Molly McAdams--(NA contemporary)--Can I just say "blargh" and leave it at that? For me, this was a classic example of the downfall of unlikable MCs. I didn't like any of the three main characters and didn't find myself rooting for any of them. Beyond that, it was just a little weird and codependent for my tastes. I think traditional swoony romance lovers will like this book, but I am not a fan of that genre personally. I need my MC chicas to have backbones.

11.How to Save a Life--Sara Zarr--(YA contemporary dual narrator)--I read this because a couple agents I was considering querying recommended it on their blogs. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it and can't decide whether I like it or not. I do know that I did not like the ending (though I will say nothing more than that due to the suckage that are spoilers.) It was emotionally provocative and a page turner. Jury's still out on whether I liked it, but I'm willing to read it again to find out!

12. Going Too Far--Jennifer Echols--Liked it A LOT. (YA? dark contemporary) Definitely loved the MC's secret and how it was revealed (no spoilers, promise.) I'm not sure it's appropriate for YA, though, even though the characters are high school. I felt like some of the language was catered more toward a college reader. Great read though!

13. The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden--Jessica Sorensen--(New adult contemp)--Another one I can't decide whether I like it, mostly because I felt like the ending was way too much of a cliffhanger. Especially where contemporary books are concerned, I like a clean break in my endings. Boo to cliffhangers!!

14. The Secret of Ella & Micha--Jessica Sorensen--(new adult contemp)--Not as good as the previous title I read by this author. Again not crazy about the cliffhanger ending, and I didn't really connect with the characters.

15. Daughter of Smoke and Bone--Laini Taylor--(YA fantasy)--So I added this to my list without knowing a thing about it at the suggestion of a CP. When I first started it, I really wasn't sure it was going to be the book for me. Angels and Demons are generally not my thing. But this was a page turner. The sexytimes were so sexy without even a hint of sex. Taylor has mastered the art of anticipation. Moving immediately on to book 2.

16. Days of Blood and Starlight--Laini Taylor (YA Fantasy)--why, why why must there be no news about the forthcoming third book in this series? WHYYYYY? For the first time in my reading history (I'm ashamed to admit this but it's true) I wikipedia'ed this ish half way through because I was terrified it was going to end so woefully that I would be a hot mess of chimera-loving tears. The ending is not exactly happy, but it isn't the kind that will make you want to cry the ugliest of cries either. I think it fits, and for me as a writer, illustrated the crucial importance of leaving your readers with hope.

17. It's Kind of a Funny Story--Ned Vizzini (YA Contemp)--Read this one at the recommendation of the incomparable Dahlia Adler (whose blog you should totes be following if you write YA, btw). Because it's about depression, I expected it to be, well, depressing. Parts of it are, but not in a way that makes reading it the fun equivalent of stabbing yourself in the eye with a pencil. A good YA contemp with a male MC, and I liked the voice.

18. Unbroken--Melody Grace (NA Contemp)--This feels a little sexually explicit for NA but still falls within the spectrum of this genre. I felt like it was a little predictable and that the tension could have been better built, and that the climactic scene could have been better executed. But still a fun read.

19. You Against Me--Jenny Downham (YA Contemp)--Not nearly as good as Before I Die, but still good. It took FOREVER to get started, the pace was entirely too slow at the beginning, but I liked the way the details of the female MC's knowledge were revealed and I think structurally it was nicely done.

20. The Selection--Kiera Cass (YA Dystopian)--Oh, Em, Gee! It's a YA version of The Bachelor!!! Soooo much fun to read. Thanks to Elana Roth from Red Tree Literary for doing the giveaway that landed this book in my hot little hands!! Really looking forward to the sequel that comes out later this month.

21. Requiem--Lauren Oliver (YA Dystopian)--*flips page, glares at back cover* *shakes book* Hmm...there seems to be something missing from this ending. Like, ya know, an ending. Are we sure this is just a trilogy? Is she saving the satisfying part for the TV series? A good read up until the missing denouement at the end!

22. Eleven Minutes--Megan Miranda (YA Magical Realism)--short companion to Fracture from Decker's POV! Love it!

23. Lola and the Boy Next Door--Stephanie Perkins (YA light Contemp)--there's so much to love about this novel I can even forgive the totally predictable ending. Even better than Anna and the French Kiss!!

24. The Crown of Embers--Rae Carson (YA Fantasy)--so good. I really love this series. Cannot wait for the final installment this fall!

25. Shades of Earth--Beth Revis (YA SciFi)--you guys, this is how final installments of trilogies should be written. Beth did everything right with this book. Everything! I'm off to read it eight more times!

26. Uses for Boys--Erica Lorraine (YA Contemp)--This book has been getting a lot of flack in my blog circle and on good reads for the MC being slutty to the point of unrelatable, but I wholeheartedly disagree. This one will get a full blog post on my other blog very soon, but suffice to say I think it's authenticity is beyond reproach.

27. Walking Disaster--Jamie Maguire (NA Contemp)--I was planning a thumbs up review up until the completely out of left field epilogue. And for the sake of being diplomatic I will leave it there.

28. Love and Leftovers--Sarah Tregay (YA Contemp in Verse)--so as a principle I dislike novels in verse. That said, this one was probably the best I've read. I love the overall message and there was a lot to like about the plot and characters. Good stuff!

29. Charade--Nyrae Dawn (NA Contemp)--I thought a lot of this could have been further developed and more detail-rich, but I enjoyed the story. The plot worked well and the last fifty pages or so totally caught me off guard, which I loved because it's so rare now that I read and write so much. 

30. The Edge of Never--J.A. Redmerski (NA Contemp)--Although the ending was a little too happy for me (just call me Dannie Downer), I did enjoy this read. The pace is good, the characters are just interesting enough to hold your attention, but what I liked most is that this is an NA book that does not take place in a college setting. I enjoyed the plot, too (because there actually IS one!) FYI--this one is on the graphic end of NA in terms of language.

31. Eleanor and Park--Rainbow Rowell (YA Contemp)--I'm going to buy an extra copy of this for when I read out the first. You guys, this book is as awesome as everyone says it is. For real. Especially if you are a child of the eighties or a comic book geek (or are in love with a comic book geek.) *le sigh* so much win here. For real. (Did I say 'for real' enough times for you?)

32. What a Boy Wants--Nyrae Dawn (YA Contemp)--a fun, quick read. Interesting to see a book with a female target reader, male MC and narrative voice, written by a female (I think?) author. 

33. What a Boy Needs--Nyrae Dawn--I was pleasantly surprised by this companion novel. I felt like it was more authentic and a richer story than its predecessor. Good stuff!

34. Shatter Me--Tahereh Mafi--this book grew on me so much as I was reading it. It took me a while to get into the voice, but once I did I was hooked. Not even pausing to sleep before moving on to the sequel.

35. Unravel Me--Tahereh Mafi--better even than book 1. Why oh why must I torture myself with incomplete series??

36. The Elite--Kiera Cass--speaking of incomplete series, this one is giving me whiplash! And I LOVE it!! Oh how long must I wait until book 3?? If you like #bachelorettesnark you must, must, MUST read this series.

37. Splintered--AG Howard--this is the first book I've followed online since query, though it took forever to get to the top of my TBR list. I really was not sure for probably the first half if I was going to like this read or not. But once I got into it I was hooked. And yay for stand alone YA Fantasy!!

38. Scarlet--Marissa Meyer--Cinder FTW! And we'll leave it at that. I did grow fond of Scarlet toward the end but it took too long. I was more eager to read more about Cinder and Kai than Scarlet and Wolf. Cinder's thread will make me pick up book three!

39. The Sky is Everwhyere--Jandy Nelson--Loved, loved, LOVED ALL THE WORDS. This book is so incredibly beautiful that while the story isn't necessarily that original (a girl goes through grief when her sister dies) it doesn't even matter. Loved the poetry. Loved the characters. Loved the outcome. LOVED. 

40. A Really Awesome Mess--Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin--ARC review forthcoming on this blog as part of Fangirl Friday. Stay tuned. 

41. Wild Cards--Simone Elkeles--ARC review forthcoming on this blog as part of Fangirl Friday. Stay tuned. 

42. Friday Night Alibi--Cassie Mae--ARC review forthcoming on this blog as part of Fangirl Friday

43. Faking It--Cora Carmack--In general, the whole companion novel thing feels like cheating to me, but this one's pretty good. And by good I mean steamy. A little predictable and trope-y for me though. 

44. Elegantly Wasted--C. Elizabeth Vescio--Liked this one way more than I expected to. A New Adult title that can stand on its own and doesn't rely on sex to fill the plot. 

45. Pushing the Limits--Katie McGarry--I heard a lot of buzz about this one before I read it, and I'm not sure it fulfills the prophecy. I did like the read, though, I'm not sure I'd be into the companion novel since I wasn't crazy about the character that will be its lead. 

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