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Monday, October 15, 2012

A Cure for Your Book Cravings: Part II

Hey guys! A quick reminder before I dive into two more book reviews: the YA Book Club will be talking about Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys two weeks from today, October 29. If you want to join in, there’s still time to read.

Okay, moving on. Today I have two more books I think you’ll like. Let’s start by going over which book craving they’ll fill—then get down to business.

You feel like: Mystery, romance, and a fun contemporary
Try: Torched by Andrea Lynn Colt

Rose Whitfield's senior year just went up in smoke. Instead of having a blast with her best friend, her cheerleading squad, and her boyfriend Ryan, she's framed for arson. Popularity and criminal records don't mix, apparently. 
Luckily, Rose knows who's framing her: Paxton Callaway. Paxton and Rose have spent years locked in a war of practical jokes. This time he's gone too far. Rose sets out to prove her innocence, win Ryan back, and take Paxton down hard. 
Not necessarily in that order.
Full disclosure: Andrea is a friend, though I wouldn’t review her book here unless I really liked it. Which I did. (Also, if you buy books based on their authors’ personality, you should totally pick this up since she is so sweet and wonderful and all-around lovely.) But this is a review of Torched, not Andrea. I’ll admit, the biggest reason I picked up this book is because the premise hooked me completely. I mean, a cheerleader who’s suspected of arson and needs to solve the mystery? Yes. Yes, please.

Rose is a fun narrator with a sharp wit. I knew I was going to like this after the first paragraph:
Usually you feel flames before they burn you. You smell them: the post-Homecoming bonfire in the woods, the love letters in a trash can, the cookies forgotten in the oven (which is also what grounded for two weeks smells like, by the way).
The mystery is well done—I had no idea who framed Rose—and loved that Rose realy stood up for herself. But the best part of the story? The love-hate relationship between Rose and her neighbor and arch nemesis Paxton. The two spend most of their time volleying practical jokes, which is why Rose suspects Paxton is behind her recent arrest. That relationship is enjoyable to read, but what I really loved was the slow-building romance between the two. I can’t tell you which kept me flipping pages way past my bedtime: the arsonist mystery or the question of romance. I suspect a little of both.

You feel like: Sci-fi, lush setting, forbidden romance
Try: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life. 
Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.
Origin was another book that hooked me with a one-sentence summary. And on a whole, I really did like the book. But I’ll be honest: For some reason it took me a while to get into the story. (Though most reviews I’ve read have said the opposite.) Even so, the world Khoury created was so vibrant that I wanted to read to the end if for nothing else but to experience the setting longer. It’s one of those books I’ll turn back to when I’m looking for tips on world-building.

Though the romance didn’t grab me, the rest of the plot did. There’s a mystery here—how this immortal girl was created and what evil lurks in these labs—that held my interest to the last page. I like a book that will make me think, and that’s an area where Origin excels. Within this story of a naïve, immortal girl learning who she is and what she believes in bigger questions arise: How far is too far? What price are we willing to pay for progress? Are some lives worth more than others?

What have you been reading?

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