This was a two-book week--we're in the last big push at school with things like awards nights and final projects, and I feel like I've slept about ten hours this week. It is a little more than that...but I definitely found myself nodding off during some of my subway reading time. I have a fair amount of ground to make up over the summer if I want to meet my 150-book target (what kind of crazy person came up with that number in January???)
What I Read This Week:
Venom by Fiona Paul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Awww, YA boys. I never fall for the one I'm supposed to. In Venom, Fiona Paul has created a great example of the kind of artsy, edgy "bad boy" that I just know the entire internets will soon be swooning over. Falco is great, and I'm definitely intrigued by him. But you'll be reading all about him in a million reviews soon enough. I want to talk about Luca.
From the minute I learned that our heroine, Cass, was betrothed to a guy she had known in childhood but who she dismissed as "boring", I knew I had found my rooting interest in this book. "Boring" in YA is often code for "sweet, thoughtful, and unlikely to be regularly in mortal peril." I don't know about y'all, but that's way more my type. And Luca does not disappoint. He takes care of Cass and makes her laugh...and he's even got some secrets and mystery, about which I really hope more in the next book.
I also really liked the female characters--Cass, Mada, Agnese, and Siena being the principals. Cass is generally a sympathetic heroine, although I found myself a little frustrated at times with some of her choices. Agnese, Cass's elderly widowed aunt, struck a nice balance between being the strict old lady and being someone who had lived a full life (another piece of this story I want more of!). Cass only really has two young women in her life--her friend Mada and her lady's maid Siena. Mada is wealthy and often a bit self-centered, but she is redeemed by how much she really loves her fiance. And Siena, who seems like a bit of a sad sack at the beginning, really grew on me as I got to know her better.
In short, if you're a fan of historical romance, or mystery and intrigue, or Venice, or Renaissance ideas about religion and science, you'll add this to your list and look forward to October, when this fun little number comes out!
**Disclosure: I won an ARC from the YAMazing Race, organized by The Apocalypsies. This is my honest review of the book.**
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The voice! The pacing! The ending! I really enjoyed Monument 14, and this is another one I think my students will get really into. It's a quick, engaging read about a group of kids and teenagers stuck inside some kind of superstore during a series of natural and chemical disasters. It reminded me of Michael Grant's Gone series and The Girl Who Owned A City by O. T. Nelson. I've seen some other reviewers who weren't so keen on the voice of the protagonist, Dean, but I thought it felt just right, age-wise. It was also frequently funny and even more frequently kind of heart-breaking, especially in a few key moments toward the end. I liked the inclusion of the little kids, who were a pretty accurate mix if my days of being a summer camp bus monitor are any indication, and I liked Dean's evolving feelings about them. And the ending just sits up and begs for a sequel, which I'm sure is underway. If you're a fan of survival stories, or if you've ever dreamed of living in a Target superstore, check this out when it hits shelves on June 5th.
**Disclosure: I received a free advance Kindle copy of this book through NetGalley.**
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