Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snow Day Smiles: Blizzard Edition!

I'm hoping to get back to reading and reviewing regularly in 2014.  I've finished two books so far this year, which is not bad, but in the rush of "vacation is over, back to school" I forgot to post on Sunday.

Then we got a blizzard.

And so no sooner had we gone back to school than we got not one but TWO snow days!  And really, immediately post-vacation is a great time for snow days, because  there's always something left over that didn't get done on vacation. 

Anyway, here's what I've read so far this year!  

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It feels silly to review this because who could possibly have read Unspoken and not be dying to read Untold? If you haven't read Unspoken and you enjoy romance, laughter, creepiness, or emotions, go read that and then this review will be totally unnecessary because you'll already be on your way out to buy Untold. But if you are somehow on the fence: yes, this is as good as I had hoped it would be and the late-in-the-game twists had me gasping in shock even more than the twists toward the end of Unspoken. Plus, this one has some really excellent kissing. REALLY excellent.

Control (Control, #1)Control by Lydia Kang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This exciting debut from author/blogger/ACTUAL MEDICAL DOCTOR Lydia Kang (whose blog I've been following for a few years now, so I guess I should note that I "know" her in that weird blogging community kind of way, and I think she's great) has all the action (both fighting and kissing!) and suspense I've come to expect from a sci-fi futuristic thriller. It also has a meticulous world-building and a totally non-threatening and fascinating amount of science. A lot of people are talking about the science stuff because Lydia's a doctor--all I can say there is that I found it really interesting and that everything I needed to understand was explained in a way that made perfect sense. I want to shout out the political background of the world itself, though, because the setting felt so plausible. As best I can tell, the US has fractured into a loose coalition of nation-states, with a few states fused together to makes up each one, based on shared beliefs and value systems. This isn't a huge part of the plot or anything, but I was intrigued whenever I got a glimpse of the differences between states.

But you don't want to hear about the political background; you want to hear about the characters! And they do not disappoint. Zelia, the protagonist, broke my heart for a lot of the book. At first I was a little frustrated with her (not as a character, as a person): her father raised her to follow every rule, obey his whims about her courses of study and even her interests, and only try new things if she was likely to succeed. I just wanted to shout "NO NO NO DO THE OPPOSITE OF THAT!" As the story unfolded, more and more context was added, and Zelia started to grow and change in little steps that felt very realistic. I think the highest praise I can give is that Zelia feels like a teenage girl in an extraordinary situation...which means that she is sometimes extremely impressive and sometimes doesn't have great judgement. There were times when I could see a little farther than her, and times when she and I were taken completely by surprise together.

The supporting cast was also great; I don't want to say too much about them or give anything away, but there are a few characters who had relatively less page-time in this book that I hope to see more of in the next! I will say that I think the genetic differences in many of those characters were well-thought-out: some were more helpful or attractive than others; some were hard for Zelia to look at or be around at first; they all required a great deal of work to understand and more to turn them into something useful to others.

While I will admit that I've been excited for this book for a long time because Lydia wrote it, I can now properly recommend it on its own merits. Science+action+family+oh yeah did I mention kissing? Check it out!

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  1. I loved UNTOLD too. As soon as I finished UNSPOKEN I gave my Amazon Prime trial a go and ordered the sequel (because I was impatient for it, of course). Now we just have to wait forever for the next book. :/ I still need to read CONTROL, and after reading your review I think that will happen sooner rather than later. Thanks for the rec! Oh, and enjoy your snow days!

  2. UNTOLD was such a great follow up to UNSPOKEN. I love the whole atmosphere of Sorry-in-the-Vale (it reminds me of Godric's Hollow with a touch of THE SECRET GARDEN), and you're right about the kissing. I have to confess to rereading one particular kissing scene because it was just that good. I'm sure you know the one I mean. Definitely excellent.

    CONTROL was on my Debut Author Challenge list for 2013 (which I'm behind on). I'm so glad you enjoyed it because I was hoping it would be good. Your review has me even more intrigued now. I think I might have to add that one to the list of books I'll purchase with Christmas money.

    Snow days are the best! I'm glad you got to extend your holiday a bit!

  3. The blizzard hit us in CT too, and I was happy to have a work snow day on Friday.

    I haven't read UNSPOKEN but now I'm intrigued! I'm really excited to read CONTROL. Lydia Kang is awesome.

    Stay warm! :)


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