Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cybils: SF/F YA Lightning Round N-Z

The final round: A selection of quick blurbs about some titles starting with N-Z. Books marked with a * are my favorites in this list. My favorites don't necessarily reflect any discussions or preferences of the other first round Cybils judges--nor do they represent any opinions but my own.

*Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2)
Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry
If you liked White Cat, this is White Cat=n, and n+1. Red Glove's magical mafia/con/noir is built on the events of White Cat, and a complete story arc on its own, like book 1 was. Nobody else is doing this kind of stuff, and you should read it.

Mandy Hubbard
I have been getting angry about books set in Washington since Twilight. I am a sucker for books that read like the author has at least visited. Handily, Mandy Hubbard has, and then some. Ripple is a romance about a girl who's coming to terms with being a Siren, and what that means for her love life.

Slice of Cherry
Dia Reeves
Simon Pulse
I am always weirded out by Dia Reeves' books, and super glad she's writing them. Slice of Cherry is set in Portero, like Bleeding Violet was, and about two sisters who go for a horror-novel style of vigilante justice. Good, evil, and the veil between the real and maybe-not world all come into play. Actually, given how much my generation loved stuff like Evil Dead1, I'm surprised that this kind of thing hasn't caught on among YA authors.

1. Please note that I think Evil Dead is a really barfy movie, however.

*Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
ed. Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Candlewick Press
The cover of this book is not all that compelling, even for steampunk fans, but don't judge. I was spoiled as a kid by extensive access to Windling/Datlow anthologies, and so I expect short story collections to get down and deliver--to deliver stories that I love or love to hate, that feel perfect or unsettling, and that offer something in a small package. While I'm pretty open-minded about the structure of short stories, a lot of anthologies miss the mark, including stuff clearly meant to be filler, advertisement, or worse, stuff that just cut off due to a time crunch. My favorite story in the bunch was This anthology focuses on taking steampunk away--temporally and physically--from Victorian England. Libba Bray's old West gang of girl bandits and, erm, clockmaker-physicists was my favorite, but I found nearly all to be strong stories.

Karen Sandler
Lee and Low (Tu Books)
Tankborn, one of the first outings from newbie imprint Tu Books, is also one that I've struggled to write about. The review on Parenthetical says what I would have said, kinda. I thought it needed some more beginning and some more time on friendship; I was thrilled to have some dystopia that felt like it wasn't pulled out of a hat.

*Texas Gothic
Rosemary Clement-Moore
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers 
Amy (Amaryllis) and Phin (Delphinium) are spending the summer house-sitting--tiny ranch-sitting--for their aunt. Amy's the grounded one, and Phin's the mad magical scientist. They can't help getting involved when a ghostly legend swirls into real-life injuries following a nearby archeological find, and it turns out that Amy might be pretty good at communing with the dead. And there's a cute cowboy next door.

The Boy from Ilysies (Libyrinth)
Pearl North
Tor Teen
I didn't read Librynth, the first book in this series, but The Boy from Ilysies has prompted me to go back and read more soon. What grabbed me was how this flips gender roles and expectations in a way that doesn't often find a home in YA SF/F.

*The False Princess
Eilis O'Neal
Egmont USA
Nalia's life is just fine until her parents tell her she's the girl who was swapped in for their daughter at birth. A prophecy predicted that the king and queen's daughter would come to harm before her sixteenth birthday--and now that the danger has passed, Nalia can take up her old name and clear out so the princess can come home. Adjusting to a new and harsher life is one thing, but Nalia suspects that the danger isn't over, and that there may be more imposters in the palace. P.S. Nalia has to change her name, of course, and give the old one to the princess, but for the purposes of this blurb, that's all you need to know.

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1)
Kelly Armstrong
Maya's paw-print birthmark might have something to do with all the mountain lions hanging around. Or maybe it has something to do with the creepy company town where she lives. Or part of her heritage that she thought was legend. Whatever it is, it's dangerous, and people are dying, and Maya's not sure whether to trust her old friend Daniel or Rafe, the new-in-town bad boy.

*The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
I reviewed this here. I LIKED IT A LOT GO READ IT.

*The Name of the Star (Shades of London)
Maureen Johnson
Putnam Juvenile
Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux moves to London, goes to boarding school, gets some culture shock--and finds out that she has unique skills that might help her solve the string of copycat Jack the Ripper murders happening in her neighborhood.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Simon & Schuster
Mara can't remember what killed her friends. They went to a house, one night. And now she lives in Florida, and she's not sure what she sees, half the time. Is it real, or is it her imagination? Why is she losing big chunks of time? The story is a slow burn, but very atmospheric and creepy.

*The Vespertine
Saundra Mitchell
This is like if you crossed the Luxe books with A Drowned Maiden's Hair, except there's no scam involved. Is she seeing a terrible future, or is she causing a terrible future?

And that's it for this year. I'm sorry that I'm not able to review everything I read. Sometimes, I just don't have anything to add to what's out there about a book, or I read it a long time ago and need to reread before I can give a thoughtful review, or whatever. Now you: go forth, read, and gobble up stories in the new year.


  1. I ended up really like Ripple. There are waaay too many paranormal romances out there, but this one was different enough that I was pleased.

  2. Exactly! I often say that I don't like paranormal romance, but that's not really true; it's more that I think there is a glut of sameness.


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