Also Known As by Robin Benway
Review copy received from publisher
Also Known As is the story of Maggie Silver, expert safecracker and daughter of international spies who work for a mysterious organization known as the Collective. When Maggie is sent to New York with her family for her first solo assignment, she must navigate the most intimidating of covers – ordinary high school student!
Also Known As is a fun, light caper novel told with Benway’s trademark charm. She populates the novel with the quirky characters she excels at drawing and readers love reading. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced, clever dialogue and teen readers will likely find a lot to sympathize with as Maggie treads the fine and frustrating line between childhood and adulthood. Benway uses Maggie first solo spy assignment to her advantage in exploring the tension of a child’s evolution into an adult on her and on the family that still sees her as a child, as well. Maggie ping ponged back and forth a bit in her I-want-to-be-treated-like-an-adult-but-s
This novel is heavier on the character interactions and romance then it is on the spy hijinks (spy-jinks?). The spy plot is, perhaps, wrapped up a bit too neatly. There were also a couple of incidents from Maggie’s spy past that are referenced as significant, though I never felt like quite enough information was given for me to understand those incidents. Despite that, the charm of Maggie’s new friends and witty banter with her crush, Jesse, will delight readers.
Also Known As will be snapped up by fans of Benway’s witty voice and Ally Carter’s Uncommon Criminals and Gallagher Girls series.
It’s easy for me to say what kinds of YA books I don’t like. Some genres or subgenres that just aren’t my thing (dystopians, angel books, zombie stories). But if you ask me what YA subgenres I do like – well, that’s harder. Do I like contemporaries? Some – I like contemporary romance aimed at older YA. I’m not a big fan of the recent spate of self-published YA/new adult that focuses solely or mostly on sexual relationships. I’m not generally drawn to “issues” books, but I have liked the occasional one here or there. I haven’t read and don’t want to read any of the past year’s cancer-themed titles, though many are much-lauded. I'm sure they're great, but I'm not in the mood for any tearjerkers right now, thanks. Oh, and I’m kind of over paranormal romance.
This year, when some of my favorite bloggers posted their “what am I looking forward to in 2013” lists, I jotted down the titles I was excited about. And then I wondered: could I use the list of books I’m looking to analyze personal trends in advance? Can I tell what will be hot in 2013 for me?
Here’s how a look at how 39 of the top books from by TBR list break down by genre:
I'm not surpised to see that there are only two dystopians in there. I am surprised by how many paranormals! Guess I'm not as over it as I thought. Mysteries are making a comeback - I used to read a lot of adult mystery, thriller, & spy novel stuff. Guess that's making a comeback.
In addition, I noted the following :
- nbsp; the vast majority of books I'm interested in reading promote romance as an element (27). Seven of those could reasonably be described flat-out as romances.
- nbsp; At least 19 could be called crossovers with another genre (e.g., paranormal crossed with a mystery or contemporary crossed with an “issues” book).
- nbsp; There are no books I would only describe as issues books on the list.
- nbsp; Three of the issues crosses relate to mother issues.
- nbsp; Ten include either a rescue or survival scenario.
- nbsp; Only two authors are males.
- nbsp; Thirty authors are new to me this year.
- nbsp; Two are retellings of classics.
- nbsp; Eight are the first in a new series. Only three are the continuation of an existing series (have I completed all the series I was reading? Or did none of the series I started last year compel me to want to read the next one?)
How about you? Have you ever tried to see trends in your reading habits?
dark star by Bethany Frenette
Review copy purchased
One part Batman and one part Charmed, dark star is a highly enjoyable urban fantasy.
Ithought I was done with the urban fantasy genre – that I’d read all the creatures and couldn’t be entertained by yet another good vs. evil with supernatural creatures. I was attracted to dark star for the superhero spin and was surprised to find myself very entertained.
Audrey, the daughter of Minneapolis’s most famous (notorious?) super hero crime fighter, is a pleasant main character to follow as she discovers more about her mother’s real enemy (hint – it’s not the Joker), the danger plaguing the Twin Cities and the extended family she never knew she had.
The demon threat (that’s not a spoiler, it’s revealed in the book jacket) was very reminiscent of Charmed, with an underworld and demons wearing human faces and witchy powers and power bases similar to those of the Halliwell sisters. This similarity might cause another book to feel stale - but not dark star. It was fun to revisit the familiar and beloved concepts of Charme and, though I didn’t catch any direct Charmed references, it felt like the a homage for fans.
There were a couple of interesting twists to the plot relating to the bad guy and chosen one mythology, which I won’t comment on further to avoid spoilers, but they definitely held my attention. The one weak point, for me, was the romance. The connection between Audrey and love interest, Leon, her mother’s side kick, was a bit tepid. I would have liked to see more of a spark between them, but it just never sizzled for me.
This wasn’t Batman Returns, gritty superhero realism. When I first saw thesuper hero reference in the description, that’s what I was hoping for and I still wish someone would write that – without the supernatural elements. Despite that, I wasn’t disappointed. dark star was a fun urban fantasy and I’m definitely in for the further adventures of Audrey & co. Recommended for fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black type urban fantasy novels.