11. THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson Ms. Johnson must have thought, “So you think the paranormal market’s dead, huh? Well, then, get a load of this!” when she sat down to write THE NAME OF THE STAR. I loved how she put an unexpected twist on what has been a dying genre. Part mystery, part suspense, and part paranormal, THE NAME OF THE STAR was quite literally a page-turner. The only reason I didn’t officially recommend it is because the subject matter--a murder mystery that involves a series of Jack-the-Ripper-style slayings--is a little gruesome (although I thought Ms. Johnson handled the blood and guts as well as she could). On the whole, well worth a read.
12. THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton If you like enchanted talismans and vibrant historical settings, you’ll probably love THE FAERIE RING. Ms. Hamilton painted her late-Victorian-era
13. THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of details about this third installment in Ms. Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. I remember thinking it was a little redundant and didn’t take the story in the direction I might have taken it, but then, I know I’m on the waiting list for THE IRON KNIGHT at the library, so I must not have thought too poorly of it:)
14. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor Here’s another great example of a well-established author reinventing a waning trend (in this case, fallen angels). I thought the first two-thirds of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE were engaging and original, but then the whole book morphed into Epic Back Story Mode. Now don’t get me wrong--the back story was interesting and highly relevant to the plot. But I wished Ms. Taylor would have woven that back story into the forward-moving action a la HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET instead of dumping it at the end. Would that have been much harder to do? Of course, but I think Ms. Taylor would have been equal to the task.
15. BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris The thing I liked best about BAD TASTE IN BOYS was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, aspiring medical researcher Kate Grable is dealing with a zombie plague, but does she let that rob her of her sparkling wit and personality? Of course she doesn’t:) The other thing I really liked was how real Kate seemed. She cared about important things, like school and grades (and keeping all her classmates from turning into zombies), but she also cared about what the senior quarterback thought of her. She was neither too fluffy nor too serious. I’d read another book about her in a heartbeat (no pun intended).
16. CROSSED by Ally Condie If you read my last reading roundup (the one from February, not the one from yesterday), you can probably guess that I didn’t particularly care for MATCHED. However, the same cannot be said for its sequel, CROSSED. I inhaled this book. I loved the characters, the world building, and especially the prose. Make yourself read MATCHED so you can get to CROSSED. (Also, after reading CROSSED, I am definitely Team Xander.)
17. THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas A well-written MG fantasy that will especially appeal to the boy readers in your life. I kept waiting for the plot to develop into something a little bigger than it did, but perhaps the rest of the series will do that. On the whole, I’d recommend it.
18. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did, mostly because I tend to go for urban rather than high fantasy, but Ms. Carson’s debut sucked me in. Whereas some authors choose to spread a story out over two or even three books, Ms. Carson managed to cram two or three books into one. The result is a fantastical, fast-paced adventure that never quite fits within one genre. I’d definitely buy this one for my teenaged daughter (if I had a teenaged daughter, that is).
19. LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins Fans of Ms. Perkins’s ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS won’t be disappointed by this companion novel. Cricket
20. GOLIATH by Scott Westerfeld This third and final installment in Mr. Westerfeld’s Leviathan series is another great selection for the boy readers in your life. GOLIATH features a bunch of exciting action scenes atop a genetically engineered flying sperm whale (hello, steampunk!), and the romance is minimalist and understated. The only thing I didn’t like about GOLIATH was how uneducated it made me feel about the history of the First World War…
I think that’s it (from me, at least)! Which books would you add to my gift guide?