Saturday, July 2, 2011

Three Book Reviews, Plus How To Write Non-Sucky Paranormal Romance

After sending yesterday's post off into the world, I realized that I'm reading much more than books on birth, parenting, and education -- I've also been devouring fiction at a rapid speed.  And not only that, I've been reading some really good fiction!

Starting somewhere around the end of my high school career, I started having a harder time finding well-written books.  Perhaps I grew into a more discerning reader, or perhaps there's less quality fiction available.  Whatever the case may be, I started becoming frustrated, because it seemed that the majority of the fiction I read was mediocre at best.

So when I read a number of books in a row that are all good, I feel deliciously delighted.  And that's what's been happening lately -- of the four fictional worlds I've entered in the past month, three of them were excellent.  Wow!

Which means that I have to toot their horn a bit.  Because these authors, who have managed to create wonderful books that don't turn me off, deserve it.  These books all fall in the category of young adult fiction, which is my favorite genre because YA publishing is hard to break into and necessitates higher quality writing than mainstream adult fiction (at least, I think so).

The first (and best) recent read that I fell in love with is Divergent by Veronica Roth.  This dystopian novel rocks.  Really.  Read it.  The premise is that in the not-too-distant future, American society is sorted into five factions, each of which values a certain trait above all others (such as bravery, or honesty).  When they come of age, individuals are testing to see which faction they would fit best into, and then may choose which faction they will join.  Protagonist Beatrice does not know where she fits into the world, and must decide or risk being factionless, which she considers worse than a death sentence.  Add to Beatrice's confusion a lurking corruption which threatens to destroy her world and you have yourself an amazing book.  Yes -- amazing.  If you don't believe me, writer friend and book blogger Kayla has already written up an excellent review.

Then I delved into an ARC of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.  For some reason I expected this book to be a saccharine story about a teeny bopper who wanted to be a witch, but wasn't quite.  Thankfully, the actual story was not toothache-inducing, but was instead lyrically written, with complex and realistic characters.  When a stranger comes to the town of Near (a place which never sees strangers at all, apparently), he becomes blamed when children start to disappear, and the main character is left to find out if the stranger is the kidnapper or someone (or something . . .) else.  This book was a pleasant surprise, and I fully recommend reading it upon its release on August 2 of this year.  You can read my full review on Goodreads here.

The most recent book I read was also a pleasant surprise, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.  Let me start out by saying that I typically do NOT like paranormal romances. Especially paranormal romances that involve some sort of a love triangle. And I am leery of angel paranormal romances after reading Lauren Kate's Fallen (and being unable to complete the trilogy).  But I really liked Unearthly. And it's a paranormal romance. An angel paranormal romance with a love triangle. And it was good.

Here's why I think this book rises head and shoulders above Fallen, Twilight, and the host of other paranormal romances on the market -- the main character doesn't suck. Instead of being love-stupid or indecisive or sniveling, Clara is an intelligent teenager who is trying to come to grips with the fact that she, her mom, and her brother are angel-bloods, and that she has a predestined purpose to fulfill. She doesn't whine. She doesn't gripe. Love doesn't make her weak (I'm looking at you, Bella).  And the result of all that is that Unearthly doesn't suck.  I'll definitely be reading the sequel.  You can check out the rest of my anti-Twilight opinions on Goodreads here.

So there you have it -- more than enough awesome YA reads to keep you going through the long weekend and beyond.  Let me know if you read these books because I'd love to hear your opinions!  Now, the Best Husband Ever and I are off to buy a mattress (maybe).

What are you reading?


  1. Beth, I'm so glad you enjoyed Divergent! Veronica Roth is a good friend from Northwestern, and such an amazing writer. :) I'll pass along your lovely review.

    Have an awesome 4th of July!

  2. Hi Beth,

    Thanks for the book reviews. I will have to check out Unearthly. I'm reading and taking ntoes on super exciting yoga anatomy and ayurveda books for training. Ugh. Don't get me wrong, love studying yoga, but anatomy is a bear. For a break this weekend I picked up The Warlock from Michael Scott's series. Easy read.

    Well...back to notetaking!

  3. Oof anatomy sounds TOUGH. I don't envy that reading! But I'm sure you're rocking it. :D

  4. That's awesome! Make sure you tell her what an amazing writer she is. :)


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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King