The Wednesday Wars - Gary D. Shmidt*
Okay, I LOVED this book. Sinking into it each night was such a treat, the perfect way to end a long summers day. Shmidt deftly weaves events together, tying up loose ends neatly and in such a satisfying way. If at times it became a little formulaic (and thus, predictable) this was more than made up for by a cast of truly lovable characters that I found myself really rooting for (sounds rude). Holling's voice felt very authentic, and he is an all round ridiculously sweet protagonist (right up there with my fave literary characters).
The historical content is interesting, though this isn't pushed at all, serving more as a backdrop for a slice of life type novel. I also enjoyed watching out for all the Shakespeare tie-ins, because I'm a geek, and I dig stuff like that.
Birthmarked - Caragh O'Brien*
So I definitely feel like I need a bit of a break from YA Dystopian novels, but this one was worth the read.
O'Brien's writing is smooth and confident, fairly well paced, and very gripping - the kind of story you sink into for several days before waking from your book coma. Just my kind. The set up is a little flawed and you definitely have to put your doubts aside and just enjoy the story, but that was easy enough to do. There is so much about the premise that is original, and where there are gaps, this is made up for (in my opinion) by some well-researched background. Most of the twists are fairly predictable, but the characters move in so many directions that at least in this respect you are left guessing.
Gaia is an unlikely hero, which was refreshing. Plus, she's a 16 year old midwife. So, already winning. As far as romance goes, this came and went for me just a little bit. I really enjoyed it up until about the halfway point, and then the tension fizzled a little and I lost some interest. Still, I look forward to seeing what happens to these two lovebirds. Because I'm totes reading more. Totes.
Across the Universe - Beth Revis**
Oh no. This was... Bad. I picked this up when in search of some YA Sci-Fi escapism. What a bummer. First up, I felt veeeeeeery disconnected from each and every character, especially the two leads. D'oh. I really could have quit at any point, and never given any thought to either Amy or Elder ever again. So there's that. Theeeeeeen, there was my utter discomfort with so many of the choices Revis makes. I can't really go into this without giving out spoilers, so if you do give it a try, let's talk. The premise is outright terrifying in so many ways (not a book for the claustrophobic - AKA me - ten years ago), and it just. gets. worse.
I'm not recommending it, so I guess I'll just leave it at that. And actually, I had a quick google while reading this, and discovered something I did love about this book - the interactive diagram on the Across The Universe site. FUN!!! So, all is not lost.
*Recommended by Angela of Striking Keys
**Found via recommendations on Goodreads