For my birthday, I indulged myself and got an iPad. Since then, I've been enjoying lots of Fruit Ninja, DoodleJump and Angry Birds. I've also been enjoying Bluefire Reader, an app that works in conjunction with NetGalley so I can read digital ARCs! I have to say, when I decided on the iPad I never thought I would use it as an e-reader. I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to books. I think e-readers are great because they've opened up the market in a whole new one, but I want my books in paperback and hardback, stacked up on my shelves. But, I've found NetGalley to be awesome.
Having a digital ARC instead of a paper one reminds me to go out and buy the book when it comes out. It's easy--even with books you really love--to just hold onto your ARC. We're all poor bloggers, after all! But going out and buying--especially right when a book comes out--is so important because it helps out the authors we love by supporting them and letting booksellers and publishers know about that support.
Below, I tell you about two galleys I just finished, and will definitely be going out and buying when they come out!
Shine by Lauren Myracle, due out 5/1/2011
Here's the Goodreads Summary: "When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author."
Intense, right? I have to say, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. It's gorgeous! The theme is kept going inside the book, with a repeated haunting black and white photograph of a dilapidated house and some tree branches of the first page of each new chapter. Score one for the design team!
I wondered if this book was going to feel over-the-top on its "hard" issues--I mean, drugs and hate crimes in the same novel?!--and lose the mystery side that it had. But I was totally wrong, and now know that I should never doubt Lauren Myracle again. This book pulls you in so strongly--it's almost a physical sensation of sinking into Cat's world of Black Creek. Even as a lifelong northerner, I could not only see and understand what it felt like to live in a tiny backwoods town in the South, but I could feel it. Myracle does some of the best world-building I've ever seen in this book--tight and as fully-realized as the most intricate fantasy novel!
Myracle did what is so hard for so many writers to do--she wrote a book about hard issues without trying to directly teach readers a lesson or have the plot feel didactic. Even our protagonist, Cat, has moments of seeing things both ways, which adds another level and deeper thought to the two main issues happening in Black Creek: the hate crime committed against Cat's friend Patrick, and the drug use that runs through the town.
As for the mystery, I felt kept in the dark in a good way. I liked the Cat was smart and a little scrappy--she was resourceful and brave, but realistically so. I liked all the twists and turns Myracle put into her plot. There were few things that felt coincidental or set-up just to move the plot along.
This book gave me chills. Like I said before, it's an INTENSE book. I definitely needed a breather after finishing it...which is why I decided to read THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter.
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter is due out 4/19/11 from Harlequin Teen. Again, it was the cover that grabbed me first. How epic is that chick in the white dress? And how cool is it that they put the Greek letters into the title?
Here's the Goodreads summary: "Every girl who has taken the test has died. Now it's Kate's turn. It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. If she fails..."
I was totally sold based on the summary! THE GODDESS TEST is a super fun, fast-paced read. I love Greek myths, so this was right up my alley. Carter doesn't waste any time--she jumps right into the action. Before you know it, you're getting the SparkNotes on Greek mythology and trying to figure out just what's up in Kate's world.
Something I really liked about THE GODDESS TEST is that Kate is fighting to save her mom. I feel like YA is always about the unrequited love (and I do love me some unrequited love, don't get me wrong) and that parents are always either dead or evil. It was a nice change to see the teen giving up something for the parent and having a wider view of the world than just themselves. It was also great to see a loving relationship between a mother and a daughter. I'm glad Kate wasn't fighting to save her love, because...
Henry is mad hot. I would've been really sad if he had been on the page less! As it was, I could've used a few more Henry scenes! Henry is a great twist on the dark and tortured type. Edward Cullen has nothing on him--he's been a vampire for a few hundred years? How about trying to be Lord of the Underworld for a few thousand? Now THAT'S dark and tortured! Carter wrote Henry with an ethereal quality that made him feel like he really had been around for centuries, but also with an innocent, curious side that made him sympathetic and relatable.
I really enjoyed reading these books back-to-back. Definitely worth checking out--and they work great as a pair if you're like me, and need a breather in between intense books!
(Both of these ARCS were received digitally through NetGalley.com and I don't get anything cool from them for doing this, other than just enjoying the sound of me talking to myself out loud.)
So, have any of you checked out these books? Have thoughts on e-readers or NetGalley? What other 2011 books are you looking forward to?