The Drowning, by Rachel Ward:
The flashbacks are an economical way to dole out the back story—while there aren’t a whole lot of strengths here, it can’t be said that it isn’t tight—and they’re integrated seamlessly into the main narrative. What doesn’t work is anything having to do with an emotional arc: which, unfortunately, is most of the rest.
A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman
Catch a Falling Star, by Kim Culbertson
The Treatment (Program), by Suzanne Young
Tease, by Amanda Maciel
The Taking, by Kimberly Derting
Sleep No More, by Aprilynne Pike
In the Shadows, by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo
The Freedom Summer Murders, by Don Mitchell
Exile: Exile #1, by Kevin Emerson
The Break-Up Artist (A Break-Up Artist Novel), by Philip Siegel
New paperbacks (that I've read):
Unbroken: A Ruined Novel, by Paula Morris:
Just like Ruined (or, you know, what I remember of it), Unbroken reads like part-paranormal-mystery-romance, part travelogue. In addition to loads of details about New Orleans (past and present) and lots of information about the various communities and cultures and subcultures that populate the city, there's some discussion about gentrification and a bit of conversation about preserving history versus quality of life. While much of it definitely reads like the author had some travel guides open at all times as she wrote, for the most part, the information is integrated smoothly and in a non-infodumpy manner.
The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door, by Karen Finneyfrock:
Celia is smart, creative, curious, sensitive, loves reading, and loves words, but she doesn't talk like someone reading a Diablo Cody script. When she mouths off to one of the jerks at school, she keeps it simple ("You're stupid and mean, and you suck at basketball"; "Keep marching, hate parade"), and in so doing, the moment isn't about the words she chooses, but about the fact that she chooses to to speak up. When she speaks up in defense of others, it comes off as realistic and as real-world possible, rather than as something you'd see in a movie: and that makes it all the more inspiring.
Proxy, by Alex London:
It’s a thrill ride, with explosions and escapes and danger, chases and betrayals and unlikely alliances; and London’s descriptions of the vision-based technology made me think of bothMinority Report and Feed. It isn’t just about the action or the neat technology, though: It’s also a story about trust and redemption, responsibility and forgiveness; about how far people are willing to go to get what they want, and how far they will bend their own moral code in order to justify it.
Does My Head Look Big in This?, by Randa Abdel-Fattah:
I enjoyed it so much -- Amal has a great voice, whip-smart and ornery and passionate and laugh-out-loud funny* and sensitive. While the book occasionally does veer into Preachy Land, I think that Amal's character makes it work. I mean, really -- find me a teenager who doesn't get a little self-righteous now and then**. I actually found the subplot about Simone's weight issues more heavy-handed and irritating than any of Amal's railings against Muslim stereotypes.
A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama, by Laura Amy Schlitz:
A gothic storyline AND spiritualism!? How could it get any better? Well, I'll tell ya: three-dimensional characters written with subtlety and compassion and a FANTASTIC villain. Good one, Laura Amy Schlitz. I will very definitely be watching for your next book.
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green:
You know what got me about The Fault in Our Stars more than anything else? What made me, on more the one occasion, laugh out loud even while I was bawling**? It wasn't the witty banter or the poetry or the philosophizing or the mullings-over of mortality. It was Hazel's empathy.