I actually haven't been reading much lately. I moved recently and got a new job, which was hugely stressful (as I'm sure many of you know), and when I'm stressed, I find it really difficult to get focused enough to take in a story. Audiobooks are a lot easier, but print books, something I have to stay still for...not so much. Thankfully, over the past few days, I've started feeling more "at home," and I've started back up reading at a more usual pace for me.
And here's what I've been reading lately. Longer reviews will come later, but for those of you with short attention spans - this post is for you.
Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Yulia is a teenager in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. She's psychic - she can read people's thoughts and see memories via touch - which makes her a prime target for the KGB. When she slips one day, the KGB gets her and forces her to work for them as a spy, threatening her family if she doesn't comply. I actually really dig the combination of historical fiction and supernatural powers. The writing is good, and Smith is very skilled at stringing the reader along - giving us just enough information at just the right time to ensure we need to read just one more page. It's clear there are a lot of secrets here (please forgive my pun), and I hope the final revelations don't disappoint.
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci
Aliens! Space stations! Attempted murder! This book has nearly everything I love. Tula Bane is preparing with her family and other members of the Children of Earth to head toward their new colony, the planet Beta Granade, when she notices something amiss: the grain they are supposed to take with them isn't on the ship. When she points this out to the leader, he tries to kill her. She's left for dead, the ship takes off without her, and she has to find a way to survive on the space station where she's been stranded, the only human among hundreds of aliens who all regard her species as less than desirable at best and unworthy of life at worst. It reminds me a bit of Babylon 5, complete with a version of "Down Below" where Tula scrapes by, except Tula's space station has nothing to do with diplomacy. I always love seeing what writers envision for the future, particularly when the future involves aliens, but I found this future world a bit too sketchy for my tastes (albeit fascinating nonetheless).
Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
Cody re-imagines the story of Will Scarlet, one of Robin Hood's merry men. Will is 13 years old, and his story reads as older middle grade or younger YA. It's great on audio, which is how I'm consuming it. It feels like a bit of a throwback to the stories I listened to a lot as a kid myself: lots of adventure, a little (light-handed) moralizing, plus a kid who acts like a kid and has kid thoughts. (For example, Will is more concerned with Christmas presents than learning about diplomacy.) The only thing that isn't working for me are the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. There's a brief quotation taken from somewhere in the middle of the chapter, placed at the beginning of the chapter, and attributed to the character who says it. Then we hear it again in context later on. I know it's meant to serve as a teaser, an enticement to read on, but the choice of quotations so far hasn't made me think "Oh, I simply must figure out how that fits into everything." Instead it just seems repetitive.