Whittenberg, Allison. Tutored.
Wendy's father is a well-to-do, educated black man who is vehemently opposed to black people who have not made something of themselves, so he is not happy that Wendy is volunteering with a tutoring center in an economically disadvantaged part of town. While there, she meets Hakiam, whose mother got tired of raising him and put him into foster care. Having had enough of that, he moves from Cincinnati to Philadelphia to help his cousin Leesa raise her premature baby, Malikia. He doesn't really have a plan. Wendy does-- it includes going to college at Howard University in order to reconnect with her ethnic heritage, a plan that her father does not embrace. Wendy and Hakiam are strangely drawn to each other, and start to date. Wendy helps Hakiam take care of little Malikia, and tries to get him to secure a job and continue his education, but when things go wrong with the baby, he's not sure if he can hang on.
Strengths:I don't know that I have read anything that covers black-on-black prejudice, so this was interesting and will be a good addition to my romance books.
Weaknesses: The pictures of Wendy and Hakiam appear only on the back cover! There are a
few instances where this verges into more high school territory-- Hakiam smokes marijuana, and there is a party or two-- but these events are not glamorized. I also didn't feel what attraction these two had to each other, but they apparently did.
Meyer, Marissa. Cinder.
Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing, so when Prince Kai brings her his android to repair, she is not overly surprise, but is very flattered. She knows that she will not get to the big ball because her stepmother Adri is putting all of her resources into sending Cinder's stepsisters, Peony and Pearl. When Peony is struck down with letumosis, the plague that is going around and which also kills the king, Adri volunteers Cinder to participate in research to try to find a cure for the disease. During this research, Cinder finds out that she is actually immune to the disease. In the meantime, the Lunar Queen Levana comes to earth to console Kai about the death of his father and to try to set up an alliance with Earth... by marrying Kai. Cinder realizes that she can see through Levana's glamor, and her continued work with the doctor in the research facility leads to some startling truths about herself. Can Cinder save Earth from Queen Levana, save her sister from the plague, believe that Kai likes her more than Levana, and make it to the ball?
Strengths: This is one of those books that didn't appeal to me but which everyone is reading, but I was drawn in from the first page and really enjoyed it. There are so many good twists on the Cinderella story, plus intergalactic intrigue. I also liked that it was science fiction without being completely dystopian. Really a "wow" of a book!
Weaknesses: There was a lot going on, and since this is a fairly long book (390 pages), a bit more tightening would have strengthened the story for me.