Monday, June 15, 2009

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith | Review

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith | ReviewYou Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 19, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

Emma Healy has never fit in with the rest of her family.

She's grown used to being the only ordinary one among her rather extraordinary parents and siblings. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she feels like a part of her has been justified in never feeling quite whole. Suddenly it seems important to visit his grave, to set off in search of her missing half. When her next-door neighbor Peter Finnegan -- who has a quiet affinity for maps and a desperate wish to escape their small town -- ends up coming along for the ride, Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common.

But as they head from upstate New York toward North Carolina, driving a beat-up and technically stolen car and picking up a stray dog along the way, they find themselves learning more and more about each other. Neither is exactly sure what they're looking for, but with each passing mile, each new day of this journey, they seem to be getting much closer to finding it.

Emma Healy has just had the surprise of her life. While in the attic searching for a book for her father, she discovered the birth and death certificate of her twin brother Thomas. Why has nobody ever mentioned this to her? Is this why she always feels like she doesn’t fit with her family?

With the help of her nerdy neighbor Peter Finnegan, Emma sets off to visit the gravesite of her brother on the one day that she shares with her, their birthday. Along the way they run into some snags in their plan including a three-legged stray dog who seems to have taken a liking to them.

Is this the family Emma has always been looking for or is she just running? Will she ever find the place she truly belongs?

Jennifer E Smith has created a wonderful coming of age story in You Are Here.

Emma Healy and her family were wonderful characters. Yes I include Peter in her family. He just seems like he fits there. Her family was full of wonderfully eccentric people who loved her but never really knew how to show it. Throughout the book you get to see more into them and why they never mentioned the fact that Emma had a twin brother.

Peter was probably my favorite character. He was so funny and quirky. He was in love with Emma from the start and he couldn’t even admit it to himself. He was just so awkward and nerdy. I loved him.

And then of course the stray dog who made them his. He was found at a New Jersey rest stop and just decided to go with them. He was so cute and it was so funny how he seemed to think that Emma and Peter were the strays that needed him.

Also, the whole story was just cute. That is the one word I can think of to describe it. Peter and Emma are two unlikely runaways who end up finding their true homes while they are traveling across the country.

Overall, You Are Here is the perfect summer roadtrip book. I definitely recommend it for a long car ride or even a lazy day lounging by the pool.

Similar Books:
Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen | Review

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen | ReviewAlong For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin Teen on June 16, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 383
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

picadillyblueAuden is not your typical teenage girl. Ever since her parents divorce, Auden doesn’t sleep. Instead she wanders around town, finding new ways to entertain herself. She spends a lot of time at the local diner and other times just reading. Unlike most girls her age, Auden is more focused on her schooling then on the boys. It’s not that she doesn’t like the boys, it’s that she doesn’t know how to act around them. Auden has never been the type to make friends so she doesn’t know much about being a teenager. Everything changes, though, when she spends the summer with her dad, step mom, and her new baby sister.

As Auden gets settled into her new life on the beach, her feelings start to change. Suddenly school isn’t as important as she thought and the people she thought she knew begin to show their true side to Auden. Her new step mom isn’t as bad as she thought and she even finds herself making some friends when she decides to help out at her boutique.

On one of her late night jaunts, Auden meets Eli. Eli is a fellow insomniac who is plagued by troubles from his past. As they spend more and more time together, Eli helps Auden reclaim her missing childhood but will Auden be able to help Eli reclaim his future?

My love of Sarah Dessen books is even stronger after reading Along For The Ride. Some may say that all of Sarah’s books follow the same plot line but I don’t agree. I have read every single Sarah Dessen book that is published and there may be some similarities but no two books are alike. Every new book is fresh and memorable, full of wonderful characters and stories.

Auden and Eli are even better than I expected. Their characters are so well-developed. They have their own personalities, their own quirks, and their own pasts. Sarah Dessen always does such a wonderful job of telling you everything you may want to know about a character without overdoing it. She never leaves me guessing at the end of the book and I love that about her writing.

Another really good point about this book was the whole story. Yes it’s a love story but that doesn’t mean it is cliche. It was definitely something I have never read before and I loved that it was different than past books. There is a bit of a subplot and another romance in bloom between other characters but the main focus is on the growth of Eli and Auden’s relationship.

I don’t think I can think of a negative comment about Along For The Ride. Also, if you have read Lock and Key, they are a few references in Along For The Ride. I love how Ms.Dessen always manages to do that with her stories.

In the end I would recommend this book to anybody and I plan on having this to reread again and again. Ms.Dessen has earned all 5 stars in my opinion and I can’t wait for the actual release date on June 16.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler | Review

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler | ReviewTwenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Published by Little Brown on June 1, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 290
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Okay."
"Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?"
"Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"


According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

Anna and Frankie are best friends and before he died Matt was their other best friend. But Anna and Matt had a secret. They were more than friends.

For a year now Anna has been keeping their secret. Ever since Matt died, Frankie has changed and Anna feels like it would only upset her more to know the truth of their relationship. As the months pass, Anna hides her true feelings and is always there to help Frankie. When Frankie proposes the twenty boy summer, Anna feels obligated to go along.

On the trip to Zanzibar Bay the girls encounter many different boys and new feelings for each: disgust, hope, maybe even love. Will Anna be able to move on from Matt without forgetting the wonderful month they spent together? Will Anna ever have the courage to tell Frankie about what happened with Matt? And will their friendship be able to withstand the twenty boy summer?

Twenty Boy Summer was an absolutely wonderful debut novel. The characters, setting, and plot were fantastic. Sarah Ockler has created a gripping novel about lost love, grief, and moving on.

Anna and Frankie were fabulous characters. They both had very realistic personalities and quirks that came with them. While I wasn’t impressed with Frankie at the beginning, her whole character really matures throughout the book and by the end, I loved her just as much as I loved Anna. Anna was definitely my favorite, though. Throughout the whole story, you can practically feel everything that she is going through. From losing her first true love, to finding out that new memories can’t erase the old ones, you go through all her emotions and the growth that comes along with each.

While I did love the characters, the setting was the most amazing part of the book.The setting of this book is truly what set it apart from others that I have read. The fantastic descriptions, not only of what is seen of the ocean, but what is felt. I have never been to California or seen the ocean in my life but after reading Sarah Ockler’s writing, I could almost feel the sea breeze on my skin and taste the salt water on my lips.

My only complaint about this book was how one’s virginity was labeled as an albatross. Being a virgin is not seen to me as something to be ashamed of and it is not something that I think should be cast aside for the first boy you meet. At many points, Anna talks about how she would just like it to be over with so that she can join the exclusive club of girls who are no longer virgins. I can tell you right now that that is not how things are in my school and hopefully not in others. I just didn’t like how this was portrayed in a YA book.

Overall, this is the perfect summer read and I would recommend it for just about anyone. While I did have one minor complaint, I loved the book. There are not enough good things I could say about Sarah Ockler’s writing and if you would like to find out more, go find a copy of Twenty Boy Summer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols | Review

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols | ReviewGoing Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Published by MTV Books on March 17, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 245
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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5 Stars

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over....

Going Too Far is an amazing book. I could not put this book down. I was hooked at the first page. Meg and 3 of her friends are caught on a railroad bridge, under the influence, right before their spring break. As punishment the cop who found them decided that instead of going to Miami for a school trip, they should be forced to ride around with either the police, firefighters, or ambulance personnel.

Meg unluckily gets stuck with the police officer that arrested them. Officer After seems like somebody Meg knows but she can’t quite place him until her friend tells her that they went to school with him and that he is only a year older then them. As the week progresses Meg is unnerved to find herself beginning to fall for Officer After even though she knows that it can never go anywhere.

Through the week Meg and Officer After begin to connect in different ways and some shocking things are revealed about both of their pasts.

Will Meg and John be able to get past their differences and finally be in a good relationship or will they ruin everything with their hostile natures toward each other?

Honestly, this is one of the best books I have ever read. It has just the right mix of romance, comedy, and rebelliousness. I could safely say that this is book for just about any teenage girl.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

After The Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr | Review

After The Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr | ReviewAfter the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Published by Houghton Mifflin on May 18, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 328
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

A new novel by the Printz Honor author Garret Freymann-Weyr, about a boy who discovers what happens when love fails us—or we fail love.

Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty. She’s smart. She’s brave. She’s also a self-proclaimed train wreck. Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite. He’s also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland. Their young love starts off like a romance novel—full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.

Told with compassion and true understanding, After the Moment is about what happens when a young man discovers that sometimes love fails us, and that, quite often, we fail love.

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After The Moment is a story of love–love that is true but cannot hold strong through tough times. This book was a little more serious than I expected touching on subjects such as self-mutilation, death of a loved one, bullying, and many others. Even though it was a bit more serious it was truly an amazing story.

Leigh Hunter is the golden boy: soccer star, straight-A student, and boyfriend to Astra Grein. At least, he is until his stepsister’s father dies and he is asked to move to Washington to be there for her. Leigh and Astra decide that they would rather have a long distance relationship than break up but Leigh never expected to fall for Maia Morland, the train wreck.

Maia has many different problems. Her stepfather that actually cares about her is in jail, her mother doesn’t notice her, and she has her own issues such as self-mutilation, anorexia, and she had a tendency to act out sexually until her psychiatrist made her sign a contract.

When Leigh meets Maia he never once thinks that he could love her. She is the exact opposite of Astra and yet he can’t get her off his mind. Leigh begins to drive Maia to her prison visits and in the process, gets to know her. He doesn’t realize that he loves her until being away from her to visit his mom in Maine. When he returns home he goes straight to Maia’s and is surprised to find out that she feels the same way. They begin dating, even though Leigh still hasn’t broken up with Astra.

Finally, Leigh decides that he needs to end things once and for all with Astra and decides to go to New York and tell her in person. He never knew that his decision to stay in New York for one extra night would have such drastic consequences. When he returns to Washington nothing is the same and when he finds out why, he wishes he could change things but he can’t.

Unknowingly Leigh breaks Maia’s trust and loses their relationship. He will always love her but they can never be together.

And if you want to know why, you will just have to read the book. I wouldn’t just give away the ending.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do-Over by Niki Burnham

Do-Over by Niki BurnhamDo-Over by Niki Burnham
Series: Royally Jacked #3
Published by Simon & Schuster on September 26, 2006
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

When it comes to love, how many chances do you get?

Girl meets prince. Girl looses prince. Girl gets prince back -- right? Well, that's what Valerie is hoping. She's back in Schwerinborg after spending some time with her mother in the good ol' US of A, and hopes that sparks are still flying between her and Georg. At first it looks like things are going great, until a ski trip to the Alps has Val and Georg's romance hitting some moguls. Could Val's love life be heading for a face-plant?

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In my opinion, this was one of the better books in the Simon Pulse romantic comedy collection. I think that Niki Burnham is one of the best authors in this series. I felt like maybe I could relate to these characters more than some of the others. I really liked Valerie and her friends. They seemed really funny and more like actual people than some other characters in books. The one thing that I didn’t really like, though, was how perfect Georg seemed. It was like Valerie was the only one in the relationship with flaws. It may make the book more like a fairytale but it isn’t realistic that he would be that fine with anything that Valerie may have done to mess up their relationship. There wasn’t a whole lot of plot to this book but it was still a really cute, easy read.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

When It Happens by Susane ColasantiWhen It Happens by Susane Colasanti
Published by Penguin Teen on May 4, 2006
Pages: 287
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

At the start of her senior year in high school, Sara wants two things: to get into a top college and to find true love.Tobey also wants two things for his senior year: to win Battle of the Bands and to make Sara fall in love with him. However, a popular jock named Dave moves in on Sara first. But Tobey’s quirky wit and big blue eyes are hard for Sara to ignore. Plus, he gets the little things that matter to her. Can a slacker rock-star wannabe win the heart of a pretty class brain like Sara?

Hilariously and movingly told through Tobey and Sara’s authentic voices, Susane Colasanti’s debut novel sizzles in its portrayal of two young people searching for The One.

picadillyblueWhen It Happens is such a great book. It tells such a true story of love in high school. I loved the two main characters Tobey and Sara. They are both seniors in high school and the total opposite of each other. Sara is an overachiever and Tobey a slacker musician. The cool thing about this book that really separates it from other teen romance books is that each chapter is told in either Tobey’s or Sara’s perspectives so you get inside both characters hearts and minds. This is Susane Colasanti’s debut novel and I cannot wait to read her next two books “Take Me There” and “Waiting For You.” I recommend these books for anybody who is a fan of Sarah Dessen and really just anybody.