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Not Just a Pretty Cover: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Hi!

During the last few weeks of summer before school started I was totally in the mood for a good contemporary beach read. I shopped my shelves and picked up My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, which I’d been eyeing for months.

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrickperch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Can we just acknowledge how lovely this cover is? It just has the exact look you want from a summer read…at least in my mind!

But My Life Next Door isn’t just a pretty cover, it is a well-developed contemporary romance with some serious sides. However, the story doesn’t feel heavy or overly weighty, but instead still maintains it’s summery feel despite the harder issues.

One thing I noticed about this book right away was the grace that it shows to different types or sizes of families. Throughout the novel we see Samantha’s small and reserved family sharply contrasted with Jase’s large and rambunctious one. We see snapshots into the inner workings of both, and what I appreciate the most is that there is no “better” or “worse” between the two. Through Samantha and Jase’s romance (squeeeee!) we see that there are positive and negative aspects to both small and large families and that each has its own unique form of dynamics, some parts healthy and some not.

Now, I mentioned the romance between Samantha and Jase. YES YES YES YES YES! This relationship is just so sweet you can’t help but read My Life Next Door and swoon a little. There is that perfect mix of excitement and uncertainty that usually accompanies first love. And Jase…he is the stuff that teen (or not-so-teen) crushes are made of!

Even the not-so-likeable characters and the not-so-romantic parts of the story are so well-rounded that you are able to understand the reasoning behind the actions being taken, even if you still don’t like them and they make you really angry!

So, even though I know it’s not summer anymore, but if you’re longing for the feel of the warm summer weather you may want to check out My Life Next Door because it will not disappoint!

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (June 14, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 394 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA (I’d say 8th grade and up)

Buy the Book: My Life Next Door

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Waiting on Wednesday: The One

Hi there fellow book lovers!

Have you noticed that there are a ton of fabulous books being released in 2014? I guess that’s a silly question because really, there are always a ton of fabulous books being released!

Well, this week for Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) I am excited because we’re one month closer to the release of The One by Kiera Cass!

The One by Kiera CassThe Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen. America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers’ hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey… Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.

GUYS! This cover! I can’t even handle how absolutely gorgeous that ivory gown is! It’s just so…frothy!

This series is just so fun to follow along with that I can’t wait to see what happens in this third book! But alas, May 6 just feels SO FAR AWAY!

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Rumors and Consequences: In Too Deep by Amanda Grace

Looks like a good day for a book review! But before we get to that, don’t forget you can still enter the Tempest Audiobook Giveaway until February 19!

In Too Deep by Amanda GraceI never meant for anyone to get hurt. All I wanted to do that night was make a play for Carter Wellesley. His heartless rejection was mortifying, but people got the wrong idea when they saw me leaving his bedroom, crying. That’s how rumors of rape started.

Now girls at school are pouring out their sympathy to me. Guys too. But not everyone’s on my side. The school has become a war zone and the threats are getting scary. What began as poetic justice has morphed into something bigger–forcing me to make a terrible choice.

I received In Too Deep by Amanda Grace from the publisher (Thank you Flux Books!) and was interested from the moment I read the jacket summary.

Although the plot of In Too Deep deals with sexual assault and rape, the story’s main plot line focuses on lies and how you can’t erase them.

One of the first things I noticed about this book is the honesty of the supporting characters. Take Nick for example. He is Sam’s best friend and has been for years. Although he does cherish their friendship and Nick is loyal, he is not afraid to call out Sam when she is wrong. Nick is not scared to say the things that may be difficult for Sam to hear, he knows its better for her to heat them. I appreciate this kind of loyalty and friendship portrayed in YA fiction, because often friends can be portrayed at loyal to a fault. This is reality. Real friendship is like that; real friends love you and aren’t hesitant to bring up the hard stuff.

Grace has written Sam’s character well. Sam is nowhere close to being perfect. The story starts with Sam making a dumb decision in an attempt to get a boy to notice her and then it’s like a dumb decision snowball that keeps getting bigger and bigger (I kept yelling at Sam in my mind!). Although Sam didn’t intend for the false rumors of rape to circulate around school, she also does nothing to stop them. Sam knows she’s in the wrong and has good intentions to put the stories to rest, but she just never gets up the courage to actually end it. Sam is a good person, but she makes bad mistakes. Sounds like me at that age and almost every other teenager I’ve ever known, which is why I think Sam’s character is well written. I think readers can relate to Sam.

Now, to the ending (without spoilers), I absolutely loved the ending especially the last few sentences (which I want to post but can’t because that would be wrong!). In the midst of tons of hardship and difficulty (brought on by the main character by herself) there is hope on the horizon, which is what made me really like this book.

Some people may be uncomfortable about middle schoolers reading In Too Deep based on the intense subject matter, but I think the lesson learned by the main character in the end is an important one for middle grade readers. That is why I would recommend this book to older middle schoolers and up who are looking for a realistic contemporary read.

Author: Amanda Grace

Publisher: Flux Books (February 8, 2012)

Format: Print ARC

Length: 228 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: In Too Deep

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Already On My To Buy List: The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Hello!  I read this book as part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera HiranandaniAfter her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia’s mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn’t always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren’t part of the “in” crowd.

At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she’s dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it’s hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances. And then, one day, Sonia’s father goes missing. Now Sonia wonders if she ever really knew him. As she begins to look for answers, she must decide what really matters and who her true friends are—and whether her two halves, no matter how different, can make her a whole.

I have to say that I was captivated with this story from the start; I started it and didn’t want to put it down (although work, and real life actually did force me to!).

The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a coming of age story centered around a girl in middle school at a point in her life when everything (and I mean everything!) gets turned upside down. Sonia’s father looses his job, she has to go to a different school, her mother has to work more, her father is struggling with depression, she is trying to make new friends, and all while kids at school are making fun of her.

Hiranandani writes a story so real that it hurts at times.  The more I read, the more my mind was flooded with my own memories from this age.  Kids are not just dealing with one problem, but  are often blindsided by a multitude all at once, making the transition from child to teenager that much more challenging.  I appreciate the way this book illustrates the complexity of family issues, relationship struggles and the difficulty that comes with discovering one’s own (ethnic/religious) identity. There was potential for Sonia’s story to be easily clichéd or stereotyped, but Hiranandani manages to keep the story balanced and realistic while at the same time incredibly touching. And I think that Hiranandani does a wonderful job of writing about such deep issues, while also maintaining the middle grade appropriateness.

As a main character Sonia is both likable and easy to connect with.  In the midst of all the changes, Sonia is really trying to make sense of everything the best she can.  I especially like how realistically flawed Hiranandani writes Sonia, as exemplified in how she handles her new friendships at her new school.  Through much of the book, Sonia puts real friendship on the back-burner, instead turning her attention to the more superficial and in turn hurts some people.  Although its a mistake I understand why Sonia would do this; her life is so much upheaval she just focuses on whats easy for a while; going with the flow.  Eventually, however she realizes that going with the flow isn’t always the healthiest of practices, especially when it comes to who you spend your time with. Who, when faced with such difficult times, wouldn’t make the easy choice for a little while?

Overall, I was impressed with how moving Sonia’s story was and highly recommend it to any reader preteen and up.   The Whole Story of Half a Girl is already on my Too Buy list for my Media Center!

Author: Veera Hiranandani

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Format: Advanced Reader Copy (e-book)

Pages: 224

Series: Stand alone debut

YA/MG: Middle Grades

Buy the Book: The Whole Story of Half a Girl

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Am Eagerly Awaiting in 2012

Top Ten TuesdayWelcome 2012!

Its a brand new year and with it come brand new books! There are of course, tons of Young Adult and Middle Grades fiction coming out this year, but there are some titles that I’m extremely excited about! Today’s Top Ten list is full of YA and MG fiction that I am eagerly awaiting! All are currently set for publication at some point during 2012.

Insurgent by Veronica RothInsurgent by Veronica Roth (May 1, 2012) I love this cover; the tree is gorgeous! YA

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra ClareClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (November 1, 2012) Official cover not yet revealed I keep hearing rumors that this is getting pushed back to 2013. Can someone please clear me up on this one? YA

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon HaleMidnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (January 31, 2012) Not YA/MG, but one of my favorite MG authors!

Princess Academy by Shannon HalePrincess Academy 2 (untitled) by Shannon Hale (2012) The above cover is for the first book as new book’s cover not yet revealed. MG

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra ClareCity of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (May 8, 2012) Official cover not yet revealed. YA

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard (August 30, 2012) YA/MG

Bitterblue by Kristin CashoreBitterblue by Kristin Cashore (May 1, 2012) YA/MG

Endlessly by Kiersten WhiteEndlessly by Kiersten White (May 1, 2012) YA/MG

Out of Sight Out of Time by Ally CarterOut of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (March 13, 2012) YA/MG

Matched 3 by Ally CondieMatched #3 (untitled) by Ally Condie (November 13, 2012) MY BIRTHDAY!!! YA

What titles are you trying hard to wait patiently for this year?

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The Science of Acquiring a Boyfriend: The Boy Project by Kami Kinard

This book was my first read for the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

For anyone who’s ever felt that boys were a different species….

Thirteen and wildly creative, Kara McAllister just had her best idea yet. She’s going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question for her science project: How can she get a boyfriend?

But Kara’s project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy’s bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara’s research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it…

I recently finished The Boy Project: Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister by Kami Kinard and have already added it to my To Buy List for my school Media Center.  I know for a fact my students are going to love it.  How do I know this?  Well, I know my kids.  I know they love drama, romance, journal style novels and stories about kids like themselves. Kami Kinard has hit the nail on the head with her debut novel.

Overall, The Boy Project is an entertaining and fun read.  The story is written in a journal style, similar to The Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney or The Dork Diary series by Rachel Renee Russell.  Kara has decided to study the act of getting a boyfriend for her science project, so the book is full of charts, graphs and doodles of her boy observation note cards.  Instead of chapters the book is written according to the dates Kara wrote in her “Soul Observations” journal.  All of these little illustrations are so cute and total fit in with what an intelligent and creative teen girl might actually doodle.

Speaking of the teen girl in question, Kara, is a very likeable and believable main character. I appreciate that Kinard created a smart main character who does not shy away from and attempt to hide her intelligence.  Instead of doing these things Kara uses her strengths to her advantage—she mixes her strengths (intelligence) with her interests (relationships and boys).  Throughout the book, Kara becomes more accepting of who she is and learns to embrace her creativity and talents.

I know my female students will really enjoy this book because it’s all about what is on any middle school girl’s mind—friendships and boyfriends!  Honestly, at first I was slightly bothered by the way Kara thinks that everyone in 8th grade, but her, has already had a boyfriend.  I was worried about the message this would send, but Kara’s obsession with getting a boyfriend eventually lessens as she starts to realize that having a boyfriend may not actually be the best thing ever.  I also know for a fact that boys were pretty much what I was focused on…in addition to school and my grades of course! I was also a major bookworm as a teenager (surprise! haha) and so is Kara, which adds to my love for her!  I really liked the way Kinard mentions some popular and well-loved teen fiction throughout the novel, I kept thinking, “Oh, I’ve read that one too!”.

The Boy Project is a great read for middle school aged girls and up (I’d even say some mature 5th graders too).  My only question and regret is why the heck didn’t I think of this for a science project when I was in middle school?!

Author: Kami Kinard

Publisher: Scholastic Press, January 1, 2012

Format: Advanced Reader Copy

Pages: 256

Series: Stand alone debut

YA/MG: Middle Grades

Buy the Book: The Boy Project: Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister

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Oh I’ve Been Waiting For You: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra ClareIn the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined.

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Seriously I love The Infernal Devices series. Clare has combined supernatural fiction with Victorian England, a little steampunkness, and a Welsh love interest. Its like she knows the inner longings of my soul. Sigh.

I’ve been waiting on this book since spring 2011; not long in the grand scheme of things, but long for me! While reading Clockwork Prince, I was not disappointed at all! The first book, Clockwork Angel, absolutely hooked me. I love the idea of taking this naive American girl and plopping her in the middle of not only a different country, but in a totally supernatural world she never knew existed. I was automatically interested in Tessa’s character and her struggle; learning about her gifts, how to use them, and figuring out who she actually is. If Clockwork Angel was about Tessa loosing her nativity and becoming more aware of the world around her then Clockwork Prince was about Tessa coming to terms with her gift and learning more about herself and those she loves in the midst of this new world.

So, Tessa is an awesome heroine. I love her. She is vulnerable yet strong enough to stand up for herself. She is sensitive, intelligent and fiercely loyal. She is also watchful of the people around her; she picks up on things others often overlook.

I’m impressed with the way Cassandra Clare has woven this delicate love triangle in the midst of multiple plot lines and it (the love triangle) doesn’t get lost underneath everything occurring around it. But at the same time the other plot lines are not overshadowed by the triangle. There is balance. But boy is this the love triangle to end all love triangles! Clare had me so engrossed in the story, which caused much pain and frustration along with excitement and many “Yes!” moments that I wanted to Google the ending of the trilogy to find out if I’d be happy with it or not! I couldn’t do this because the third book hasn’t been released yet, although I know I shouldn’t anyway. (I have only done this once and it was with Clare’s companion series, The Mortal Instruments. Shhh don’t tell!).

One thing I think is interesting about the love triangle is that no one involved is allowing it to ruin their established relationships. I hate movies like Legends of the Fall where everyone ends up hating each other all because of one girl. This hasn’t happened in The Infernal Devices series (at least not yet). The characters cherish their existing relationships so much that they do not allow the potentially explosive romantic situation take over; I appreciate the care Clare took to achieve this.

And of course, Will Herondale. Where do I even begin?! He is one of my all time top fictional crushes. I loved how Clare allows us to see more of Will’s story in this book. I listened to the audiobook and was completely enthralled by the way in which Ed Westwick narrated the scene where Will shares his story with Magnus; I almost forgot I was driving my car at the time!

Clockwork Prince is not a standalone novel; it’s the second book in a trilogy, so if you’re a fan of historic fiction with a bunch of supernatural thrown in and you liked the first book, Clockwork Angel, then you will also enjoy Clockwork Prince.

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Dec. 12, 2011

Format: Audiobook; 15 hrs and 35 mins

Narrator: Ed Westwick, Heather Lind

Series: Second in The Infernal Devices series

Buy the Book: “>Clockwork Prince (at Amazon.com)

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Holy Cliffhanger Batman! Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo by Becca FitzpatrickMerry Christmas to all!

My gift to you this year is a book review!  Yeaaa! :p

Nora Grey’s life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn’t pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He’s more elusive than ever and even worse, he’s started spending time with Nora’s arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadn’t been acting so distant. Even with Scott’s totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him – despite her lingering feeling that he’s hiding something.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperately searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything – and everyone – she trusts.

Okay, so I was reading some of the reviews for Crescedo on Goodreads.com a few days ago and whoa!!  It seems this book was an “either you like it or you didn’t” thing.  Well, I enjoyed this book.  I actually liked it more than the first book, Hush, Hush.

There was less filler in this one than the first, which allowed for more action.  I was hooked from the beginning and thought things kept a quick pace the whole way trough.  With the introduction of a new character, more Vee and Marcie Miller (She’s one of my favorite characters!) I felt like Nora’s world opened up just a little wider.  I often tend to prefer the second or third book in a series because they’re usually the stories in which we get the bigger picture (i.e. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Catching Fire, Eclipse etc…).  Where as Hush, Hush was centered almost entirely around Patch and Nora, Crescendo has more plot lines involving other characters—I really like that.

I’m also glad the story wasn’t super predictable.  I kept guessing who was the new “bad guy” in this one and every time was shot down as new suspicions arose.  I was very surprised to find out who the adversary actually was at the end.  No spoilers here!

My only complaint is the way Nora and Patch never really seem to talk or discuss their feelings. Ladies, if you aren’t sure how your boyfriend feels about you or why he’s been hanging around another girl’s house just ask him!  Talk.  Have a conversation.

Other than that tinsey tiny complaint, I loved the Marcie Miller plot line. It explains a little why Nora was making such poor choices.  Not only is someone threatening you, archangels keeping tabs on you, but also there may or may not be another girl in your relationship?  I’d behave like Nora did if I had all that stuff going on at once.

Without giving things away, there is a major cliff hanger at the end of this book, which has me craving the third installment; recently released Silence.   I don’t know why people complain about cliffhangers, I love them!  They get me excited about the next book.  So thank you Becca Fitzpatrick for writing one that totally caught me off guard and that makes me want the third book!

If you’re an older teen (and above) and you enjoyed Hush, Hush try Crescendo.  You wont be disappointed with this page turner.

And if you want more check out the book trailer.

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (October 19, 2010)

Format: Audiobook; 9 hours and 31 minutes

Series: second in the Hush, Hush Saga

Buy the Book: Crescendo (The Hush, Hush Saga)

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Top Ten Tuesday: December New Releases

And its December! The month where we Floridians finally get to start wearing jackets, scarfs and our cute boots! Yes the low is 50 and we’re ready for “cold” weather! Winter also makes me excited about settling into the couch with a blanket, cup of warm tea and a tasty book to read. I’ve chosen ten new December releases to highlight today, all of which sound worthy of a good “couch snuggle” read!

Catching Jordan by Miranda Keneally, Dec.1

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though – she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team… and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Wintertown by Stephen Emond, Dec. 5

Every winter, straight-laced, Ivy League bound Evan looks forward to a visit from Lucy, a childhood pal who moved away after her parent’s divorce. But when Lucy arrives this year, she’s changed. The former “girl next door” now has chopped dyed black hair, a nose stud, and a scowl. But Evan knows that somewhere beneath the Goth, “Old Lucy” still exists, and he’s determined to find her… even if it means pissing her off.

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, Dec. 6

Oh my gosh, I can’t wait! When Tessa discovers that she herself is a Downworlder, she must come to trust her natural enemies, the demon-killing Shadowhunters, if she ever wants to learn to control her powers and find her brother. Torn between the beautiful Will, a Shadowhunter who isn’t what he seems, and the devoted Jem, whose own deadly secret is slowly destroying him, Tessa must draw on all her strength to save her brother and keep herself alive in this deadly new world.

Shattered Dreams: A Midnight Dragonfly Novel by Ellie James, Dec. 6

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She is special. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late.

Illuminated by Erica Orloff, Dec. 8

when sixteen-year-old Callie Martin discovers a diary hidden within an antique book, their story – and hers – takes on another life. For the diary leads Callie to the brilliant and handsome August, who is just as mysterious as the secret the diary hides. Their attraction is undeniable. As the two hunt down the truth behind the diary – and that of Heloise and Abelard’s ancient romance – their romance becomes all-consuming. But Callie knows it can’t last . . . love never does.

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, Dec. 8

Sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine – a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it’s undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe – in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

Maximum Ride Manga, Volume 5 by James Patterson and Nara Lee, Dec. 13

The time has come for Max and her winged “Flock” to face their ultimate enemy and discover their original purpose: to defeat the takeover of “Re-evolution,” a sinister experiment to re-engineer a select population into a scientifically superior master race…and to terminate the rest. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel have always worked together to defeat the forces working against them-but can they save the world when they are torn apart, living in hiding and captivity, halfway across the globe from one another?

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Dec. 27

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship.

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten, Dec. 27

When her boyfriend breaks up with her on the first day of sophomore year, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life. Enter three stunning girls with a magical offer Lucy can’t refuse. All she has to do is get a guy to fall in love with her in the next seven days, and then…break his heart and collect one of his brokenhearted tears.

Love & Leftovers by Sara Tregay, Dec. 27

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summer-house in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “vacation” has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

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Longing for Summer: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Isabel, or Belly, has travelled to Cousins Beach every summer of her life with her mom and brother.  They share a house with their family friend and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher.  Previously Belly has been the little sister who always tags along but that no one really pays much attention to.  So, year after year Belly wishes to be included and watches the boys from a distance, especially moody Conrad.

This year however, is going to be different; Belly can feel it. It’s the first year her older brother doesn’t spend the whole summer with them. Also, it seems like Jeremiah, who’s always been her friend and confidant, is paying more attention to her.  Furthermore, Belly is  determined to finally be over Conrad, but seeing him again brings up old feelings which then cause trouble when a new boy enters Belly’s life.    The summer Belly turned pretty changes everything – for better and for worse.

This one was on my To Read List for a while!  So glad I finally got to it! Belly’s story  makes me long for the beach and summer vacation.

This is the first of Jenny Han’s books I’ve read and I definitely plan on reading more. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Dessen and this book has such a similar feel to Dessen’s novels.  I even found myself wondering how far Han’s Cousins Beach is from Dessen’s beach town of Colby. Maybe one day Han and Dessen will co-author a book where the characters meet; that might be too much cool for me to handle!

Back to reality….Belly is an interesting character.  She makes me remember myself at that age hoping and praying for life to begin; for things to finally get interesting.  Belly is tired of being the one left behind when the guys go out to beach bonfire parties, tired of staying home and watching movies alone with her mom and mom’s friend (although she loves spending time with them too). And Belly is older now, it is time for things to start moving; she’s ready for it.  I think that every girl can attest to asking their teenage selves, “When is it my turn for excitement?”.  But at the same time, Belly is still that little girl.  She wants to be noticed and seen as more mature, but as much as she tries, Belly sometimes reverts back to the little girl threatening to tell her mother.  It’s not all her fault, the boys to goad her, but she sometimes feeds into their expectations of her.    I love Belly for this; the fact that she is struggling with changes in life makes me see myself in her.  I get Belly and I like her.

Belly’s story  makes me long for the beach and summer vacation and even a little bit of my teenage life.  I love that the chapters alternate between Belly’s memories of summers past and the current summer; they really fill in the blanks to the types of relationships Belly has with every other character in the story.  Through these memories you understand the complications of friendship and love as the people involved grow older and life causes change; some joyful and some sad.

This is the first in a series of three about Belly, her time in Cousins Beach and her relationship with the Fisher brothers.   If I can grab the second title, It’s Not Summer Without You, between students snatching it up it’ll soon be in my To Read pile.  I enjoyed this book so much I finished it in, like, two days and it really did make me feel like the warm summer sun was shining on me.

If you enjoy Sarah Dessen’s novels and/or are longing for summer, you’ll most definitely adore The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.

Author: Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (May 5, 2009)

Format: Library Bound Hardcover; 288 pages

Series: First in a series