Category Archives: contemporary

Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler

infinite-in-betweenI’m always amazed when authors can take several different characters and tell one story through their various points of view — especially when they are so very different as the characters in this story.  Here, we have five different teens who meet for the first time at their high school’s freshman orientation day and write letters to themselves to open again when they graduate.  Zoe is the daughter of a famous movie star [who is in and out of rehab], and she’s afraid that people only ever want to talk to her to find out more about her mom.  Jake isn’t quite sure where he stands now that he opened up about his true feelings for his [formerly?] best friend Teddy and bailed on football.  Mia is so unsure of herself that she keeps trying to reinvent her persona with the hopes that she will eventually “find” a Mia she can be comfortable with.  Gregor is a band geek who is hoping for “more” out of his high school experience — especially if that “more” would involve Whitney.  And Whitney is the pretty/popular girl who seems to have it all while she actually feels like her life is coming apart at the seams.

We follow these characters in their journey through high school and witness how even the smallest of bonds and seemingly minor interactions can actually make a big difference in people’s lives.  My only problem with this book is that it felt a little too condensed.  It felt like there could have been more character development and more interaction if only there were time…  I almost wish it had been stretched out into a series so we could get more details from each year.  Who knows?  Maybe there will be some novellas released to give readers extra background and to fill in the gaps of each school year.  (A girl can dream, can’t she?!?)

Happy Reading!

100 Days by Nicole McInnes

100-daysAgnes and Moira are just about as opposite as two girls can be, at least as far as appearance is concerned.  Agnes is tiny, frail, and pretty much looks like a little old lady [because she has a medical condition called Progeria].  Moira, on the other had, is rather big.  Too big, as far as she and the school bullies are concerned.  Her bigger size is definitely a benefit of their friendship, though, because she can be a bodyguard of sorts for Agnes — who might be safer if she were homeschooled but prefers to live as “normally” as possible by attending public school.  Boone is a guy they both used to be friends with in elementary school, but something happened that caused the girls to stop talking to him.  When fate leads them to, unexpectedly, start spending time together again, their past seriously complicates the present.  Agnes appears to think Boone deserves a second chance, but Moira seems determined to keep Boone from getting too close again.  Since they’re all-too-aware that Agnes has already exceeded the standard  life-expectancy of a kid diagnosed with Progeria, though, Moira and Boone begrudgingly give in to Agnes’ pleas to spend more time together.

This book would be a great conversation-starter for so many topics — friendship, bullying, and body image just to name a few.  I won’t lie and say that this is an easy read, because it’s clear from the start that Agnes doesn’t have long to live and that Moira and Boone already have some major issues they’re dealing with.  I will say, though, that I think McInnes did a fantastic job of weaving together these characters in a story that is both believable and capable of providing some hope and direction to teens who might be handling difficult situations in their own lives.

Happy Reading!

With Malice by Eileen Cook

with-maliceJill Charon can’t remember anything that happened in the past six weeks. When she first awakens from her coma, in fact, she is initially concerned that she is waking up with a terrible hangover and that her mother will find out she was drinking the night before. Imagine her shock, then, when she discovers that she is actually waking up in the ICU after a horrific car crash.  Jill is worried that her parents won’t let her take her scheduled trip to Europe now that she has a broken leg, but that’s not really a concern.  You see, she doesn’t need a speedy recovery to go to Europe because she already took the trip — and the car accident actually took place in Italy.  To make matters worse, her parents are acting very strangely and being weirdly quiet about the accident.  Why?  Because her best friend died in that accident… And many people believe that Jill purposely crashed the car. Will she ever be able to recover the memories she lost?  How will she be able to move on with her life if she never remembers?  And what if Jill *does* start to regain her memories only to uncover something she would rather not remember?

Happy Reading!

The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

the-new-guyJules McCallister-Morgan is a no-nonsense, over-achieving, OCD kind of girl. Considering the fact that I was a lot like her in high school, I found it kinda funny to see how often I caught myself wishing she would just relax a little and enjoy her final year of high school.  Even the teacher who acted as advisor to the school paper, Mr. Wheeler, expected that Jules would relax a little once she hit senior year and actually scored the position of Editor… But then her rival for the editor position, Sadie, went and started a new student-run TV program called TALON and all bets were off.  As far as Jules was concerned, that was an act of war!  Mr. Wheeler did his best to keep the rivalry from getting out of control, but he didn’t stand a chance against a bound and determined Jules (not to mention the other newspaper staff members who were upset).  Things might not have gotten so heated if Alex hadn’t betrayed her, but what else could you expect when a super-cute, former boy-band member comes into your school and dates you but then works with your arch nemesis?!?

Is this book very realistic for most teens?  Probably not.  Was it extremely entertaining?  Absolutely!  If you want drama and romance in a book that will make you alternately laugh out loud and groan with frustration over a “smart” girl who can be pretty clueless at times, I suggest you check this one out!

Happy Reading!

All the Feels by Danika Stone

all-the-feelsLiv didn’t just hate the end of the final Starveil movie… It ruined her life.  As far as Liv was concerned, Starveil *was* life, and the death of her favorite character (Spartan) might as well have been the death of a family member.  Her mom and her best friend, Xander, didn’t really understand, but at least the rest of the fandom got it.  For a while, Liv simply moped about and grieved.  But then she had some take-out Chinese food and was inspired by a fortune cookie — It’s up to you to make your happy ending.  All of the sudden, she knew what she had to do.  Armed with a new (anonymous) Twitter account and some awesome , Liv set out to inspire the fandom and to seek out “evidence” that #SpartanSurvived!

Since my husband is one of the biggest Star Wars fanboys around and had a majorly difficult time accepting what happened in Episode VII, I read the description and just *knew* I had to read this book.  Whether you are a fangirl/fanboy or simply know someone else who is, this geeky romance is sure to give you #AllTheFeels.

Happy Reading!

It’s All Your Fault by Paul Rudnick

its-all-your-faultWhen I saw that this book was going to be published, I requested it from my local library without even reading the description.  (Seriously.)  Gorgeous was one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read, and I just knew that this book would be the same.  PRO TIP:  Laughing out loud when someone is trying to read something else in the same room and constantly interrupting what they are reading to share the funniest parts — of which there were, apparently, far too many — is NOT a good idea!  (I am trying to convince my husband that he should read this book now that I am done with it, but he seems to think I probably gave away “half of the story, or at least all the best parts” and doesn’t need to bother.  His loss!) 😉

Caitlin Mary Prudence Rectitude Singleberry (aka Catey) is, and always has been, a good Christian girl.  She attends church regularly, is homeschooled by her devout parents, and performs in her family’s Christian band The Singing Singleberries.  She WAS looking forward to attending college in the fall and eventually settling down with a good Christian boy to start a family of her own… but her entire future is now in jeopardy.  She is not usually one to blame anyone else for her own actions, but she is adamant that none of this would have happened if not for her crazy cousin Heller.  That’s right, the girl’s name is HELLER!  And, as far as Catey is concerned, Heller might very well be Satan in corporeal form.  Heller is a wild and crazy teen star who has gotten so out of control (a la Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan) that her mom begged Catey to come to New York City and act as a chaperone of sorts during the premier weekend of YA book-to-movie blockbuster Angel Wars.

Since the book opens up with Catey listing out all of the crazy/illegal things she did during the previous 48 hours, and mentioning that she is currently in jail, it is easy for readers to side with her from the start.  Heller may have been cast to play an angel in that movie, but she is far from an angel in real life.  I like how the story alternates between the past and the present to slowly reveal what happened (over that weekend and four years prior, when they girls parted ways).  This book takes readers on a wild and crazy ride that runs the gamut from uproarious, to heartwarming, and and everything in between.

Happy Reading!

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

you-were-hereHigh school graduation is often a time filled with celebration and excitement.  For Jaycee, though, graduation day dredges up feelings of anxiety and depression.  Why?  Because her older brother, Jake, died on his own graduation day.  Jaycee doesn’t know how to handle the fact that she will now, officially, be older than Jake ever was.  Though his death came as the result of a daredevil stunt gone wrong, Jaycee finds comfort in emulating his behavior.  Instead of seeing Jake’s death as a warning to be more careful, she finds herself repeating his stunts in an attempt to channel his spirit.  Jaycee expected to take this journey alone, but she ended up with a motley crew of [former?] friends who also needed to make their peace with Jake’s death.  Guided by Jake’s urban exploring journal, Jaycee followed both literally and figuratively in his footsteps and finally discovered that it’s possible to let go of grief without letting go of her loving memories.

I appreciated getting parts of the story directly from the perspectives of different characters, like Jaycee’s childhood BFF Natalie.  But, more than that, I enjoyed the different storytelling techniques that were employed — like the pictures of the poems Bishop crafted in his sketches and graffiti or the graphic novel panels that told the story of Mik, who refused to speak aloud but whose actions spoke for him.  McCarthy did a fabulous job of showing how the death of a loved one can alternately tear us apart and build us up stronger than before.  I recommend this story to readers who enjoyed See You at Harry’s and Before You Go.

Happy Reading!