Category Archives: contemporary

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

ask the passengersWhen Astrid Jones and her family moved from New York City to Unity Valley, PA, none of them quite realized how drastically their lives would change.  Astrid’s mom became so concerned with how other people saw her and so controlling that it seemed nothing Astrid did was ever even close to good enough.  Her little sister, Ellis, was so concerned with popularity and upholding her reputation that she’d probably have disowned Astrid if it would have guaranteed her immunity from the rumor mill.  This apparently pleased her mom, though, since she frequently invited Ellis to “mommy and me” nights out.  And their dad?  When he wasn’t moping about his lack of job prospects and smoking pot in the garage or attic, he seemed content enough to sit silently while his wife belittled him in front of the kids. Continue reading

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

that summerAlthough my hubby and I are still sickeningly sweet on each other, I sometimes find my brain wandering and thinking about how it would change my life and/or the lives of our children if we were to get a divorce.  It’s not because I think it’s even a remote possibility, but rather because divorce is just so darn common.  I frequently hear about couples divorcing and how hard it is for the kids who are caught in the middle and have to adjust to a their “new normal.”  Since my parents are still married, as well, I can’t say for sure whether Haven’s experience rings true enough… but, based the popularity of Sarah Dessen’s many books, I can’t imagine she got it wrong! Continue reading

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

100 sideways milesEver the sucker for a cool book cover, it only took one glance at this book for me to decide I *had* to read it.  The fact that I loved Winger, also by Andrew Smith, certainly didn’t hurt.  I have to admit, though, that I had a hard time getting into this story at first.  Perhaps I was just too tired to “get it,” since I do most of my pleasure reading at bedtime, but I felt myself getting kinda lost in the beginning.  It reminded me of how I felt when I read The Marbury Lens — which makes a lot of sense, considering the fact that Andrew Smith also wrote that book.  In the beginning, there were a few moments where I thought to myself, “Wait!  Was that supposed to be the ‘real’ Finn or the character [also named Finn] from his dad’s book?”  In hindsight, I guess it may have been written like that on purpose, since Finn often felt trapped in his father’s story, but it made me feel a little crazy not to know what was going on!  Fortunately, things got less confusing and everything fell (more or less) into place by the end of the story.
Continue reading

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

once was lostIt’s always fun to escape real life in the pages of a book, and I find it somehow more satisfying to read a book about a sweltering summer heat wave when I’m living through a snow-filled winter storm.  Add that to the fact that all of Sara Zarr’s books are pretty darn amazing, and you have a fantastic reason to read this book right now!
Continue reading

The F- It List by Julie Halpern

f-it_listI read this book in early fall, but I felt like it would make a good January post.  You know, with people making New Year’s resolutions about living their best lives and all?  After almost losing my father in September, this book really resonated with me.  I know it sounds super cliché, but both my real life experience and this book reminded me of just how short life can be — and how often we waste our time and energy on things that don’t even truly matter.  Sometimes, you just have to say “F- IT!”   Continue reading

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

naturalsThough it’s been quite a while since I’ve watched TV on a regular basis, I have to admit that I used to be absolutely obsessed with true crime shows like Law & Order and Criminal Minds.  I could seriously binge-watch Criminal Intent like it was my job.  So, I was thrilled to discover that this story was basically an extended episode of Criminal Intent with teenage trainees thrown in the mix!  This story also reminded me quite a bit of the Jasper Dent books because Cassie was so much like Jasper — she was unbelievably good at reading people AND that she was also hunting a killer.  The main difference, nevertheless, was that she was hunting the killer who murdered her mom whereas Jasper was hunting a random killer as a way to prove (to society and himself) that he didn’t/wouldn’t take after his serial killer dad.  Continue reading

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

memoirsI remember seeing this cover, reading the title, and thinking, “That looks interesting!”  I was especially curious about the story behind the old fashioned typewriter keys on the cover.  Yet, somehow, SEVEN years went by before I actually took the time to listen to it.  How in the world did *that* happen?!?  (Especially considering the fact that I listened to, and thoroughly enjoyed, her book Elsewhere!)  I guess this is a case of “better late than never,” right?  I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to have amnesia and, though this wasn’t a true story, it helped me to realize just how grateful I am for my fully intact memories.  It’s terrifying to consider the sudden loss of years worth of my life and to even forget the people I love.  Continue reading