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!

Etiquette and Espionage [Finishing School series] by Gail Carriger

etiquette and espionageLong-time readers of my blog have suffered through my constant lamentations that everything is a freaking series …  I sometimes read a book not realizing that it is the first in a series (ahem, Cinder) and just about die waiting for the rest of the series to be published.  Back when this book first came out, I knew it was part of a planned series and made the conscious decision to wait until after all of the books were out before I read it.  I had heard it was good and all, but I didn’t hear enough to lure me into actually cheating.  The final book of this series came out in November, so I decided I was ready to binge-read the series (well, binge-listen to the audiobooks) this winter.  Part of me is glad I didn’t have any major gaps of time in between the stories, but part of me is so mad at myself that I didn’t just suck it up and read these from the start.  Such is life, right?!?  Darned if you do, and darned if you don’t!

The Finishing School series is just so amazing that it’s hard to explain, but I will do my best to point out the various things I loved.  The cast of characters, both normal and nefarious, was fabulous.  I think I may have clicked with this series so quickly because Sophronia has a very Georgia Nicholson feel to her — awkward but lovable; smart but bumbling.  She’s awesome enough that readers might want to be like her and not so perfect as to be annoying, you know?  And although it’s a mystery and a fantasy that takes place in a finishing school, it is a lot sillier than Libba Bray’s [Gothic mystery] Gemma Doyle series.  It still had plenty of mystery, and there were conflicts with supernatural creatures aplenty, but there was a much lighter feel to it overall.  Readers who enjoyed the steampunk airships of Oppel’s Airborn series and Westerfeld’s Leviathan series will appreciate the fact that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is held aboard a dirigible.  Not to mention the proliferation of gadgets, like exploding wicker chickens and mechanical wiener dogs!  If you like steampunk, supernatural mysteries, and/or tales of girls who don’t quite fit in with their high society families, I recommend you check this series out.

Happy Reading!

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

flawedCelestine North has always played by the rules. Perhaps that was why she never really thought too hard about the consequences for people who broke them.  I mean, just follow the rules and you don’t have to worry about facing any punishments, right?  In her society, people who break the rules are branded Flawed.  As in actually branded, with a branding iron!  And once they are branded, they are literally second-class citizens who have a different set of rules to live by.  While riding the bus one morning, Celestine finally comes face-to-face with a situation that makes her question everything she’s ever known.  A woman with an injured leg takes one of the Flawed seats on the bus because it affords her more leg room, and then her friend takes the only other Flawed seat to make it easier to converse.  Then an elderly Flawed man gets on the bus, and he is forced to stand.  As he nears collapse from a coughing fit, Celestine tries to help him… and all hell breaks loose.  She ends up on trial for aiding a Flawed person, which could lead to her own Flawed classification.  But how could showing a little human decency ruin her whole life?

Though we don’t actually brand people Flawed in America, I think there are definitely plenty of situations in which Americans turn a blind eye to suffering and persecution under the mistaken impression that those people somehow deserve or earned their lot in life.  I think this would be a fantastic book to read to start a discussion about empathy and the ways people can change their views of “other” people.

Happy Reading!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry-onWhen I read Fangirl last year, I fell hard for Simon, Baz, and the Watford School of Magicks.  I was desperate to read more than was revealed in Cath’s posts.  Fortunately, I happened upon an article about the impending publication of Carry On and knew it was only a matter of time before my wish would come true!  The only problem was that my requests for other books and audiobooks from the library kept showing up, so I kept putting this story off.  (It probably wouldn’t have been such a problem if I had gotten Carry On from the library and had a time limit, but I downloaded it from Audible and knew I had as long as I wanted. #firstworldproblems)

I think what I love most about Rowell’s writing is that it really nails all the nitty gritty, true-to-life details of adolescent friendships and romances.  Carry On was extra awesome because it had all that PLUS magic, mystery, and monsters!  The only things I found disappointing were that (a) I waited so long to actually listen to this audiobook, and (b) there was only one book! 😉  As a die-hard Potterhead, I really enjoyed comparing and contrasting the stories of Simon Snow and Harry Potter.  Some people have argued that this story is too derivative of Harry Potter, but I fully recognize that there are a great many “Chosen One” stories and that having similarities doesn’t make it a rip-off.  After all, some people say that Harry Potter is basically Star Wars!  And though I am not big on re-reading anything, since there are far too many books out there waiting to be read, I have a feeling I will listen to this audiobook (or maybe even read the book) at least one more time…

Happy Reading!

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

these-shallow-gravesJo Montfort is a beautiful young woman whose family is among the social elite of New York City.  She is about to graduate from finishing school and is very likely to wed Bram Aldrich, one of the most sought-after bachelors in high society.  Yet, she isn’t sure that is what she truly wants.  Jo longs to be a writer.  She wants to be an investigative reporter like Nellie Bly, though she knows her family would never approve.  But then, something happens that makes Jo question everything she knows about her family.  Her father is found dead in his study — an apparent gun-cleaning accident.  But Jo knows that her father knew better than to clean a loaded gun, and there are other details that just don’t quite add up.  Will her penchant for investigative reporting and a new friendship with a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher, help her uncover the truth?  Or will Jo’s desire not to upset her family and social order get in the way?

Fans of Donnelly’s A Northern Light will not be disappointed…  I think this story was even better, and I absolutely *loved* ANL!  I also recommend this to fans of Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series and people who enjoyed Manor Of Secrets.  If you like stories of scandal set in the Guilded Age, you definitely need to read this book.

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!