Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vacation Reads


Can you believe it's July already? 2015 has been crazy so far and I have no idea what happed to my intended blogging time. I spent three months interning at a publisher's house in Hamburg, went on vacation to Denmark and recently threw a big birthday party for my grandfather. It's been a great time, but I really do miss blogging and talking about books here on the blog and on Twitter. Here's at least an attempt at returning to a more constant and frequent blogging schedule. So I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures from my Denmark vacation and the books I read in the three weeks on the beach.

First I read all six books in the BLOODLINES series by Richelle Mead. It took about a week. And I had a massive Adrian Ivashkov hangover after that epic binge read, I assure you. Out of the six BLOODLINES books I liked SILVER SHADOWS best. It had action and certainly the best parts of Syndey and Adrian's romance. This series is definitely a must-read for everyone who enjoyed the VAMPIRE ACADEMY books!
   After vampires and a great series I decided to read the second VERONICA MARS book, MR. KISS AND TELL by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. It was so good to be back in Neptune because Veronica still rocks! Another YA thriller I read was THE KILLING WOODS by Lucy Christopher which was a complete disappointment. I'm not even sure I want to write a review about it.
   WHEN YOU WERE HERE by Daisy Whitney and SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen and #SCANDAL by Sarah Ockler where all quite enjoyable reads, not entirely what I expected them to be though. 

So far I haven't had so much luck with picking brilliant five-star reads in 2015. I would have expected to find most of them among my summer reads, but out of the eleven books I read while on vacation I would only name SILVER SHADOWS a true 5-star read. I'm really counting on your summer reads recommendations in the comments!

Q! I could really use a few more awesome YA contemporary reads. What have you read so far this summer? 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Blog Tour: The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski - Deleted Scene

Welcome to the Jersey Shore! A very fabulous summer lies ahead of you. And if you want to make it perfect you just have to grab a copy of Jennifer Salvato Doktorski's newest book! As part of the Sourcebooks Fire blog tour I'm sharing a deleted scene from the original draft of THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME today. Enjoy!

Will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?

For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn’t just the perfect summer escape, it’s home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can’t help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.

Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy’s summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.

About the Author:

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of two YA novels and is a freelance nonfiction writer. Her first paid writing gig was at The North Jersey Herald & News, where she wrote obituaries and began her lifelong love of news and coffee. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Want to buy a copy? Here are some links: Amazon | Apple | BAM  |  B&N  |  Chapters  | Indiebound


The Sumer After You and Me - Deleted Scene

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski: "A few scenes from THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME didn’t make the cut. This is one of them. In the original draft, Connor convinces Lucy that she and Andrew should go on a double-date with him and his girlfriend, Bryn. The two couples drive together to a party “OTB” (Over the bridge) in Toms River, which is the town across the Barnegat Bay from Seaside Park. In this scene, Connor, Bryn, Lucy, and Andrew are returning home from the party in Connor’s father’s car. They’ve just pulled into the driveway that separate’s Connor’s house from Lucy’s."

“Who’s that?” Bryn asks as the car rolls past Liam toward the detached garage in back of the Malloy house. It’s funny how their garage survived the storm but our guest cottage didn’t. The devastation caused by the storm is disturbing on so many levels, but the randomness compounds everyone’s frustrations and feelings of futility.
“My brother,” I say.
“Really? You look nothing alike.”
We’ve heard that one all our lives. If you ask me, he got the better deal in the DNA shuffle. Mom’s blue eyes, Dad’s jet black hair, skin that turns mocha brown. It trumps brown eyes, dirty blond hair that needs heavy doses of sunlight to turn golden, and skin that requires SPF of fifty or above.
“They’re twins,” Andrew says as he opens his car door.
“Really?!” Color Bryn shocked. “I guess they’re not identical,” she says.
Should I bother to tell her boy/girl twins are never identical? It’s another thing that gets so old.
“Boys and girls can’t be identical twins.” Connor sounds annoyed as he opens his door. “They’re always fraternal.”
“That’s what I said.” Bryn says once she’s out of the car. “They look nothing alike.”
I roll my eyes at Andrew and slide across the seat to get out on his side of the car. For some reason, I don’t want to end up standing next to Bryn.
Connor puts out a hand to shake Andrew’s. “Thanks for coming man,” he says.
“Thanks for the ride,” Andrew says. “We should do it again. I may be working at Rafferty’s this summer. You should come hang out.”
No, no, no! There will be no hanging out with Connor and Bryn. It’s already too weird, confusing, unnecessary and… what else? There’s got to be more. Bryn joins us on our side of the car puts her arm around Connor’s waist and snuggles against him. Oh, yeah. Depressing.
“Well, good night!” I say, desperate to wrap things up and walk over to my yard. “Have a safe trip back and enjoy the prom.”
“When’s your prom?” Andrew asks. “Ours is June fourteenth.”
“Bryn’s is the night before,” Connor says.
“A Thursday?”
“Friday is senior cut day,” Bryn explains. “Everyone goes away for a long weekend after prom.”
That’s right. Connor mentioned they’d be here for prom weekend. Maybe Andrew and I should go away. Yeah, right. My parents aren’t letting me go anywhere overnight with a boy. Even if that boy is Andrew.
“Well, see ya,” I say. Making a second attempt to end this night.
“Later,” Andrew says.
When we’re finally in my yard, Andrew walks me with onto the back porch and kisses me goodnight at the kitchen door.
“Coming to the annual Clark Memorial Day par-tay tomorrow?” Andrew asks.
“Please tell me you don’t use the phrase par-tay around anyone but me.”
Andrew pretends to get all serious. “I’m sorry I can’t do that. So are you coming or what?”
“Of course. Right after work. I wouldn’t miss it.”
My parents and Liam usually go too. The Clarks throw quite a bash. I’ve always envied Andrew’s parents fun-loving ways. They seem happiest when they have a house and yard full of people. My parents don’t exactly go out of their way to entertain.
“See you tomorrow,” I say before I close the door.
“Text me when you’re leaving work.”
“I will.”
Yay for work! I’m thrilled that I won’t be around at all tomorrow. Won’t have to see Connor and Bryn getting into his pick-up together and driving off toward the Garden State Parkway.
I lock the backdoor then surreptitiously peek out front to see if Liam’s still on the porch. He isn’t. I lock the front door since Liam didn’t of course. At the landing on the top of the steps, I pause and listen for signs of movement in Liam’s room. Hearing the familiar discordant thrum! I know he just plunked down his acoustic in its stand. Good. He’s in there. Locking my brother out would be bad.
As quickly and quietly as possible, I scamper up to my room. Avoiding Liam feels wrong. So did double-dating with Connor. I wasn’t exactly honest with Andrew about how that came about. So yeah, I get why Liam’s annoyed with me, but I haven’t really forgiven him for sabotaging and severing my connection to Connor back in the fall. My brother has no right to be angry with me, not when he was the one who caused the unsettling turn my love life has taken.
My eyes cut to my bedroom window. Before turning on the light, I cross the room to pull down the shade. Outside Connor is alone in his driveway. He’s leaning against the trunk of his father’s car, looking down at his phone. I watch the top of his head for a few seconds, wondering if he’s going to look up. My vantage point, both the height and the angle, remind me of that day in October. I paused at the top of the grand staircase when I saw Connor near the entranceway studying a framed seascape in muted pastels. I held my breath. Wondering if he’d meant everything he’d just said and trying to picture waking up every morning and finding him there. He must have felt me staring. For once, I wasn’t being sneaky about it and the expression on his face when our eyes locked told me I didn’t have to be, not anymore.
I felt like we covered so much ground that day; that we became an “us”. Look at me now, I think as I stand hidden in the shadows of my room, back where I started. I guess it’s where I belong. I wait one second more for Connor to look up. When he doesn’t, I pull the shade down and go to bed.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Great Pre-Order Campaign + Excerpt: Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Any Miranda Kenneally fans here? I know I am a huge fan of her books and will definitely pre-order a copy of her newest book, JESSE'S GIRL, coming July 2015. So have you heard about the huge pre-order campaign Sourcebooks is running? You don't want to miss this! I'm sharing the details below and have a fun excerpt of JESSE'S GIRL for you, too. 

 Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?


Pre-Order Campaign

In celebration of Miranda’s new book, Sourcebooks Fire is offering some really cool stuff for readers, fans, etc.

Everyone who emails will automatically receive an email of the EXCLUSIVE Jesse’s Girl Playlist, and will be invited to attend a LIVE online author event on July 6, the day before Jesse’s Girl goes on-sale!

In addition, if you pre-order the book and send your proof of purchase (and mailing address) to, you’ll not only get the exclusive playlist and event invite, but you’ll also receive a signed/personalized bookplate, a super-cute custom guitar pick, and entered to win a $300 gift card to TicketMaster so you can go to a concert or musical or some other fun event.


Jesse's Girl - Excerpt

As much as I love music, I am generally not a fan of country. I don’t like banjos. I don’t like sappy lyrics about trucks and hauling hay. Dolly Parton is my mortal enemy—my mom plays “Jolene” over and over and over and over, and it makes me want to chop my ears off like van Gogh. Yeah, yeah, I’m from Tennessee, where it’s a crime if you don’t love country, but I like deep, rumbling beats and singing loud and fast and hard. I do not like closing my eyes and crooning to a cow in the pasture. Yet here I am at a Jesse Scott concert, getting ready to meet him and to see if he’ll let me shadow him next Friday.

My school requires every senior to “shadow” a professional for a day. It’s their way of helping us figure out what kind of career we want. Like, if you want to be president when you grow up, you might get to shadow the mayor. Want to be a chef? Have fun kneading dough at the Donut Palace. When I said “I want to be a musician,” I figured they’d send me to work in the electronics section at Walmart.

I certainly never expected to shadow the king of country music.

It turns out that Jesse Scott is my principal’s nephew. Jesse won TV’s Wannabe Rocker when he was ten and has gone on to become very successful. In sixth grade, every girl in class—myself included—took the Teen Beat quiz: “Would Jesse Scott Like Your Kissing Style?” (Obviously the answer was yes.) In middle school, I had a Jesse Scott poster on my ceiling. It’s hard to believe he’s only eighteen, because he’s already won three Grammys. When he was younger, his songs were about family, fishing, and playing baseball, but lately they’re about love and making love and all things sexy.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan anymore, but I would never give up an opportunity to learn from a professional with such a gorgeous, pure voice. I want to learn what it’s like to perform day in and day out. Despite what everyone and their mom says—that I’ll struggle as a musician—all I want is to play guitar in front of a crowd and hear people cheer for me.

I can’t believe I’m backstage at the Grand Ole Opry! I bounce on my toes. Jesus, is that an archtop Super 4, the model Elvis played? I’ve never seen one in real life. It probably cost more than my house. I’m ogling the guitar when Jesse Scott comes out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He pads across the room to the couch, wearing nothing but a pair of rugged jeans with more holes than Swiss cheese. The lighting is dim, and he doesn’t seem to notice I’m here, which is good, because I’ve moved from ogling the guitar to ogling him.

Who wouldn’t? He was one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” and it is a truth universally acknowledged that you should stare at people who’ve made that list. The guy’s gorgeous. Like in the boy-next-door way. His wet, wavy, brown hair curls around his ears and nearly hits his shoulders, and while he doesn’t have a six-pack or anything, his body is fit. I wish he’d look my way so I can see his famous brown eyes. They always remind me of those caramel chews Poppy gives me when I visit. Jesse has some sort of Gaelic symbol tattooed on his left shoulder blade. I want to reach out and trace the design.

God, get ahold of yourself, Maya. Don’t be a horndog. Besides, he’s so not my type. I don’t do pretty boys.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Teaser: Unleashed by Sophie Jordan

""I'm sorry. Just go away. Leave me alone. Please leave me alone." The mantra trips from my lips, picking up speed.
   His guttural, barely-there voice reaches me. I lock up, all of me freezing tight as I search his shadow, straining to hear the hoarse stretch of a single word. "Never."
   The solitary word tears through me like a rusty wire. Of course he's never going away. I killed him."  ― p. 28

Friday, March 6, 2015

Behind The Pages #11 - Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Welcome to my new Behind The Pages post! You can find last month's post of this feature, with Sara Raasch and Snow Like Ashes, here. Today I'm sharing four pages Moriah McStay annotated from her debut novel EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU. A fantastic 2015 release!


One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Moriah McStay grew up in Memphis, TN, where she acquired a come-and-go drawl and a lifelong love of cowboy boots and fried pickles. She attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Two graduate degrees and seven jobs later, she finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up.

EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU is her first novel, and she's probably at home right now working on another one. (Goodreads)

Get in touch with Moriah

Buy Everything That Makes You


Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay


Snap Shots
Moriah sent me a few pictures of Otherlands, which is a real coffee shop. While she was writing EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU, she didn't have an office yet and most of the book was written and edited at Otherlands!


Here’s a list of some songs Moriah thinks Fiona would probably have on her iPod. Fi isn’t a big music person—she’d be looking at apps for sports stats!

"Falling in Love At A Coffee Shop" by Landon Pigg
"The Child is Gone" by Fiona Apple
"Good Man" by Josh Ritter
And anything by Neko Case and Amy LaVere!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mini Reviews #29

This week I wrote three (not so short) reviews of YA contemporary novels that have very special protagonists with immensely emotional stories. EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU by Moriah McStay, BETTER THAN PERFECT by Melissa Kantor and THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Cynthia Hand are three fabulous reads that I can all recommend!

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

"One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.
   And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?"(Goodreads)
   EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU is one fabulous debut! The story is told from the perspectives of Fiona, the girl with the scars, and Fi, the girl without the scars. What a smart idea to explore the numerous possibilities of two alternate lives. How one accident never happening would change the life of one girl, influence her self-confidence, her perception and her relationships. I loved that Fiona was the girl we got to met first. She is the broken one, but she is also the original and she really deserves to tell her story.  
   It is set in their eleventh grade, twelfth grade and college freshman year. This arrangement was very attractive because it allows us to get a feel for their stories without getting lost in too many details while allowing a glimpse at the future. 
   This debut also shines with its two beautiful love stories! I have massive crushes on Trent and Jackson. Fi and Fiona's love stories are messy, romantic, tragic. They are perfect with all their imperfections!
   With EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU Moriah McStay wrote a twofold emotional story about Fiona, the scarred girl who has to make brave decisions and Fi, the perfectly intact girl who has to cope with an incredible loss and romantic complications of the best friend kind. I loved them both!

4,5/5 ****/* EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU - A sensible read about one very special girl.

Moriah McStay tells EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU with an incredibly gentle and heart-warming finesse. The moment Moriah McStay decided to make her debut novel about two alternate lives for a girl with a face deformity, she won this reader as a big fan of her writing. I can't wait to find out what her next project will be.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publishing Date: March 17th 2015
Length: 352 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, friendship, college
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary  
Author's Homepage

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

"Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.
   But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?"(Goodreads)
   BETTER THAN PERFECT was a great read, because it represents themes, problems and inner conflicts many young adults can relate to.
   Juliet's family has massive problems caused by the divorce of her parents. Her mother tried to kill herself and failed. Now Juliet has to deal with her shock and grief. Juliet has to find a way to trust her father again and to let him be a part of her life, too. Her relationship to her parents is delicate and it takes a lot of work and trust to forge a new bond, to make their love stronger than before. I was emotionally involved in their family drama from the first pages. 
  Her family's instability is suddenly causing problems in other parts of her life, too. She isn't sure of going to Harvard anymore, that she wants to be together forever with her boyfriend Jason, that she wants to spend her days studying only. BETTER THAN PERFECT is about a teenager whose life is turned upside down with one tragic event and learning to find out what she really wants in life. The emotional changes, small and big, her decisions and feelings were absolutely understandable, making Juliet an incorruptible protagonist readers will root for. Melissa Kantor told her story with great sensitivity and skill.
   Juliet's decision to join Declan's band turns her controlled world around. The band scores with their Irish charm. I loved the passionate, care-free feel music added to Juliet's story. Just like her feelings for Declan did. Juliet and Declan's story isn't your typical YA love story, but something different to get lost in.

4/5 **** BETTER THAN PERFECT - A sensitive and optimistic story about family, new love and a new awareness of life! 

Juliet was such a congenial protagonist because even though she seems to have everything, we fast learn that she is vulnerable and indecisive, too. Her life isn't as perfect as everyone thinks. I love stories like BETTER THAN PERFECT which have great character development to offer. Melissa Kantor's newest book was an altogether comforting and empowering read.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: February 17th 2015
Length: 336 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, family, friendship, divorce, music
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary  
Author's Homepage

"The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment. Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be. As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything. Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on."(Goodreads)
   THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE is a contemplative and moving YA contemporary read by Cynthia Hand. From past reading experience with her UNEARTHLY series I knew that I could rely on Cynthia Hand's excellent writing. I knew her protagonist Lex would be one character worth getting to know.
   Only a few pages into Lex's story, I noticed that hers was the story of her brother, too. How Lex lives her life is strongly connected to the fact that she just lost her brother. So through Lex's perspetive we find out what kind of person Tyler was, why the love for his family wasn't enough to keep him alive. It wasn't at all easy for Lex and the reader to understand Tyler's suicide. So it takes some time for the story to reveal details and insights about his death. Who wouldn't understand that Lex is in shock and emotional disturbance?
   I was so glad that Lex still had her parents, Steven and friends who supported her. Despite her separation from Steven, he is still her anchor and someone she deeply cares about. Theirs is a very cautious and delicate love story, perfectly in tune with the story's overall spirit. 
   Because she can't deal with her feelings on her own Lex has to see someone. She writes down her thoughts about her brother and what hurtful and dark thoughts are occupying her mind. Sometimes the story markedly slowed down when Alexis had her therapy sessions or was writing about past memories. There isn't anything super exciting about Lex's story, anything that is overly surprising or nerve-wracking. This story's power lies more in the quiet and character-wise strong and moving moments.

4/5 **** THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE - A brave story about loss, recovery and, most important, love.

After BOUNDLESS, the last book in Cynthia Hand's UNEARTHLY series, readers definitely knew about her talent for delicate, sometimes teary and emotionally complex plots. I would describe THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE as a quiet read, more on the contemplative side. What deeply touched me was that Cynthia Hand can in some way relate to the story she wrote for Lex and her brother Tyler. She did a great job with her newest book!

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: February 10th 2015
Length: 400 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, tragedy, suicide, family, romance
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary  
The Last Time We Say Goodbye Excerpt  
Author's Homepage

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mini Reviews #28

In my new Mini Reviews post in February I'm sharing three daring YA reads with you. ON THE EDGE by Allison van Diepen was one of my favourite books last year. AFTER HOURS by Claire Kennedy is a debut novel, coming out in June 2015. And LIES I TOLD by Michelle Zink is released in April 2015.

On the Edge by Allison van Diepen

"Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn't, she wouldn't have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.
But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?" (Goodreads)
   At first Lobo's identity is a mystery for Maddie. Mystery is always a good strategic element to catch a reader's first attention. It takes some time for Maddie to find out who her secret hero is. But when she does, she finds out everything. Lobo's past is moving and his loyalty and passion should win over every last indecisive reader. His and Maddie's love story is emotional and intense and one of those live-in-the-moment kinds that can only get better with each page.
   The Miami setting Allison van Diepen picked is perfect for ON THE EDGE. Criminality, gangs and the threat they pose to Maddie and Lobo make the story a fine thrill ride.

5/5 ***** ON THE EDGE - An enticing and thought-provoking YA read with a unique message.

This book is a statement and appeal for civil courage and awareness. Allison van Diepen makes the issue of human trafficking the central theme of her new YA book. Being the author of seven teen novels, one notices her writing routine and her feel for a good story. Maddie and Lobo's smouldering romance is skilfully woven into a rousing story filled with high criminal energy, team spirit and the fight for justice.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: November 25th 2014
Length: 304 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, thriller, gangs, criminality, romance, Miami
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary  
On the Edge Excerpt  
Author's Homepage

After Hours by Claire Kennedy

"Isa, Xavi, Peter, and Finn know that a job at the high-end Waterside Cafe isn't just about waiting tables. It's about the gossip, the hook-ups, the after-hours parties and, most of all, it's about Tips. Tips--the high-stakes game based on dares. Whoever completes the most dares wins the collected money. A sum that could change a wasted summer into a Summer to Remember." (Goodreads)
   AFFTER HOURS was a fast read for me, because at first all four characters presented us with engaging personal stories, secrets and wishes. I was quickly drawn into the game of Tips, too. It held many possibilities to steamy and entertaining dares. I thought Claire Kennedy's debut could be a hot YA read,  maybe even as good as some of my favourites.
   To sum up, I can say that my initial adoration for the story, Isa and Finn's initial attraction and Xavi and Peter's forbidden romance, quickly turned into incredulity halfway through AFTER HOURS. I have no understanding for Claire Kennedy turning the game into a shady, sleazy business. 
   Characters are allowed to make mistakes. I get that. But they should also get the chance to learn from them. Finn's secret was almost repulsive and Isa was a total drama queen. Xavi and Peter were too naive to be good for them.

2/5 ** AFTER HOURS - Exaggerated dares, impossible teenage behaviour and ignorant characters.

This debut, I had been looking forward to with excitement, turned out to be a letdown in the end. With Isa, Xavi, Peter and Finn we've got four narrators. So much fun, I  had thought! But none of them lived up the my expectations, given many opportunities to behave responsibly and never embracing them. This story was simply too messed up for me to recognize the special debut spark I'd seen in the premise.

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: June 16th 2015
Length: 256 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, game, restaurant
Source: Edelweiss

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

"What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you've told yourself? Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family. But it’s all a lie.Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines' biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught...including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark." (Goodreads
Grace and her brother's past is a sad one. Sympathy points for that! Now their adoptive parents are using them, all for a lousy coup. I couldn't take these people seriously sometimes. The parents were simply infuriating characters!
   Grace's story is also about learning how to be an ordinary teenager and have fun, make new friends. I was curious how a life built on lies would be for a teen. Her life style came across as a daring social experiment I wanted to see the result to, but in the end all the plotting and deceiving and espionage were too much for me and her family's means to reach their goal only seemed ridiculous. 
Grace and Logan were a cute couple, but their love was a victim to Grace's lies, too.
   One thing that kept me reading was Grace's relationship to her brother. Because in the moments the two of them got to talk about their feelings I finally felt like I was witnessing a real and honest connection between two people in this book.
   I would be happy about a sequel to LIES I TOLD. It could turn the story in a different direction and possibly encourage me to rethink my opinion about this first book. Not sure if there will be a sequel though.

2,5/5 **/* LIES I TOLD - A big con, betrayal and the struggles of a teen torn between right and wrong, family and love.

Grace's story is based on deception and lies. My first instinct was to feel compassion for her, the poor girl who was coerced into criminal operations. That changed quickly some chapters into the story and a few rather uneventful, overly descriptive pages later. I read LIES I TOLD as a standalone and while the story had potential, I was disappointed that it missed out on the morale in the end.  

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: April 7th 2015
Length: 352 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, lies, deception, fake identity
Source: Edelweiss
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