Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Title: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing Date: December 10th 2013
Length: 384 pages
Keywords: YA, fiction, sci-fi, space travel, romance, survival
Source: Netgalley

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Summary by Goodreads

Lilac LaRoux and Major Tarver Merendsen are both on board of the gigantic luxury spaceliner prophetically named Icarus when it's thrown out of hyperspace and crashes into the nearest planet. Lilac and Tarver are from different social spheres but after the crash they are the only two people left or so it seems and they have to team up in order to survive and find a way to call for help.
Think of THESE BROKEN STARS as a YA version of Titanic set in space and add a ton of extra dangers, special effects and feels. No reader can say no to that, right?

Amie and Meagan's version of a future galaxy holds many miracles that have you marvelling at their invention and sheer existence. People have colonised numerous planets, changed the texture and feel of so many things and travel through space in the blink of an eye. The story's level of individuality is set very high. Technical details, the construction of the Icarus, the complexion of the new land and each step of Lilac and Tarver's journey, it all felt so complete and well-connected.

Chapters alternate between Lilac and Tarver's perspective. Don't you think men in uniform are extremely sexy? Let me introduce you to Major Tarver Merendsen then, the epitome of a YA hero who makes your heart race and takes your breath away. Despite his simple upbringing he is intelligent, strong and has become a trained soldier and war hero. On the new planet Tarver is not only responsible for his own life, he sees it as his mission to protect society princess Lilac LaRoux at all costs.
A relevant part of THESE BROKEN STARS is about the differences in their upbringings and the planets they are living on (yes, two lovers who are from different planets!). Lilac sees what it means to be out in the world and without her posse for protection. Lilac and Tarver are exploring the new planet they landed on. Is it inhabitable? What dangers and discoveries are awaiting them?

They are both busy following their own goals and intentions. Tarver to get through this mission without being fooled by the heir to the galaxy's richest industry mogul. 
And Lilac...well, let me just say it takes her some time to see clearly again after years of false pretense and hiding behind conventions.
Every subtle change in their ways of thinking and their feelings towards each other was present and poured off the pages right into my heart where there's just so much love for them as individual characters and as a couple. Tarver and Lilac are an explosive combo and their love burns as bright as the brightest star. I have read so many love stories with intimate scenes that often felt simply insufficient whereas Tarver and Lilac's love story was never less than fulfilling and just perfect. Both teens can't fully escape the sadness of their pasts but what would life be worth if they hadn't something wonderful to live for in the future? Hopefully each other! 

The romance of the manly soldier and the delicate society girl is a sexy and powerful one. Their rough edges made them the most fascinatingly interacting characters I have encountered in a very long time. Heated kisses had me swooning, strange happenings really scared me to death and the more emotional parts of their story had me sobbing through the night. Oh my, all the feels! And there is a ton of them! THESE BROKEN STARS became my favourite book of 2013 in only a matter of a few hours.

Sometimes there are key scenes or moments that make you feel at home in a story. Characters you can identify with, places so exciting you want to dive in head first and words so compelling you read them in a kind of trance. THESE BROKEN STARS did that to me and every page made me think: 'Yes, this is exactly my kind of story. I don't want to just read it, but make it my new home and live in it forever!'

5/5 ***** THESE BROKEN STARS –  Space adventure galore of the most splendid kind, an irresistible romance and a universally captivating storyline. Whatever you are looking for in a favourite YA read in 2013, Amie & Meagan's debut has it all and beyond!
The first book in the STARBOUND series is a paramount debut thanks to Amie and Meagan's stellar writing. Exceeding all expectations, THESE BROKEN STARS is a story so finely fabricated you will feel the magic of stars and with it an entirely new futuristic galaxy come to live and unfolding on every single page. Lilac and Tarver's story is resplendent, an emotional firecracker and the galactically good start to a new space trilogy! It's going to be a long long wait until its companion is coming out in 2014.

„There are sheets, we can make a bed. A proper bed, imagine. We won't know what to do with it.“
She's laughing as she speaks.
Oh, trust me, Miss LaRoux. I'd know what to do with it. I can think up a whole list of things, if you like. ― p. 208*

*This quote is taken from the Netgalley provided by Disney Hyperion. It is subject to change before its publication and will be checked against the finished copy when it comes out in December 2013! 

THESE BROKEN STARS you might also enjoy ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, the first sci-fi YA novel set in space I ever read and loved. CINDER by Marissa Meyer isn't set on a spaceship directly but the earth has been reformed and interplanetary travel has been made possible. FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund is a Persuasion by Jane Austen inspired story set in space. It's on top of my TBR pile!

* Make sure to add the second novel in the STARBOUND trilogy to your wishlist!

* For further information about Amie and Meagan visit and

* Thanks to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for the chance to review THESE BROKEN STARS!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mini Reviews # 11

My eleventh Mini Reviews post is dedicated to three YA reads with mythological background. The THE GODDESS TEST series by Aimée Carter just wasn't mine but EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton is a 2012 debut I would always recommend.

Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton

Nikki Beckett spent one-hundred years (equalling a few months in the real world) in a version of the underworld, the Everneath. Now she's back on earth but only for the limited time of six months, to say her goodbyes and spent the rest of eternity in the underworld. The first chapter was confusing at times, the Everneath a strange new sphere but you'll get what's happening when you are a few pages into the story. I really enjoyed the mysterious and hellish setting of the Everneath.
I felt connected to Nikki from the second I met her, thanks to Brodi Ashton who reserves plenty of time to get to know our heroine and her emotional dilemma. Her time in the Everneath, spent with Cole, robbed her of all emotions and she's feeling devastatingly empty. She's so strong despite everything she's lost.
And when she thought she'd lost her will to live, too she falls in love with her ex-boyfriend Jack all over again.
There is an Everneath boy, too. Cole, a very ominous character. He might be a hot rockstar and gather lots of fans around him, but he is also egoistic and kind of a  parasite, drawing Nikki's energy to prolong his own life.
The concept of dependence that somehow binds Nikki, Cole and Jack in a love triangle was what made the relationships intriguing and I liked how both boys have very different meanings for our protagonist. Our present story is interrupted by scenes from the past that help us understand how Nikki got to know both boys and how she ended up in the Everneath.
But truly Cole has nothing on Jack. Jack, Nikki’s ex-boyfriend, Jack who she ran away from many months ago. He is exactly what I needed in this story! He has been waiting for her to return all along and he's willing to sacrifice everything for Nikki. Such an epic love story!

4,5/5 ****/* EVERNEATH-  A smoldering & emotionally charged countdown to a beloved heroine’s ultimate Goodbye.

EVERNEATH was a new kind of story that I fast became absorbed in. Two hotties, one devilish clever, the other angelic sweet, are fighting for Nikki's love and for a way to bind her to their respective worlds. As invitingly hot and daring as the gorgeous cover of EVERNEATH, the story behind it is no different. EVERNEATH is a definite 2012 cover and debut favourite!

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: January 24th 2012
Length: 370 pages
Keywords: YA, fiction, mythology, underworld, romance, love triangle
Source: Netgalley
Author's Homepage

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) by Aimée Carter

Fearing the inevitable death of her mother Kate strikes a deal with a man she just met, Henry or Hades, god of the underworld. She has to take a few tests to prove worthy of becoming Henry's new queen in order to save her mother.
I was looking forward to an impressive test marathon. These kind of stories with game character are often very active and daring and belong to my favourites, like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
THE GODDESS TEST didn't make use of all its possibilites. No grand arena, or crazily exciting tests to endure. The tests are nothing spectacular and often even passed by Kate without us knowing or being told. 
Greek mythologies are full of quarrels and tests, wars and epic love stories and I was drawn to THE GODDESS TEST after reading its summary. I was disappointed to find out Kate and Henry's story was nothing like that. Henry's still in love with his wife Persephone. I appreciated his honesty but ignoring Kate and keeping something important from her is just no way to treat your potential partner and so I just couldn't think of Henry as a genuine love interest. Their romance is defined by the ever same circle of arguments, whiny statements, excuses, I couldn’t hear it any longer.

3,5/5 ***/* THE GODDDESS TEST – A  Greek mythology YA debut for beginners.

Kate's story was one that had so much potential, especially with the tests she has to pass in order to save her mother. THE GODDESS TEST is a well-written debut and even though I wasn't overly enthusiastic about its characters and their romance, its world building and Greek mythology background made for a promising sequel. 

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: April 19th 2011
Length: 293 pages
Keywords: YA, fiction, mythology, gods, romance, tests
Source: Netgalley
Author's Homepage

Kate and Henry's story continues. She might have proven herself to be worthy. She is the one that should have Henry's heart forever, but even after everything they've been through he's keeping his distance and secrets from Kate. No improvement in the romantic department. Both Henry and Kate didn't learn from past mistakes and their so called love story is more a constant fight than pure harmony. Their relationship felt rather pitiful and their constant whining made me furious just like the overall ambiguity and promiscuity of the other gods.
As sad as it sounds (and I hate to say it) but this second book made me like the characters so much less. I don’t think there was a single one that didn’t annoy me at some point.
In the second installment in the THE GODDESS TEST series Henry is abducted and Kate and the other gods set out to save him. A test scenario like the first book offered, only on a bigger, a bit more exciting scale.

2/5 ** GODDESS INTERRUPTED - Our gods and Kate are tested again, and sometimes even your patience.

I'm a fan of YA stories shaped by elements of Greek mythology but obviously having a few gods in the story cast and following their various tests is no guarantee for a book to become a favourite. Aimée's writing is as flawless as in her debut novel, it's just that I couldn't find access to her THE GODDESS TEST characters. I don't give up easily on a series, but I decided to pass on the third book in Aimée's THE GODDESS TEST series.

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: March 27th 2012
Length: 296 pages
Keywords: YA, fiction, mythology, gods, romance, tests
Source: Netgalley
Author's Homepage

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Coveresque feat. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (US vs. French vs. German)

   US                                       French                                    German

It's time for another Coveresque post, this week featuring THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater.
The US cover creates a great contrast between its white background and the black, very dominant raven in the foreground. I really like the blue and red in its feathering. It's not one of those covers who could be confused with a similar cover. I can't think of one that looks like Maggie's THE RAVEN BOYS cover. Can you?

When I look at the French cover I wouldn't expect to find a YA story, more like a classic, behind it. I wouldn't pick up the French copy if I judged only by its cover.

The German cover looks like the cover for a children's book. It's mysterious and darker than the US cover, but kind of youngish, too. There's no raven on the cover but an egg shape around its title. "Wen der Rabe läuft" translates into "Who the raven calls". 
On the right you can see two more THE RAVEN BOYS covers, US paperback and Swedish. 

My favourite is the US (and the paperback cover with the raven boys on it) because it's artsy and memorable just like Maggie Stiefvater. 

Q! Which cover do you like best?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas

Title: From What I Remember
Author: Stacy Kramer, Valerie Thomas 
Publisher: Egmont Electric Monkey
Publishing Date: January 7th 2013
Length: 436 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, friendship, graduation, Mexico
Source: Bought

KYLIE: MEXICO WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.

MAX: It all started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border -- but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can't completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It's even clearer now. And I'm not giving him up without a fight.

Summary by Goodreads

FROM WHAT I REMEMBER is the story of four teens who start their graduation day in a very unusual way. Kylie and Max are waking up in Mexico and it looks like they are married. Kylie's best friend Will probably just had the best night of his life and Max's girlfriend Lily is seething with anger. Their story is like the YA version of The Hangover. Unfortunately there's no hunt for clues or tracing back what happened the night before, but don't you just love stories that present you with an end result, leave much room for speculations and slowly unravel what had to happen for our characters to end up in their current situation? Rewind 48 hours and Kylie and her friends will fill you in on the rest.

Stacy and Valerie's second book is told from five different point of views. Kylie, Max and Will all have something to add to the recreation of the past two days. We learn more about each teen's life at home, their families and plans for their future.
Lily's story didn't give away too much about her life to acutally care about her. I had a feeling her perspective was only part of the story to add a second female main character and a new source for possible conflicts. I could have done without her POV as her issues and story remained mostly unresolved in the end. 

Kylie has always kept to herself. She is studious and goal-oriented and not everyone knows how much fun she can actually be, except Will. Her flamboyant (and gay) best friend is always set out to protect her. He is kind of a stereotype but so free-spirited and hilarious there's only room for an occasional cringe because you will be too busy laughing. Kylie and Will are best friends and throw in movie quotes in their daily conversations all the time. So it's no surprise that each chapter starts with a new movie quote that fits the chapter's content.
Kylie and her younger brother Jake (his is the fifth point of view) are very close and it was very touching too see what his two days without Kylie felt like.
Max was an adorable love interest with one major turn-off, he couldn't once say what he wanted or stand in for his beliefs and the people he cares about. He's got a long way to go but the night with Kylie is his chance for change.

If it weren't for fate, the risky situations they find themselves in and the night away from (almost) everyone and everything they know, I don't know if Max and Kylie would have ever found to each other. In high school they never really took the time to find out who the other person was.
It was the seductive prologoue that had me hooked on FROM WHAT I REMEMBER. I had wished it would continue that way, but the love story wasn't as intense as the first few pages suggested it could be.
Their two days spent together are supplemented with debacles and unfortunate series of events but there's still time for some little romance. Luckily Max and Kylie get to spent the main part of the story on their own in a scenic Mexican city that serves as background to our colorful, crazy and reckless adventure of a night.

4/5 **** FROM WHAT I REMEMBER – An energizing and comical night to remember.

Fate (and Stacy and Valerie) sent Max and Kylie on a venturous trip to Mexico, a vacation from their old routines, showing them that one night can change everything. Currently there is no announcement about a new book by Valerie and Stacy but I'll keep an eye on their blog! 

"I'm a total headcase."
"Maybe, but it's sexy. Really sexy."
Max flashes me a huge grin. God, he's gorgeous.
" So can we just be with each other and see what happens?"
" Yes. We can. We totally can," I say.
And then, without thinking too much about it, I climb on top of Max and slowly, very slowly, lean down until our faces are nearly touching. ― p. 265

FROM WHAT I REMEMBER you might also enjoy DITCHED by Robin Mellom telling the story of a crazy prom night. I haven't read 7 CLUES TO WINNING YOU by Kristin Walker, but its accumulation of catastrophes sounds just like Max and Kylie's story. THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger isn't as much about an unfortunate series of events as a very hot love story between two teens who prove that opposites attract.  

* Click here to read an excerpt of FROM WHAT I REMEMBER!

* Read an interview with Stacy and Valerie about working together and movie quotes.

* For further information about Stacy and Valerie visit

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publishing Date: Steptember 10th 2013
Length: 433 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, college, friendship, fan fiction
Source: Netgalley

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Summary by Goodreads 

Who is that fangirl everyone is talking about? She is inconspicuous, modest, dedicated and spends most of her days in front of her laptop writing new fan fiction. Cath and her twin sister Wren are about to start college, a more grown-up part of their lives. But Cath can't let go of the books that have kept her company for so many years.

Fandom and fan fiction are the overall theme of FANGIRL. Rainbow's third book teaches us that fan fiction can be a very important part of a teenager's life. Through their writing teens get a chance to stay with their beloved characters, expand their imagination, express their creativity and get in contact with other fans.

A fan can be found in every reader, too. How often have we read a book and couldn't stop talking and thinking about it? There are countless book worlds I would've loved to spent more time in. I don't read fan fiction nor have I ever written anything like it, but I could very well relate to Cath's obsession with her beloved Simon Snow books. I'm a fan of Cath and her passionate love for reading and writing Simon Snow fan fic. But I was no fan of Simon Snow himself (I haven't even read the last Harry Potter book). 
Every new chapter is accompanied by a Simon Snow quote or snippet of Cath's fan fiction to support the overall feel of Rainbow Rowell's FANGIRL and acquaint the reader with his magical world.
These short snippets were fitting the stories' character and I liked to find out what Cath saw in Simon Snow's stories, what she loved about them. 
Towards the ending of FANGIRL the fan fiction portions of Cath's story grow in relation to one big event she's looking forward to. The publication of the last book in the Simon Snow series. So, long pages of FANGIRL are filled with Cath's fan fiction about Simon and his (as Cath writes it) potential love interest Baz. Even though Cath's characters seem to grow in correlation with the actual FANGIRL story, her Simon Snow fan fic filled too many pages to keep my interest.  At some point I was tempted to skip the Simon Snow parts altogether and continue with the actual love story between Cath and Levi.

Cath starting college is the perfect condition and setting for her to meet new people and maybe even fall in love. It's her chance to evolve and be independent but what if she is extremely shy and just wants to shut out the rest of the world except her sister Wren and her father?
Cath is drawn back into herself and unaware of the college life going on around her. Luckily there are her new roomate Reagan and her friend, possible boyfriend Levi who help Cath to enjoy a small portion of life outside her bubble. Cath certainly doesn't become a social butterfly overnight, her transformation is a slow one, but she learns how to work on her issues and finally accepts new people into her life.

Cath writes fan fiction, but always has a realistic and analysing gift when it comes to assess the people around her. The boys in FANGIRL don't come along born Gods, they don't have the shiniest teeth or most perfect features as Cath observes, who sees and likes them for the persons they really are.
See for yourselves how Cath and Levi first met (their first encounters are probably unprecedented in YA awkwardness) and what their relationship is all about. Theirs is a very unconventional love story. It takes Cath a lot of time to open up to Levi and they become friends first before they can even give in to any romantic notions. To tease you, you can look forward to the Outsiders scene which is one of my favourites in YA! 

FANGIRL is not only about Cath's fan fiction and her love life. Rainbow Rowell found a bunch of other family and college-related aspects to weave together to a thick story mesh and well-written YA contemporary. It's about the many possibilities the new college world has to offer. About the difficulty to ever detach yourself from the ones you always had in your life as Cath's twin sister and their father mean the world to her. Is Wren doing okay on her own and what about her farther? Can he take to be all on his own after sending his two girls to college?
And ultimately FANGIRL is about finding out who you really are as an independent person and how to make certain things exclusively your own.

4,5/5 ****/* FANGIRL – An authentic and wholehearted bibliophile college experience. Rainbow Rowell is the new YA phenomenon!

FANGIRL is a brilliant book for readers looking for a YA contemporary read with the certain touch of magic. Sure I could've done without a good portion of the Simon Snow fan fiction we were given, but never would've wanted to miss out on FANGIRL. It's a very special read, with Cath and Levi's one-of-a-kind love story and Rainbow Rowell's great understanding for her characters.

"What about him?" she'd say, finding an attractive guy to point out while they were standing in the lunch line."Do you want to kiss him?"
"I don't want to kiss a stranger," Cath would answer. "I'm not interested in lips out of context." ― p. 82

FANGIRL you might also enjoy PSYCH MAJOR SYNDROME by Alicia Thompson and LOVE STORY by Jennifer Echols, both set in college, too. FAMOUS LAST WORDS by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is also a read for teens interested in writing and journalism, but for a younger audience as it's set in high school.

* Can't get enough of Rainbow Rowell's books? Her second novel ELEANOR & PARK was released earlier in 2013.

* Click here to read an excerpt of FANGIRL.

* Want to meet Rainbow Rowell? Have a look at her event schedule here.

* For further information about Rainbow and her books visit

* Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the chance to review FANGIRL!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

Title: Along For The Ride
Auhor: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Publishing Date: February 4th 2010
Length: 424 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, friendship, family, beach, BMX
Source: Bought

Auden has always felt like the odd one out.

Since her parents' divorce she's shied away, studying lots and staying out of the party scene.

But now Auden's realized there must be something more and, just like that, she changes everything. Moving to her dad's house opens up a whole new whole of beach parties, food fights - and simply having fun.

As she gets to know herself - and a secretive boy with dark, brooding eyes - can Auden begin to let go and finally feel like she truly belongs?

Summary by Goodreads

Many other YA contemporaries present us with main characters who regret one or another thing from their pasts. Not Auden. She's always been content about her regulated and uneventful childhood. Auden has worked so hard for success and the approval of her parents that she completely missed out on making the memories other teens her age have made. In ALONG FOR THE RIDE she starts questioning her choices so far. She doesn't know it yet but her decision to spend the summer with her father, stepmum and baby sister in Colby will be her chance to make good for all that she's missed out on so far.
Auden first appeared as a slightly alien main character. Never having partied, enjoyed shopping, meeting friends. She is definitly not your regular teen, but that makes you like her even more.

Her days are mostly spent sleeping. It are the nights that count, in which she drinks coffee and wanders around town. They are restless and without any direction. Until Auden meets Eli and they begin spending their nights together on a kind of quest to make new memories. 
Their outings and adventures seemed so natural and sweet, I wished all the time that they could find a way to make their nights last forever.
I'm a night person like Auden which made her even more sympathetic and her nights with Eli a YA highlight. What surprised me was that their love story wasn't as dominant as their friendship (people who actually know each other before they fall in love) and without too many intimate scenes or details (minimal deficit).

Besides her nights with Eli, Auden's time in Colby is reserved for her new friends, summer job and her family. Auden's stepmom Heidi and her daughter Isby are two characters you immediately take into your heart, showing so much love and acceptance for Auden. Her unemotional and selfish parents on the other hand are very tough to like as they are anything but exemplary parents.
Auden's offer to help out in Heidi's clothes shop is the key to an eventful summer in Colby. It's where she meets the hip girl trio Maggie, Leah and Esther and becomes friends with them. Their cliques' passion for BMX bikes provides ALONG FOR THE RIDE with an active hobby, offering to teach Auden and the reader more about a new sport.
After two years of putting off reading ALONG FOR THE RIDE I finally picked it as a must read this summer. It was my first book by Sarah Dessen and now I know why so many readers name Sarah's books as their favourite YA contemporaries.

4,5/5 ****/* ALONG FOR THE RIDE - A smooth and fortifying read inviting readers to the beach town of Colby and on a felicitous YA summer vacation!

ALONG FOR THE RIDE reminds you of your favourite childhood memories and encourages you to always go your own way and make as many new memories as you can, for you should know the best of times are always ahead of you. I totally get the appeal Sarah Dessen books have on YA readers, because they are about so many things that are important in your teen years. My next trip to Colby is already booked! 

"I knew if I'd spent the same amount of time with Eli during the day, or even early evening, I probably would have gotten to know him, too. But not like this. The night changed things, widening out the scope. What we said to each other, the things we did, they all took on a bigger meaning in the dark. Like time was sped up and slowed down, all at once." ― p. 188/189

ALONG FOR THE RIDE you might also enjoy these three beach reads. MOONGLASS by Jessi Kirby, TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler and THE DAY BEFORE by Lisa Schroeder, a bold pick for readers who haven't yet enjoyed stories written in verse.

* Sarah Dessen's newest book THE MOON AND MORE was released in June 2013.

* Want to read an excerpt of ALONG FOR THE RIDE? Click here.

* You can also listen to Sarah Dessen reading an excerpt.

* For further information about Sarah Dessen and her books visit

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publishing Date: June 19th 2012
Length: 224 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, friendship, war, loss
Source: Bought

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

Summary by Goodreads

Travis returns from Afghanistan and everything and everyone back home seems to have changed, moved on without him. While reading SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL I couldn't help putting myself in his position and what I saw felt pretty lonely, troubled and complicated. Travis is a hurt boy and he's lost so much in his young life. His time in war has made him stronger and more vulnerable at the same time. One part of his story is dedicated to the trauma he now carries with him everywhere he goes, the war that's even haunting him in his sleep.
The case of Travis' inner conflict, better said illness, is supported by letters and flashbacks to his stunt in Afghanistan. We are seeing what the soldiers' days look like and what it feels like to be thousands of miles away from your family caught in battle and destruction. What you crave, hope, and that you can lose everything in the blink of an eye.
Trish Doller found a sensible and honestly realistic voice to give to this troubled boy whose perspective the story of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL is told from.

Harper is the girl who welcomes him back home and gives his days a new reason. They've known each other before the war. And I'm always for two characters who have a common past because it makes it easier to see them falling for each other. In Travis' case, their shared past is one of misunderstandings and mistakes. So, now falling in love will be another trial for both, Harper and Travis.
Harper is a really kind and sweet girl. She is a nice character, but I would have wanted for her to have some more kick, to let herself go.
There are moments between them that I adored. I mean the turtles Alpha, Juliet and Zulu totally stole my heart! I loved the prospect of Harper's and Travis' relationship, one that could have been explosive. In the end it only felt like scratching on the surface of all their possibilities and everything that could have happened. 

4/5 **** - SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL – A real and heart-rending story about learning to live again. 

SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL had been a book so tempting I grabbed a copy the day it was released and was finished by the next day. I felt this compulsive need to keep reading and stay by Travis' side for as long as it would take for him to feel any kind of normalcy again. Harper and Travis are a couple that adds a certain emotional depth to Trish's debut novel ensuring that many readers will fall for SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL. I only missed more details and probably one or two additional  twists and turns that would have required a few extra chapters added to their story.

It's full-on morning when Harper drops me off at home. Well beyond the sneaking-in hours, past breakfast, and eighty-seven baby sea turtles later. We stopped naming them after Zulu. 
"I hope the one we called Juliet is a girl," I say. "Or he's going to have to face the next hundred fifty years being ridiculed by all the other turtles."
She smiles. "Shut up." ― p. 89

SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL you might also enjoy IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby. It is the story of Honor who receives a letter from her brother Finn who died in Iraq and goes on a road trip to fulfill last wishes, find answers and love. I haven't read IF I LIE by Corinne Jackson or WHILE HE WAS AWAY by Karen Schreck but both stories are dealing with main characters whose boyfriends are going to war and sound like very emotional reads.

* Can't get enough of Trish's books? WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE will be released September 24th 2013.

* Click here to read an excerpt of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL.


* For further information about Trish Doller and her books visit

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Title: Moonglass
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: April 24th 2012
Length: 232 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, friendship, loss, beach
Source: Bought

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I’ve thought maybe my mother drowned in both.Anna’s life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It’s bad enough that she has to leave her friends behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love—a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide means that nothing—not the sea glass that collects along the shore, and not the truths behind Anna’s mother’s death—stays buried forever.

Summary by Goodreads


Anna's story begins on a rainy and windy day, indeed fitting her mood. She and her father just packed up everything they own and are on their way to their new home. Moving to a new town is never easy. New school, friends and crush.
And Anna's finding a friend pretty quickly after moving to Crystal Cove, or better said she's found. Anna's trying to keep her distance but no one can resist cheerful and devoted Ashley. They both join the school's cross-country team and the sportive meetings and bubbly personality of Ashley add a lot of positive energy to the story. 

Tyler is a local lifeguard who offers Anna a new chance for love and trust. Their relationship has its sweet and daring moments. It was a welcome change to see there were no major conflicts troubling Anna and Tyler's relationship because they deserved some quiet and peaceful time to find to each other. I just wish we had more time to follow the development of their love story.

MOONGLASS is not only sunny beach days. It's also a story about regret and a terrible family tragedy. Short falsh backs to the past show how much Anna's remembering of one unfortunate night many years ago. You can see that the death of Anna's mother still affects her very much. The beach will always be a reminder of her lost mother and at the same time a source for Anna to draw new energy and recover.

This all beach-themed read takes you to the beautiful place of Crystal Cove with wide long beaches and shimmering blue water. Jessi Kirby's writing magically makes it your temporary second home. How I wish I lived there. Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, surfing, a bonfire and BBQs are only a selection of the fun beach activities we are invited to partake in.

The first book I read by Jessi Kirby was IN HONOR, followed by GOLDEN and MOONGLASS. One thing they have in common are their unsatisfying endings, making us leave our characters too early and too abrupt after major-life changing events. To sum up, I can say that I did enjoy all of Jessi Kirby's novels so far and with nearly over 230 pages MOONGLASS serves as a quick beach read, one I would always recommend.

4/5 **** MOONGLASS – A contemplative and uniquely soulful beach read.

A right portion of soothing, lulling beach moments and kisses stolen in the moonlight are Jessi Kirby's formula to heal a broken heart. Like sea glass her debut has many facets and colors to shine with, so take your time to find them all!

He didn't move. I didn't either. I could feel another moment creeping up on us, and I willed him to just tilt his head in and kiss me before I had to swim in and deal with what waited for me on the beach. But he didn't. And too quickly I found myself kicking away through the black water, regretting that I didn't either. ― p. 77

MOONGLASS you might also enjoy UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa C. Walker who invites you to join Clementine's sailing trip. SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson, set at a lake house, is a pensive read about great loss and rekindling a past love. And THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han is the ultimate beach read and it's a trilogy. 

* Can't get enough of Jessi Kirby's books? Her newest book GOLDEN was released May 2013!

* Click here for an excerpt of MOONGLASS.

* For further information about Jessi Kirby and her books visit