Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

I really liked this book!  I loved Auden.  She was occasionally frustrating, especially at the beginning, but I really liked watching her come out of her shell and grow.  The rest of the characters were great too.  I loved Eli and how he opened up to Auden.  I liked how at one point Auden said that if they had gotten to know each other during the day, they wouldn’t know each other as well.  I liked that they stayed up all night and found fun things to do.  Maggie, Esther, and Leah were really fun teen girls and really believable.  I liked that they helped Auden grow and experience normal teen girls.  And I loved Heidi and Thisbe!

I did not like either of Auden’s parents.  They were both so pretentious and selfish.  They got a little better towards the end of the book, but it didn’t surprise me at all that Hollis and Auden were pretty screwed up after being raised by those two.

This book made me laugh and cry and wish it was summer.

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Bk 1) by Melissa de la Cruz

Schuyler Van Alen is confused about what is happening to her. Her veins are starting to turn blue, and she’s starting to crave raw meat. Soon, her world is thrust into an intricate maze of secret societies and bitter intrigue. Schuyler has never been a part of the trendy crowd at her prestigious New York private school. Now, all of a sudden, Jack Force, the most popular guy in school, is showing an interest in her. And when one of the popular girls is found dead, Schuyler and Jack are determined to get to the bottom of it.

Schuyler wants to find out the secrets of the mysterious Blue Bloods. But is she putting herself in danger? Melissa de la Cruz’s vampire mythology, set against the glitzy backdrop of New York City, is a juicy and intoxicating read.

I honestly wasn’t expecting to like this book.  I’ve had it on my shelf for several months and always picked something else when I needed something to read.  I finally decided I needed to read it or get rid of it.  I’m glad I read it.  There’s a lot of “vampires meet Gossip Girl” in the book.  The constant brand names and reminders of how rich and elite the characters are got old, but the story was interesting.  I liked Schuyler, Oliver, and Bliss.  I was intrigued by Jack and want to know more about what is going on with Schuyler’s mom.  I am curious to see what happens in the next book.

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

I’m marooned.

Abandoned.

Left to rot in boarding school . . .

Viola doesn’t want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.

Ick.

There’s no way Viola’s going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.

Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.

But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.

This book was just okay to me.  There were times when I really liked it, but it wasn’t something I was super excited to read.  I would read for 20-30 pages and then get distracted and put it down.  It didn’t grip me while I was reading.  I was not a big fan of Viola.  She was pretty selfish and judgmental.  She does grow through the novel, but each time I thought she was starting to get over herself, she would revert back to her old self.  It was frustrating.  There was a time towards the end when she was being a total brat, but I was cheering for her.

I liked her grandmother a lot.  Her roommates were great, but I felt like they were all kind of flat characters and I didn’t get to know them that well.

Miss Match by Wendy Toliver

Miss Match (Simon Romantic Comedies) by Wendy Toliver

Sasha Finnegan has always had a knack for setting people up, and at sixteen, she’s turned her talent into an online business, molding high school crushes into true love. But Sasha finds her toughest match yet when hottie Derek Urban asks her to set him up with Sasha’s gorgeous sister, Maddie. It’s not that Derek isn’t a good catch. In fact, after spending so much time with him, Sasha can’t help but think he’s perfect — for her, that is.

Can Sasha push her feelings aside for the sake of her business? Or has this miss finally found her match?

This book is so cute!  I really liked Sasha.  She was a great character – she was so real!  I really enjoyed reading about her.  Her match making business was creative and a lot of fun to read about.  The characters around her were fun too – Derek, Maddie, Yasmin.  The family dynamic was interesting and made Sasha seem even more real.  This was a fantastic, fun read.

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling

CLAIRE VOYANTE HAS been having strange visions ever since she can remember. But the similarity between her name and her talents is purely coincidental. The name is French, and unlike the psychics on TV, she can’t solve crimes or talk to the dead. Whenever Claire follows her hunches, she comes up empty—or ends up in pretty awkward situations.
But that all changes on Claire’s 15th birthday, when her grandmother, Kiki—former socialite, fashion icon, and permanent fixture at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel—gives her something a little more extraordinary than one of her old cocktail dresses: a strange black-and-white onyx cameo on a gold chain. It’s not long before Claire’s world becomes a whole lot clearer. And a whole lot more dangerous.

This book was insanely adorable!  It was a lot of fun to read.  The characters are eccentric, but in a delightful way.  They were all characters I wanted to know more about.  I really liked Claire.  Her sense of humor was fantastic!  I liked a lot of supporting characters too – Becca, Louis, Kiki, Henry… all of them…  Claire’s dreams were really fun to read and it was a cool to see how they tied into the story.

It took me a little while to get into the book and for the mystery to come about, but I’m glad I stuck with it in the end.  The next book, Dream Life, comes out tomorrow (Jan 12).  I will definitely be picking it up soon!  Claire will be dropping by my blog next week, so keep an eye out for that!

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

A confection of a novel, combining big city sophistication with small town charm.

When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny’s life isn’t what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn’t talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there’s Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks almost daily. There are also bright spots in Hog’s Hollow—like Tally, an expert in Rock Paper Scissors, and Marcus, the boy who is always running on the beach. But just when it looks as though Penny is settling in, her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside down again. A sweet novel about love, creativity, and accepting life’s unexpected turns.

This book was really cute!  I liked Penny a lot, and Tally and Blake were a lot of fun, too.  And Gram!  She was fantastic.  I really liked the description of the town and the various people in the town.  Basically, this book is about Penny growing up and figuring out her relationship to her family and becoming part of Hog’s Hollow.  But she’s not the only one that grows and changes, which keeps the book interesting.

I didn’t totally get why she and Marcus liked each other at first.  But I really liked them as they got to know each other better.  Marcus and his dad were really great characters that made me tear up a couple times.

This book should come with a warning, though – looking too close at the cover will make you crave cupcakes!

Hunger by Michael Grant

Hunger (Gone, Bk 2) by Michael Grant

It’s been three months since everyone under the age of fourteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ. Things have only gotten worse. Food is running out, and each day more kids are developing supernatural abilities. Soon tension rises between those with powers and those without, and when an unspeakable tragedy occurs, chaos erupts. It’s the normals against the mutants, and the battle promises to turn bloody.

But something more dangerous lurks. A sinister creature known as the Darkness has begun to call to the survivors in the FAYZ. It needs their powers to sustain its own. When the Darkness calls, someone will answer — with deadly results.

I finished this book last night and really all I can say is… Dude.  Whoa.

Now that I have my Saved by the Bell reaction out of the way, I’ll try to be a little more coherent.  This series is amazing and this book is just as good as, if not better than, the first one.  There are paranormal elements, but at the heart, it’s about a group of kids struggling to live.  There are a lot of characters in the book and sometimes when it would switch to someone’s perspective, it would take me a minute to remember who they were and what had last happened to them, but all of the characters feel like they are real kids and teenagers facing an impossible situation.  Evil plans don’t always work out exactly as planned.  Neither do good plans.  Even the “bad guys” felt pretty human in this book.  I really liked Sam in Gone, but in Hunger, I was blown away by him.  Pretty amazing character in my opinion.

The powers people exhibit and mystery of The Darkness continue to intrigue in this book.  How people react to both of those things was really interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat.

And one last thing – I loved the title of this book and how it was the theme for so many of the stories going on.  The kids’ physical hunger, The Darkness’ hunger, the hunger for power exhibited by several different people… so many different ways it could be applied.

This book is long and probably not for everyone, but I think fans of dystopian lit will enjoy it.

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips…conks her head…and wakes up in the year 1815!

There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to them—particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad arrogant.

But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up?

More Cabot than Ibbotson, Prada and Prejudice is a high-concept romantic comedy about finding friendship and love in the past in order to have happiness in the present.

This book had a lot of potential, but in the end, it felt very flat to me.  The fact that she thought buying $400 shoes would a) help her make friends and b) be a justifiable “emergency” was kind of nuts.  Once she got to Regency England, she was a brat and really slow on the uptake.  She was rude to her hosts multiple times and always seemed to believe that the current ideals were better than the way things were back then.  It just felt very obnoxious.  Alex didn’t quite work for me, either.  I never saw any reason why he would like Callie.  And the last thing that bothered me is that the book ended very abruptly.  I felt like a little more of Callie’s story could have been told to sum up the book.

Gone by Michael Grant

Gone (Gone, Bk 1) by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

I liked this book.  It was very “Lord of the Flies meets Heroes.” I really like the main character Sam.  He’s the one the town kids look to when the crisis begins and he tries to rise to the challenge, but he’s also a very believable teenage boy.  I thought many of the characters felt very real – there were few characters that were one dimensional.  Occasionally, especially at the beginning, it was hard to keep all the characters and story lines straight, but it got easier as the book went on and the separate story lines began to blend together.

The Coates kids (and their impact on the town kids) were really interesting.  I was amazed at how easily Caine took over the town, but I kind of understand how he did it.  I thought the town’s reaction (both at the beginning and later in the book) to the Coates kids was pretty intriguing.

There were a lot of questions laid out in this book.  Some were answered, but many were not as this is the beginning of a series.  One complaint I do have is that the book was loooooong.  That’s not generally a problem for me, but there were a couple times as I read that I really wished the action would hurry up.  I started the second book in the series, but it is very overwhelming and I;m struggling to get back into the world.  I just want answers! :)