Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series is one of my favorites. It’s full of strong, intelligent, admirable female protagonists and exciting, rewarding, and well-paced plots. There’s not a single one that I haven’t liked. I love that all of the stories are set in the same town, too, so that we see some of the characters from previous books, allowing us to check in on old friends. There are currently six published, with the 7th coming out this summer (side note: while I think it would work best if read in order, each book is its own stand alone story, so you can read them out of order).
While I have liked them all, I can say that Jesse’s Girl, the 6th book in the series, is my absolute favorite of them all (probably because my love of stories involving normal people/famous people romance is real). It’s a slight departure in that the main character isn’t sporty, but it’s classic Hundred Oaks in every other way. In Jesse’s Girl, we get the story of Maya and Jesse. Maya’s a 17 year-old in high school, and when she says she wants to be a rock star when she grows up she’s assigned to Jesse, Nashville’s current teen music heartthrob, for a career shadow day.
Maya and Jesse both agree to this shadow day, but neither one of them are real excited about it. As they spend time together, though, they see the potential for a friendship and more. Jesse helps Maya step out of a bad music situation she’s been in and embrace a more positive future in music, and she soars. This is a surprisingly realistic and very well written story despite the improbability of this situation actually happening.
Because of some content, I’d recommend Jesse’s Girl (and the rest of the Hundred Oaks books) for 9th grade and up. Click here to find it on Amazon, or look or it at your favorite bookseller!
I laughed, I cried, I swooned (a lot), and I totally ignored my students the morning after I started reading Emmy & Oliver because I couldn’t wait to finish reading.
The storyline was intriguing, but I think what I loved most about Emmy & Oliver was the incredible quality of the characters. Emmy and Oliver were great, in fact I’d go so far as to say that I think Emmy’s one of the best protagonists I’ve ever read, and their cast of supporting characters was awesome.
Emmy & Oliver would make a great choice for any summer reading situation, whether it be a day at the beach or a day spent curled up in bed. Go check it out Emmy & Oliver. And, on a side note, Robin Fenway’s other titles are different in style and genre but are also fun reads, if you find that you like this title and want more from the same author!
I’m a serious fan of TV with smart writing, and the best-written show I’ve seen in a very long time is Jane the Virgin. Now, had I judged the series by its title, I never would have watch it. But oh my goodness I’m so glad I saw the original trailer that got me hooked on it. Every episode makes me laugh out loud, but the protagonist (Jane, who is in fact a virgin even though she’s pregnant) is a seriously strong young woman with an admirable set of morals and dreams she’s not afraid to go after. Find some episodes on The CW’s website, or watch the series from the beginning on Monday nights on The CW, or just give in and stream the entire first season on Amazon for less than twenty bucks. It’s really good stuff.
Kissing Ted Callahan is fun, quirky, sweet, and funny all at the same time. With a glowing compliment from on of my favorite YA authors, Stephanie Perkins, on the cover and a comparison to Easy A, I knew I had to read it. I’m glad I did, too!
In it, two L.A. teens, Riley and Reid, challenge each other to act on their crushes after finding their other two bandmates in a compromising position. They chronicle their adventures in a notebook that they trade back and forth, and what results is a story full of music and fun and the hope of romance, and it gets bonus points for making me laugh. I like Riley’s parts better, but it was all good stuff.
This book is out now, so check it out! You can find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller.
I loved the characters, especially Noah and Lex, but also their family members and the whole SmartMart staff. Barnes definitely has a talent for characterization! There were some things that just felt a little off to me, like the occasional bout of foul language, the pageants, and the whole tornado thing. Ultimately, though, this is a very realistic portrayal of teenagers and I love the positive message here that sometimes great things happen even as a result of our mistakes. Check it out Paper or Plastic.
Ok, I’m a real fan of British things. Like, not in a creepy way… I just think British comedies and romances and TV (hello, IT Crowd and Sherlock) are fantastic. Geek Girl, the first in a series of books from acclaimed British author Holly Smale, is equally wonderful. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I enjoyed it as much as the first book in Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson series (the funniest books I’ve ever read).
Anyway, in Geek Girl we get to know Harriet Manners, a self-proclaimed geek and anti-fashionista, who sort of accidentally gets “discovered” as a model. And not just a little local ad company model, but an international supermodel… which makes you wonder how on earth she thought she could keep it a secret! Serious laugh out loud opportunities and swoony moments with a male model are all through this, along with a good, valuable message in the end.
Because this is the first in a series, I asked Holly Smale if the other books would be coming out quickly here (several are already out in the UK), and she said they’ll be following Geek Girl in the upcoming months. I know that I, for one, can’t wait!
Check out Geek Girl here on Amazon or find it at your favorite book store. It will be out on January 27th, so preorder!
I’ve been a fan of Cassie’s since her very first release, but I think How to Hook a Bookworm has pretty solidly taken its place as my new favorite Cassie Mae book. The book is funny (I LOL’ed several times while reading it this morning – my kids thought I was crazy), it’s swoony (OMG with Jay and Adam), and it’s relevant (Brea is an impossible not to love, realistic, flawed teenager with problems that face many students today).
The whole “How To” series has been really great, and Bookworm is the perfect ending. While you could pick this up and read it as a standalone, you won’t get everything out of it that there is to get, so do yourself a favor and begin with How to Date a Nerd first. Or, be stubborn and start out with How to Hook a Bookworm. It’ll leave you wanting more and more of Cassie’s books!
I loved For Real, a new title from Alison Cherry in which we get to follow Claire and her older sister, Miranda, on a seriously fun summer adventure. When Miranda’s boyfriend is found out as a cheater right before they’re supposed to move in together, she moves home and struggles to move on… until Claire comes up with an idea for the perfect revenge. Miranda’s ex is going on an around-the-world race reality show, and without him knowing it, the two girls audition to be one of the last minute replacement teams. They go on the show with the intent to bring Miranda’s ex down, but the fun and bonding they get from the experience is worth far more than the revenge. I’m a fan of the positive sister relationship shown in this, and the strength of the two girls on their adventures.
I really, really have come to love Kasie West’s contemporary romance titles. Earlier this year, I read The Distance Between Us and adored it. I can’t even count how many of my students have purchased it based on my recommendation, and I’m happy to see it being read in my classroom. This past weekend, I got my hands on her most recent title, On the Fence, and I was not disappointed.
In this one, Charlotte (who goes by Charlie) is a tomboy who has grown up in a family of all boys – her dad, her three brothers, and even the boy next door who’s been around for as long as she can remember. She plays sports, runs a lot, and acts like one of the guys. When she’s forced to get a job to pay for her speeding tickets, the job she gets is in a girly, frilly boutique where she has to trade in her t-shirts and sneakers for skinny jeans and silk blouses. As she struggles to reconcile her tomboy self with her girly self (which is not all as bad as she thought it would be), she comes to realize that her feelings for the boy next door, Braden, are anything but sisterly.
I so appreciate that West writes a fun, contemporary, relevant story while keeping language, sexual content, and drugs at bay. You don’t HAVE to include all of that to relate to teenagers, but they’re so prevalent in so much of YA that it’s like a breath of fresh air to not have to wade through the crud to find redeeming quality underneath. Kasie’s books are great, and I could not possibly recommend them more!
to SmartMart, where crime pays minimum wage…
Busted. Alexis Dubois just got caught shoplifting a cheap
tube of lipstick at the local SmartMart. She doesn’t know what’s
worse—disappointing her overbearing beauty-pageant-obsessed mother for the zillionth
time…or her punishment. Because Lex is forced to spend her summer working at
the store, where the only things stranger than the staff are the customers.
Now Lex is stuck in the bizarro world of big-box retail. Coupon cutters, jerk
customers, and learning exactly what a “Code B” really is (ew). And for
added awkwardness, her new supervisor is the totally cute—and adorably
geeky—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her pitching
position on the softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes
for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst job in the world be the
best thing that ever happened to her?
Originally from East Texas (the accent comes out
more often than not), I now live in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, FL with
my very understanding husband and three kids. I’m an extrovert with awkward
blogging tendencies. My debut novel, OLIVIA TWISTED, came out November 5,
2013 from Entangled Teen!