Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

kiss kill vanish

First, here’s the official blurb:

Love. Betrayal. Murder.

Valentina is living a charmed, glittering life in Miami—falling in love for the first time, showered with gifts and affection by her father, surrounded by friends—when one shocking moment shatters everything she thought she knew about herself, her boyfriend, and her world. With no one left to trust, Valentina sheds her identity and flees to Montreal, where she finds work posing for a series of portraits by a pompous young artist. Valentina has always been at home in the art world, but she’s never felt quite so alone.

Valentina’s carefully constructed new life comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, putting her safety in question and her heart on the line. With betrayal at every turn, Valentina must untangle the deceptions of those she once loved and race to find her own truth—before it’s too late.

This book shocked and amazed me in so many ways, the most important of which is that IT ACTUALLY SURPRISED ME. I kept thinking I knew how it would end, or guessing Martinez would put one plot twist too many in there, but nope. She didn’t. It ends perfectly, with a protagonist who is strong and kicks butt, and left me a highly satisfied reader.

Kudos to Martinez on a true, gritty but not gross, hot but not crude or pornish, suspense thriller that literally had me guessing all the way through. This is one YA thriller that I would actually love to see in the hands of my students!

Find Kiss Kill Vanish here on Amazon or at your favorite book store!

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

the distance between us

 

I’ve been wanting to read this for forever because of its adorable cover and because I’ve heard so many good things about Kasie West, but for some reason I just got around to it recently. It was so much more than I could have hoped for! Kasie West has sealed herself solidly onto my must-read list, which means I have more books to read!

In The Distance Between Us, Caymen is a girl taught to be weary of the wealthy – she helps her mom run the doll shop that they own and live above, and money is always tight. When Xander comes in to pick up a doll for his grandma, it doesn’t take Caymen long to recognize him as one of the wealthy elite and write him off. Xander doesn’t give up. He’s instantly taken with Caymen and just starts showing up all the time. Just as Caymen starts to recognize her own feelings for Xander, things get super complicated.

This story is a sweet realistic fairytale of a romance mixed with some intriguing family drama that ultimately ends beautifully. I can’t wait to read everything else Kasie has already published, and I’m looking forward to her future works as well.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

golden

 

I’m a sucker for a good YA novel with a pretty cover, but a book with a pretty cover (even gold foil on the paperback! too gorgeous) AND Robert Frost poetry woven in? I’m so there. Golden by Jessi Kirby is a really beautifully written story full of romance, mystery, and adventure. The story is compelling and the characters are realistically flawed with plenty of redeeming value. Parker, the main character, is a protagonist that I rooted for all the way through, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way her story turned out. You’ll love this one!  Click here to find Golden on Amazon!

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

biggest flirts

 

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Jennifer Echols. She has a way of creating characters you’d want to hang out with in real life – they’re not perfect by any means – they’re full of flaws and rocky lives, which is probably part of their appeal. They’re realistic without being negative jerks. Anyway, Jennifer also has a way of writing a romance that makes it seem more real-life possible than most romance stories.

Biggest Flirts kicks off a new series for Echols, the Superlatives, which will go through other superlatives like perfect couple and more. I can’t say that Biggest Flirts was my favorite of Echols’ books (I think, for me, that will forever be Dirty Little Secret), but I did enjoy it thoroughly and look forward to reading the rest of the series!

Quick content reminder – Echols’ writing is definitely for the upper high school and beyond audience. I think she’s a great storyteller and I always find value in lessons taken from the lives of her characters, but I wouldn’t really want to see them in the hands of my middle school students.

Biggest Flirts came out last month, and the rest of the books in the series look like they’ll follow pretty quickly (January 2015 and August 2015 so far), so we won’t have to wait too long in-between books! Yay for that. :)

Another side note – if you’ve ever had to actually take superlatives pictures for the yearbook (I did my time as yearbook advisor for four years), you can truly appreciate these clovers. I absolutely love them!

Click here to find Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives) on Amazon

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

 

we were liars

 

Mark my words… this will be the next YA title to take the world by storm, like The Fault In Our Stars did last year. I so hope they make a movie out of this.

All I can really say about this without giving anything away is that it was really, really beautifully written and masterfully crafted. I started this thinking I was getting into a typical summery beach YA title, but what I found was something that consumed my entire Sunday because I just could not put it down. This is the first E. Lockhart title I’ve read, and it has single-handedly turned me into a fan.

The characters are intriguing, and the style with which Lockhart builds this story is effortlessly suspenseful and mysterious.

I can’t even tell you what it reminds me of without getting into spoilers, so I won’t. But you should definitely read it when it comes out next week! Preorder, reserve, send to kindle… whatever. Get it.

With a twist I didn’t see coming, Liars shocked me in the most delightful way… but the best part about that was I could go back and see the clues Lockhart left along the way, and though I never would have seen the end coming, it made perfect sense once I got there.

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

nantucket red

As we already know, I’m a sucker for a good YA story with a beautiful, beachy, romantic cover. So, when I saw this cover in NetGalley’s YA section, I just knew I had to get it.

What I didn’t know when I started reading is that it’s actually the second book in Howland’s Nantucket series, the first of which is Nantucket Blue (the cover of which is equally as beachy and romantic and gorgeous, as seen below). Sometimes you just can’t pick up a sequel and have any idea what’s going on, but that wasn’t the case here. Howland does a great job of providing enough back story that someone like me can know what’s happening without having read the first book, but I don’t think there was so much backstory that it would have bored me if I’d read the first book.

In Nantucket Red, the protagonist is Cricket Thompson, a senior in high school who works her butt off to get what she’s always dreamed of – a spot on the lacrosse team at Brown University. She succeeds, and in the summer between her high school graduation and freshman year of college, she spends a few months on Nantucket, earning money for her freshman year at Brown. Of course beach-filled fun and romance ensue as Cricket tries to salvage her best-friendship, considers the new available (or is he?) guy she works with, and tries to get over her first love (who just happens to be her best friend’s brother, which is why she’s trying to salvage that best-friendship). Along the way, though, Cricket does something far more important – she begins to think about what she really wants to do with her life, and whether or not jumping into her freshman year at Brown is really the right answer.

Overall, I liked Cricket a lot. She was realistically flawed as a human being and she struggled with decisions in a way typical of older teens, but she was able to resolve her problems and set herself off in a positive direction for beginning adulthood. If more books follow in this Nantucket series, I’ll definitely be checking them out.

Nantucket Red will be out next week on May 13th, which gives you time to read Nantucket Blue before then! Check them out here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller.

nantucket blue

 

nantucket blue

In Bloom by Katie Delahanty

in bloom

It seems like, in general, the New Adult genre has slipped into a pattern of beginning with a character deeply affected by some horrible tragedy who finds another character deeply affected by some horrible tragedy and they cling tightly to each other and can’t survive life without the hope of their love. Aside from a few authors keeping it fun, like Cassie Mae for example, New Adult authors are giving off this impression that adulthood has to begin with depression or something. It’s annoying.

In Bloom is a breath of fresh air for the New Adult genre. Delahanty has written characters that are realistically flawed, but who do not let the circumstances of life become these huge depressing things that dictate whether or not they survive. If you’re looking for depressing New Adult, this is not it. In Bloom felt to me like a slightly older version of Jen E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like: charming, romantic, fun, and smartly-written. Delahanty has been shaping these characters for years through her blog, and you can totally tell. They feel like real people.

I loved Olivia as a protagonist. She handles the pressures of moving to LA to pursue her dreams wonderfully, making great friends and ignoring her crazy mom along the way. She gets a fun job and breaks into the Hollywood scene, meeting the front man of her favorite band, Berkeley. She is accident prone and witty and smart, and several times throughout her story I laughed out loud at her antics.

Then there’s Berkeley. He’s sweet and romantic and down-to-earth despite the fact that he’s a world famous rock star, and his pursuit of Olivia is the cutest thing. I developed a total crush on him as I read, and I can only hope he shows up again and again and again in future Delahanty books.

Until there are more books in this series, though, there’s always twitter… The characters in the book tweet at each other at the start of each chapter, but it never occurred to me that there would be actual twitter accounts I could follow. But then I found them, and it was magical. I mean, you usually finish a book and have to say goodbye to the characters, right? Not this time, though… find them on twitter, follow them, and let them interact with you. I hope it makes your day and much as it made mine.

In Bloom twitter

One more thing I loved about this – Delahanty didn’t feel the need to make it sound like a “grown up book” by having her characters cuss all the time. I appreciated that. Like I said, In Bloom is a breath of fresh air. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of the graphic nature of the love scenes. It surprised me because the language was so clean, and I was thinking I could really recommend this to teenagers and students getting out there and making life decisions, but I can’t do that now. Plus, I think the love scenes would have flowed better with the overall tone of the rest of the book if they’d been more modestly written.

In Bloom releases today! Click here to find it on Amazon.