Samantha McAllister is part of the "cool girl" group at school, otherwise known as the Crazy Eights. Her friends are well-off, popular, and essentiallSamantha McAllister is part of the "cool girl" group at school, otherwise known as the Crazy Eights. Her friends are well-off, popular, and essentially are mean girls. Samantha, or Sam, has always been a part of their group since they were very young, but they don't know who she really is. Sam suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and sometimes has a hard time managing her obsessive thoughts, especially when trying to balance it with the drama that high school always brings. Her psychiatrist encourages her to break away from the Crazy Eights, but where would she go? Who would she be friends with? The idea of starting over is terrifying to her. Things start to change when Sam meets Caroline and opens up to her about her problems. In turn, Caroline shows something to Sam that will change her life. She takes her to a hidden room within the school called Poet's Corner where a bunch of students get together and share their poetry, thoughts, feelings, etc. This aspect of the novel reminded me of Dead Poet's Society as Poet's Corner is also s a group of misfits oftentimes misunderstood. But what if they don't accept her? Tamara Ireland Stone's Every Last Word is an interesting glimpse into what it is like to have OCD and how a person would struggle to manage it at the high school level. Plus, it's also about acceptance and having the courage to put yourself out there and truly be who you are.
TifAni, or Ani as she goes by now, seems to have it all in her glamorous New York life. She has a wealthy fiancé an upcoming Nantucket wedding, a fabuTifAni, or Ani as she goes by now, seems to have it all in her glamorous New York life. She has a wealthy fiancé an upcoming Nantucket wedding, a fabulous job at a famous New York magazine, and money to spend on all of the latest fashions. But she has a secret past. She grew up outside Philadelphia and attended school at the prestigious Bradley School deep in the heart of the Main Line. Even though Ani's family lives in the outskirts of the Main Line, Ani's mother was hoping she would brush elbows with children from old money. Well, her plan worked, but a major tragedy occurred at The Bradley School, one that directly involved Ani. All of her secrets will come to the surface again when a documentary is being made to commemorate the horrible events that occurred at The Bradley School. She is hoping the documentary will help her find some closure; however, as her wedding nears, she is finding herself and her well-kept facade unraveling a bit. Jessica Knoll's debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, is captivating. For me, it was chick-lit meets something darker, which made for an addicting beach read
Imagine a really competitive ballet school in Manhattan filled with some of the country's best dancers. Sounds like a cut-throat place where every danImagine a really competitive ballet school in Manhattan filled with some of the country's best dancers. Sounds like a cut-throat place where every dancer is vieing for a place in the New York American Ballet Company, right? It is just how I imagined it and even more so. Three very different girls all go to school there and have secrets that they are hiding. First there is Gigi, a recent transfer from California. She is the school's only African American student and her success angers many disgruntled ballerinas, especially when she is casted the coveted roll of Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. Bette, a former favorite, usually gets her way and doesn't take Gigi's success well. She is coniving, scheming and backstabbing. Then there's E-Jun, otherwise known as June, and her mother, a former ballerina, has been threatening to take her out of ballet school and send her to a regular public school where she can get a better, more well-rounded education unless she starts getting lead roles. This sends E-Jun over the edge and she puts even more pressure on herself. All three girls, although very different, share the desire of success which always comes at a high cost. Sonia Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton's debut, Tiny Pretty Things, despite its length, was a real page turner that fans of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and Black Swan will enjoy.
It's 1935 in the Florida Keys, a community impacted by the Depression and the remains of war. Many veterans have returned to Florida or are newly arriIt's 1935 in the Florida Keys, a community impacted by the Depression and the remains of war. Many veterans have returned to Florida or are newly arrived to the Keys due to a government job to build a bridge. There's Missy, an African American nanny to the wealthy Kincaid family, who although wasn't formally educated, she read encyclopedias for fun and now possess a wealth of knowledge. She is a nanny for Nelson and Hilda Kincaid, a prominent, but very unhappy couple. Hilda struggles with her weight and has haunting memories of her former life (Miss Palmetto) before she had her son and married Nelson, who takes every opportunity to cheat on her. Then there's Henry, an African American veteran, who has returned home to the Keys after the war as he is going to work on the bridge. There's also Dwayne, the town sheriff, who has to deal with racial tension amongst the locals as well as the veterans who often drink too much and get out of line. Each person in this novel has to deal with some major conflicts and all of this get magnified once a hurricane is heading right towards Heron Key's shores. Vanessa Lafaye's debut, Under a Dark Summer Sky, highlights racial tension in the south as well as what life was like for people living in the Keys during the 1930s, especially when disaster strikes.
Iris has found herself at an important crossroad. She has been married for many years to her husband, Paul, and has three lovely kids with him. ThingsIris has found herself at an important crossroad. She has been married for many years to her husband, Paul, and has three lovely kids with him. Things with Paul haven't been great for years, but she didn't see it coming when Paul announces he wants a divorce. Iris finds herself going through the motions of her life and living it in quite desperation. On a whim, she decides that a summer at her parents' farm on a beautiful lake is exactly what she needs as well as the children. Plus, she has to be up there in a few weeks to help plan her sister's wedding, even though they haven't talked in a few years. She is going to spend a few weeks without her children as they are at camp and then they will meet up with her at her childhood home. Things aren't that simple for Iris though. Once she gets to the farm, she realizes that she had no idea what kind of operation her parents as well as her sister, Leah, had going on and it has become a rather successful business. She also can tell something is going on with Leah, but no one in her family will be straight with her. To Iris, it appears that Leah has jumped into this marriage with a man that she just met and to top it off, Leah acts strangely from time to time. It doesn't help that Iris's teenage crush, Cooper Woods, is working on restoring her parents' barn, so she is constantly running into him and an unlikely friendship forms. The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon is an entertaining debut that examines the complexities within families, but also the ups and downs of moving on with your life. The idyllic setting makes for a great summertime read.
Rebecca "Bex" Porter is an average American living in Iowa, until her father invents a couch that has a refrigerator underneath it and then make someRebecca "Bex" Porter is an average American living in Iowa, until her father invents a couch that has a refrigerator underneath it and then make some serious money. Bex, an aspiring artist, decides that she wants to attend Oxford despite the fact that she has never been away from her family or her twin sister, Lacey, before. Once she gets there in the middle of an epic rainstorm, a man helps her with her luggage. Little does she know that this man is none other than Prince Nicholas, the future king. As Bex finds her way in Oxford and a foreign country, she makes many friends and frenemies; in fact, she starts an unlikely friendship with the prince who appreciates her more than the other self-serving people in his circle. When readers encounter the prologue, they know that these two end up together, but the fun is in HOW did they end up together as there are many ups and downs along the way. Plus, she is an American! Obviously, Nick and Bex's courtship is inspired by Prince William and Kate Middleton, so if you are like me and a fan of all things royal, you must check out The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan this summer. It was better than any tabloid magazine; it was filled with juicy gossip, steamy scenes, fashion, lavish vacations, and hilarious laugh-out-loud moments. This is a book that I would definitely put in my beach bag this summer.
Emily Donovan seems to have it all. She's got an amazing job in Manhattan, she has a boyfriend, and two very good girlfriends. This all changes thoughEmily Donovan seems to have it all. She's got an amazing job in Manhattan, she has a boyfriend, and two very good girlfriends. This all changes though when she finds out her estranged half sister, who happens to be a movie star, died in a tragic accident. She has left her six-year old daughter, Juliet, to her, which absolutely doesn't make sense since they haven't spoken in years. But there's nothing Emily can do about it now. The paparazzi are ruthless and Emily realizes she needs to take Juliet somewhere off the beaten path and with the help of her best friend, Brittany, she stays at her inherited house on Puffin Island, where they used to summer as college friends. This sounds like a perfect solution, except for the fact that Emily has a serious fear of the water. To make matters worse, everyone on Puffin Island is curious as to why she is staying at Castaway Cottage and who exactly they are. Brittany sends over her friend, Ryan, to check on them, but it's unsettling to Emily as he is asking too many questions; plus, there's the fact that she is attracted to him. One thing is for sure, Emily and Juliet's stay on Puffin Island will change them both for the better. First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan is a happy romance with a gorgeous beachside setting; this book is essential spring break reading.
Emmy Nelson, an eighteen year old girl from Minnesota, has her life planned out by her parents and she has no say in her own life. It's 1958, and herEmmy Nelson, an eighteen year old girl from Minnesota, has her life planned out by her parents and she has no say in her own life. It's 1958, and her parents rule her world; in fact, they have plans to marry her off to Ambrose Brann, a family friend, whom she has known her whole life. This would be all well and good, except Emmy's family has recently moved to a town and she realizes there is so much more to life than being a farmer's wife. One teacher in particular has inspired her to reach higher and she realizes that not everyone lives the way she does with smothering parents and oppressive rules. As Emmy's horizons expand, she is able to go on her first date, go to a party and even get her first job at the switchboard for her local newspaper. Also, as Emmy's learns more about herself and life, she then remembers at the end of this she is to marry Ambrose. Ambrose was an ok guy when they were kids, but now he is a much older man that has strange notions. Not only is he extremely conservative, he is sexist, racist, and violent at times. Emmy wants more for her life, more than Ambrose and his farm, but what can she do? How will she get out of this cage her parents created? A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe is an entertaining glimpse into rural conservative life in the late 1950s as well as a captivating coming of age tale. I was on the edge of my seat with worry for Emmy and was desperate for her to spread her wings and fly far away from it all.
Kate McDaid lives a seemingly normal life in Dublin. She works at an advertisement agency and like any normal twenty-six year old, she spends a lot ofKate McDaid lives a seemingly normal life in Dublin. She works at an advertisement agency and like any normal twenty-six year old, she spends a lot of time with her girlfriends as they all try to tread the waters of dating in the big city. One day she receives a letter from a lawyer saying that she has inherited something from one of her ancestors. Surpsingly enough, her parents have no clue who this ancestor is and to make matters even weirder, the ancestor shares her name and lived in the 1800s. But this isn't any normal ancestor. Kate McDaid from the 1800s was known for her "second sight" and leaves Kate a series of poems that deal with the faeries. If Kate publishes a poem a week, she will then earn whatever it is that she has inherited. Kate thinks this is some bizarre joke, but as more people find out about Kate's inheritance and the faeries' poems, she becomes a bit of a celebrity in the media. Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill is a whimsical debut that's a fun read for St. Patrick's Day or fans of Irish folklore.
Sophie has always made all the right decisions in life. She supports her husband and his successful career; plus, she takes care of their two childrenSophie has always made all the right decisions in life. She supports her husband and his successful career; plus, she takes care of their two children. Their family has always been blissfully happy together or have they? Sophie finds out her successful architect husband, Zack, has been cheating on her and now wants a divorce. He's in love with his younger colleague and instead of being devastated by this huge blow, Sophie wants to know how it will impact the children. Maybe things weren't so great between them after all? One things she knows is that she needs time to sort this out and thanks to a friend, she is renting a house on Nantucket for two months this summer and bringing along her kids. The beach fixes everything, right? Once she gets there, someone else is renting the large house as well. A man named Trevor and his young son, Leo. There's been a mixup with the rental agreement and since both families would be crushed to leave, Sophie and Trevor maturely decide to share the house since it's a McMansion anyway. Plus, how could they decide who stays and who goes if neither party has a rental contract? Trevor is also trying to escape and give an idyllic summer to his fragile son, Leo. You see, his wife has died (drug overdose) and this has left Leo deeply saddened. Trevor is hoping this vacation will help Leo heal, but little did he know it would help him as well. Two broken families find solace at the beach this summer and possibly even love in Nancy Thayer's The Guest Cottage.
Cat is in her late twenties living the life in London during the late 90s. She has a good job, friends, and many parties to attend. She stays out tooCat is in her late twenties living the life in London during the late 90s. She has a good job, friends, and many parties to attend. She stays out too late, drinks too much, and often finds herself in compromising situations, but this is the time in her life when she is supposed to do this, right? Before she settles down? Cat refuses to think she has a problem until one time she blacks out and finds herself in a strange man's flat. The man, Jason, is a successful and very good looking TV director who is showing an interest in her both romantically and personally, as he is a recovering alcoholic himself. He convinces Cat to attend some AA meetings and get on the right path. Cat seems to be on the right path, until she gets some life-altering news from her mother. Her mother tells her that her father is not the man who raised her. Instead, it's a man her mother met in Nantucket when visiting her aunt. For Cat, this explains everything about her childhood and after talking with her new found father, she is excited to visit him in Nantucket and meet her two half sisters, Ellie and Julia. Cat is hoping this will be the missing piece of her puzzle. Things go really well in Nantucket, that is until they don't, thanks to Cat's alcohol abuse. Many years later, Cat is faced with an opportunity to make amends in Nantucket with the family she blew it with, but can they forgive her? Jane Green's Summer Secrets is surprisingly dark for a summer read, but in true Jane Green fashion, I couldn't stop reading it. I had to know how it was going to end for Cat and I desperately wanted her to find happiness in her second chance at life.
Abigail Foster has always been in the shadow of her younger sister who captivates many suitors with her charm and good looks. At this point in her lifAbigail Foster has always been in the shadow of her younger sister who captivates many suitors with her charm and good looks. At this point in her life, Abigail should be married, but she has never found the right man; in fact, she has been holding out for her childhood and family friend, Gilbert. On the night before Gilbert is leaving England to study abroad in Italy, she finds him sharing what appears to be a romantic moment with her sister, Louisa. This breaks Abigail's heart as she always thought they shared something special. To make matters worse, her father is suffering from financial ruin, thanks to a bad investment; however, the family receives an offer to move to an abandoned manor house, Pembrooke Park, which is owned by a distant relative. Of course they take this serendipitous offer and move into the grand estate, except that the estate has been left abruptly by the previous owners many, many years ago. The table is eerily still set for dinner, tea still pools in the tea cups, furniture and clothing is still in the house just as it was eighteen years ago. It's all very strange and Abigail was hoping to find answers from her neighbors, including the town curate, but everyone is evasive and no one seems to explain Pembrooke Park's strange past. There are rumors of murder, secret rooms and even treasure hidden within the house. One thing is for sure: this is very different than Abigail's life in London. Julie Klassen's The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a charming read. Fans of Jane Austen and Regency novels will savor this book.