This is the third time I've read this book but the first time I've read it in audio. I love the story but the narration could have been better. I pref...moreThis is the third time I've read this book but the first time I've read it in audio. I love the story but the narration could have been better. I prefer the narrator for the first 3 books in the Heroes of Olympus series (Joshua Swanson) because he actually uses different voices for the characters. With this narrator, sometimes Annabeth sounded just like Percy. Fortunately the story is entertaining enough to keep going and I plan to give the second book a try on audio too.(less)
Last summer was amazing for Mackenzie with her job at Serenity Ranch and Spa, spending time with her best friend Bailey, and falling in love with Land...moreLast summer was amazing for Mackenzie with her job at Serenity Ranch and Spa, spending time with her best friend Bailey, and falling in love with Landon. Sadly he dropped her like a rock at the start of the school year to go back to his ex-girlfriend. This year, Mack and Bailey are back at Serenity and unfortunately so is Landon. The first time they see each other he seems to be mocking her and then expects her to be his friend again. Of course Mack rebuffs him and wonders what she ever saw in him. When Landon takes a nasty spill from his horse during a rodeo practice he has amnesia and thinks it is the previous summer and he and Mack are still a couple. Bailey convinces Mack that this is the opportunity to get him back for dumping her so rudely. They hatch a plan to get him to fall in love with her so this time she can dump him. What Mack doesn't count on is her own feelings getting in the way.
I initially had a problem with Landon because he did come across as a jerk. I half hoped the author would introduce another love interest for Mack. Fortunately things changed after Landon's accident and he once again seemed to be a nice guy but it left me puzzled as to which guy is real. It is only towards the end that the truth emerges about Landon's behavior and why he dumped Mack.
What I liked about this book was the humor and Mack's friendship with Bailey. Mack and Bailey both enjoy playing pranks on Landon and Bailey pushes Mack outside her comfort zone. She definitely makes the book more entertaining. I also liked that this time around Mack is being herself since she isn't actually trying to impress Landon. She admits that last summer she was too busy trying to be the girl Landon thought she was. The real Mack likes to argue and debate, she likes to play pranks, dressing outlandishly and she loves horror movies. As she starts being herself around Landon, he gets to fall in love with her true self, a message which I appreciated.
Overall I thought this was a fun romantic comedy even with its flaws. The plot device of convenient amnesia is not very believable but if the reader is able to overlook that, they may find themselves enjoying the humor or friendships. I think Fool Me Twice would appeal to younger teens who are looking for romantic fiction but older teens may find it a little bland. (less)
I would love to take a trip to Italy so the setting of this book really appealed to me. While I thought Pippa's decision was irresponsible in a way, I...moreI would love to take a trip to Italy so the setting of this book really appealed to me. While I thought Pippa's decision was irresponsible in a way, I could agree with her desire to actually experience Italy for herself and not just spend her time in a classroom.
Pippa has a complicated relationship with her parents, particularly her pushy mother. Her parents are opening an art gallery and they expect Pippa to become part of the family business even though her own interests are in photography rather than painting. Pippa doesn't want to go to Florence and study art all summer but her best friend Morgan tries to help her see the positive side with a fun travel journal full of tasks for Pippa to do once she gets to Italy. Things like having a conversation entirely in Italian or falling in love with an Italian boy. Pippa may have a difficult mother and a father who won't take her side but her grandmother and her best friend are both encouraging and positive people in her life.
Once Pippa lands in Rome she makes the decision to stay a few days and actually see the sights instead of traveling on to Florence immediately and she quickly makes new friends in the form of Darren and Nina. She also befriends Chiara a young Italian teen and through her meets Bruno, the requisite hot Italian bad boy. Pippa is not just trying to meet guys however and she has some fun exploring places like Cinque Terre and Pompeii.
I enjoyed "traveling" with Pippa and while I don't care for love triangles that didn't bother me in this book because it was obvious who Pippa was going to end up with. I think Pippa grew up a little through her adventures and she even found a way to reconnect with her mom which was nice. Wish You Were Italian would make a great beach read. Though there are some sad moments it is mostly lighthearted and fun. The book is part of Bloomsbury's new If Only line of "clean" romances for teens. I would suggest this novel to teens who enjoy contemporary romance and fiction set abroad like The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper or 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.(less)
What would it be like to be the best friend of a teenage Taylor Swift and go on tour with her? While there is some romance between Reagan and Matt, Op...moreWhat would it be like to be the best friend of a teenage Taylor Swift and go on tour with her? While there is some romance between Reagan and Matt, Open Road Summer is mostly a novel about friendship. Lilah (known as Dee to friends and family) is a rising star in the country music world but she has just broken up with her boyfriend back home. The girls both have to deal with difficult emotional issues while also handling the paparazzi and stress of being on tour.
What I really liked about this book was its emphasis on the importance of friendship and what it means to be a good best friend. Reagan may have made mistakes in her past but Dee was always there to help her pick up the pieces and she is determined to be there for Dee when she goes through hard times. Reagan also works hard to leave her past behind her and make better choices. Her relationship with Matt is sweet and he is genuinely a nice guy even though he is also a big music star.
Overall I enjoyed this story of friendship, love, and country music. The author also includes plenty of lyrics and details about the country music scene and what it is like to be on tour which makes the story feel more authentic. I think Open Road Summer would be a great beach read and it is perfect for fans of Elizabeth Eulberg and similar authors.(less)
After reading The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley which also tells the story of a brain dead pregnant woman on life support, I wondered if thi...moreAfter reading The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley which also tells the story of a brain dead pregnant woman on life support, I wondered if this book would be similar. While that book focuses on the ethical aspects and court case, Heartbeat keeps the focus on Emma. There is no court case here or much ethical discussion although Emma is against her stepfather's decision to keep her mother's body on life support for the sake of the baby.
Emma is understandably angry but she also seems incapable of seeing her stepfather Dan's grief and she can be very selfish and mean. While this did not exactly endear her to me I thought it was an authentic portrayal of Emma's feelings. She is not just angry at Dan. She is angry at herself for not spending enough time with her mom and putting too much emphasis on being the perfect student. Emma is also frightened that Dan will abandon her once he has his long awaited child.
Emma is fortunate to have her best friend Olivia who is there for her even when Emma is being self centered. Olivia is supportive and caring even if she can't always understand what Emma is feeling or going through. Emma also develops a friendship/relationship with Caleb, the school troublemaker. Caleb does understand grief because he has suffered the loss of a loved one too. With the help of Caleb and Olivia, Emma is slowly able to forgive herself and begin to mend her relationship with Dan.
Heartbeat is a moving contemporary novel. It is sad but it also has moments of hope and light especially in the scenes between Emma and Caleb. I loved how she started to come out of her solitude with him and I think that seeing the environment he lived in and the way his parents treated him helped her in her own relationship with Dan. Emma grows as a character and she realizes some truths about herself, her mom and Dan, and what is truly important in life.
I think that teens will find it easy to relate to Emma even if they haven't experienced such a personal loss themselves. Fans of Sarah Dessen, Sarah Ockler, Morgan Matson, and Jessi Kirby will likely enjoy it.(less)
Macallan first meets Levi a year after her mother died. Things are still raw and she is tired of being treated differently by those around her so Levi...moreMacallan first meets Levi a year after her mother died. Things are still raw and she is tired of being treated differently by those around her so Levi is like a breath of fresh air. They both share a love of the same BBC show, Buggy and Floyd which initially bonds them. Macallan also becomes close to Levi's mother and their families mesh well together, sharing weekly meals. As the two grow older, their friendship continues to deepen but they hit speed bumps like Levi's desire to be popular and Macallan's tendency to run away when facing difficulties.
Better Off Friends is a novel of friendship, love, and loyalty. The story is told through the perspectives of both Macallan and Levi which allows the reader to get to know both characters better. Macallan seems almost too good to be true but she does have some flaws. It is hard for her to acknowledge her feelings, something that could have been explored more in the novel. She is loyal to her family and friends and she isn't afraid to speak her mind except when it comes to her feelings for Levi. Levi is portrayed as a decent guy though he sometimes chooses popularity over doing what is right.
The novel has been touted as "When Harry Met Sally for teens" and the comparison is apt. Though it would be nice to see a book where the characters remain just friends without undercurrents of romance, it is a good exploration of friendship and growing up and falling in love. The romance is sweet. There isn't an instant attraction but instead it is a love that is based on friendship which makes it more satisfying when the characters get their happy ending.
Better Off Friends would be a good pick for readers of contemporary teen romance and it would be appropriate for younger teens as well. Fans of Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen and teen contemporary romantic comedy should definitely consider picking this up.(less)
Lady Charlotte has not yet had her debut season but she is bored with the life she is expected to lead. She longs for adventure and wants to be an aut...moreLady Charlotte has not yet had her debut season but she is bored with the life she is expected to lead. She longs for adventure and wants to be an author. Unfortunately her mother has other plans and expects Charlotte to secure a marriage proposal from Lord Andrew Broadhurst before the season begins. Janie is a kitchen maid working for Charlotte's family along with her mother who is the cook. Janie knows her place but she has dreams too. Charlotte and Janie's paths cross when she catches Janie dipping her toes in the lake and Charlotte wishes she could have that kind of freedom. A friendship between a kitchen maid and a lady would be forbidden especially by Charlotte's strict mother, Lady Diane but that doesn't stop Charlotte. Then Charlotte's scandalous aunt arrives throwing everything into turmoil.
Manor of Secrets is a little different from the other teen historical fiction set during this time period. While there is that upstairs/downstairs divide, the focus of the novel is on the growing friendship between Charlotte and Janie. The characters seem more innocent and younger too.
Charlotte's naivete can be frustrating. She behaves like a much younger girl at times and she seems to live in a dreamworld. Charlotte is kind to Janie though she doesn't realize it when she puts Janie in a difficult place by asking her to come upstairs to help her though Janie is a kitchen maid. Charlotte also has unrealistic expectations of romance. Although Charlotte is initially annoying, she grows through her friendship with Janie as the story progresses. She is well meaning and she is lonely having never had her mother's love or pride.
Janie on the other hand is more of a realist. She has experienced hardship and is not keen to do anything that would cost her a job since she has only recently been reunited with her mother. Although Janie has the opportunity for romance she knows that she'd be fired if she pursued it. Janie is a more sympathetic character and even though Charlotte endangers her job, she is still willing to try to help her because she understands Charlotte's loneliness.
Manor of Secrets does not have quite the same gossipy feel as other Edwardian/Downton Abbey inspired fiction. It takes a look at family relationships, dreams, and the roles of women during that time period. Although the secret is easy to guess, it may not detract from the reading experience as the book is more about the characters' relationships and friendships than solving a mystery.
I have heard that this author's Tudor fiction is excellent which may be why Manor of Secrets did not quite meet my expectations. The novel has its flaws but it would be a good pick for those who enjoyed Leila Rasheed's Cinders and Sapphires or T.J. Brown's Summerset Abbey. Those readers looking for a little more soapiness or substance should check out The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. (less)
Going Rogue is the sequel to Also Known As. In the last novel, teen spy Maggie and her parents moved to New York for their next mission and Maggie fel...moreGoing Rogue is the sequel to Also Known As. In the last novel, teen spy Maggie and her parents moved to New York for their next mission and Maggie fell in love with her assignment, Jesse and found a best friend in Roux. Maggie finally has a chance at normal high school life though she is feeling kind of bored but things become complicated quickly when her parents are accused of a major theft by the Collective. It is up to Maggie to prove her parents are innocent but she doesn't know who she can trust and she is afraid that her friends and family may be hurt in the process.
Going Rogue is more action packed than Also Known As since the story moves away from high school and involves more spy work. The stakes are higher as Maggie and her loved ones come under fire and there may be turned spies involved. Maggie continues to grow as she thinks about the consequences of her actions and their effects on her friends and family. She also has to learn to trust her friends and trust herself. Maggie has a supportive family which is nice to see in teen fiction where adults are often sidelined or cast in the role of absentee or poor parents (like Roux's family and Jesse's father). Her friends Jesse and Roux are well developed too and continue to show growth as well.
Going Rogue is an entertaining mix of humor and suspense that would appeal to fans of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series. It is a little more mature than those series in terms of some language and underage alcohol consumption. Overall this book is perhaps stronger than the first in the series because it has more spy intrigue as well as the character development. Although this book is not set in high school like Also Known As, teens will be able to relate with Maggie's struggles in her friendships and relationships as well as figuring out who she is and what her purpose is.(less)