The Ordinary Life


Author: Jennifer Walkup
Publisher: Luminis Books, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Sometimes hope is the most extraordinary gift of all.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres’s life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health—not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

Ope’s Opinion:   If you are looking for a wonderfully, sweet, young adult book for yourself or someone who loves young adult reads, I highly recommend this book.  The characters are someone you know ( or maybe you ), the story is sweet ( but not saccharin sweet ), and you will enjoy all the relationships. 

Jasmine’s life isn’t easy, but she makes the best of it.  She is strong, independent, caring and stands on her own two feet.  She is an example of a young adult I would want my teen reading about.  


The Lovely Reckless

lovelyAuthor: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Imprint
Genre:  Contemporary Young Adult
Source: BEA 2016

Goodreads:  I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

Ope’s Opinion: Kami reminds me of Katie McGarry’s writing and subject matter.  The nice girl who meets and falls for the guy who is rough and about to self destruct.  If you like Katie, then add Kami to your TBR list.  You won’t be disappointed. 


Our Chemical Hearts

our chemical hearts

Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source: BEA 2016



Goodreads:  John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

Ope’s Opinion:  It took me a little while to get interested in where this book was going to go.  These characters are interestingly weird.  It was good to read a story from a teenage boys perspective, usually books are written with the female as the main character.  I liked it for a change of reading.

The secrets that were revealed were some what of a surprise and maybe a little unrealistic ( not that all books have to be realistic ).  Murray’s Australian words and accent were sort of annoying.

It may sound strange, but the ending was my favorite part.  It felt realistic and was a nice change from the traditional endings.


The Heartbreakers

the heartbreakersAuthor: Ali Novak
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source:  BEA 2015


“When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Ope’s Opinion: This is definitely a young adult book I would allow my teen to read.  It has characters with good values, but they have flaws, question themselves and other teens would be able to relate to them.

Although the synopsis talks about Cara having cancer and that does play a large part in the story, the story is more about triplets trying to figure out who they are as individuals.  It was interesting to watch each of them take a different path.

The parents are not in much of this story, but you can tell by the triplets that they are loved, are encouraged to be independent and are very supportive.

The story ended as you would expect and I liked that.


Never Always Sometimes


Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source:  BEA 2015


Never date your best friend.

Always be original.
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

Ope’s Opinion:  This is a quirky book.  It started out a little slow.  Getting to know the characters took a little too long for me.  Some of the “nevers” weren’t really interesting and a couple were inappropriate.  It was an interesting way to tell a love story.
This love story will definitely surprise you.  It has two large twists that I did not see coming at all.  I liked the way it went.  I also liked the way it ended.

One Paris Summer

one paris summer

Author: Denise Grover Swank
Publisher: Blink
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source: BEA 2016

Goodreads:  Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

Ope’s Opinion: This is definitely a YA I would encourage my student to read.  It has a lot of relationships that are easy to relate to.  The characters are typical high school students.  They have relationships with each other that are up and down.  The parents are very involved in the students lives – I like that.

I just wanted to keep reading this book.  It had a nice flow of tension, quiet and tension through the whole book.

It was great to see Sophie so focused on her piano.  She was interested in Mathieu, but he wasn’t her sole focus. I like the well rounded characters Swank created.  These are good examples to read about.

At BEA each year, I try to pick up an author that is new to me.  This was my pick this year and it was a hit! I will be looking into Denise Grover Swank’s other books.




Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source:  BEA 2015

Goodreads:  Lorrie Hollander used to be a rich girl who spent her money on boarding school and equestrian camp. But that was before. It’s been twelve years since Lorrie’s mother skipped town and left Lorrie and her sister in the care of her unstable aunt Gigi. Together they live in a decaying mansion called Edgewater, the eyesore in a town of extraordinary wealth and privilege.

While Lorrie is desperately trying to keep her family from collapse, she meets Charlie, the son of an esteemed senator. Terrified that he will learn the truth about her, she holds him at a distance. But Charlie’s family is hiding something, too. And Lorrie could never have imagined how their secrets, and their lives, are inextricably bound.

Courtney Sheinmel’s Edgewater is a gripping story of scandal and romance, shame and redemption, and how one girl must come to terms with a shocking past in order to understand who she truly is.

Ope’s Opinion:  From the beginning I was invested in Lorrie’s life.  Susannah and Aunt Gigi drove me nuts!!  I wanted them to “wake up” and see the mess around them.  I felt sorry for Lorrie dealing with both of them.

There were a lot of interesting twists in the story.  I did not see most of them coming.

I really liked that Lorrie’s romance was only a part of the book.  She had her horse, her friends and had to deal with her family.  It made her a well rounded person – not one dimensional.

I am excited to see what Courtney writes next – and I hope it will be soon!!


Infinite in Between

infiniteAuthor: Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source: BEA

Goodreads: The Breakfast Club meets Boyhood in this striking young adult novel from Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler, which chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. But so much can happen in those in-between years. . . .

Zoe fears she will always be in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways. Infinite in Between received four starred reviews, was listed on several best books of the year lists, and is perfect for fans of books by Jandy Nelson, Sara Zarr, and E. Lockhart.

Ope’s Opinion:

  • Fast read
  • Well developed characters – realistic / relatable characters
  • Fast paced story
  • Some foul language – not an over abundance
  • Some sexual content – not too detailed
  • Short chapters – some times too short
  • Realistic situations – what teens face

    I would definitely allow my teen to read this one, but I would want to have open discussions with them.  There are some deep subjects that are touched on, but no judgement is made.  It is a perfect opening for a dialogue with your student.

    I will be looking for another book by Carolyn Mackler to read.


Nowhere But Here

nowhere but here

Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source:  BEA

Goodreads:  An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

Ope’s Opinion:  If you like Katie McGarry you will like this one.  It is another one of her good girl meets bad boy and can’t get enough of him.  This one centered on bad boy (Oz) bikers, which her ( Emily – MC ) father is one of them.

The secrets were revealed so slowly that they lost their impact on me.  Of course for me the language was too much – I think you can get your point across without all the foul language.


This is Where it Ends

this is where it ends

Author: Marieke Nijamp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source:  BEA

Goodreads:  10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Ope’s Opinion:  When you start this book ( which you should right now! ) make sure you have enough uninterupted time to finish it.  You will not want to stop reading.  Also, take a very large breath because you won’t breathe again until the very end.

In the beginning you will be introduce to may characters and their relationships to each other.  Seeing the event from many of these characters perspective moved the story along.  These relationships are the center to this story.

I will be looking for more books from Marieke Nijkamp.