Posts Categorized: YA contemporary

Review- Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters

20 Mar, 2012 by in meredith zeitlin, putnam, YA contemporary 1 comment

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters
by Meredith Zeitlin
Paperback, 282 pages
Published:  March 1, 2012
by G.P. Putnam’s Son
ISBN 978-0-399-25423-9
Book Source: author
3 stars
Summary from Amazon: Laugh-out-loud funny high school drama – perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Meg CabotLet’s say you’re fourteen and live in New York City. You’d
think your life would be like a glamorous TV show, right? And yet . . . You don’t have a checking account, much less a personal Black American Express card.You’ve never been to a club, and the only couture in your closet is a Halloween costume your mom made from an old laundry bag.In other words? You’re Kelsey Finkelstein – fourteen and frustrated. Every time she tries to live up to
her awesome potential, her plans are foiled. Kelsey wants to rebrand herself for
high school to make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny. But just because
Kelsey has a plan for greatness . . . it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is
in on it.Kelsey’s hilarious commentary and sardonic narration of her
freshman year will have readers laughing out loud – while being thankful that
they’re not in her shoes, of course.
Jodi’s Review: Let’s face it, the first year of high school is a challenge, no matter who you are. The main character, Kelsey is ready to face her first year of high school head on. Kelsey has decided to do something this year. Kelsey wants to make a mark, stand out. Kelsey does manage to stand out, but perhaps not in ways she planned. From upsetting a very popular Junior girl the first day of school to a horrible first date, this book is full of laughs. Many teenage girls can relate to the trials and tribulations high school brings. I as a parent however, would want make sure I discussed with my daughter some of the subjects that arise in this book. I recommend this book for ages 14 and up.
Content: Underage drinking, drug use, sex, and homosexuality

Review- The Difference Between You and Me

08 Mar, 2012 by in madeline george, viking, YA contemporary Leave a comment

The Difference Between You and Me
by Madeleine George
Paperback, 255 pages
Expected Publication Date: March 15th 2012
by Viking Children’s Books
ISBN 0670011282
Book Source: publisher
3.5 Stars
Summary from Goodreads: Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman’s boots. She’s the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She’s vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend.
These two girls have nothing in common, except the passionate “private time” they share every Tuesday afternoon. Jesse wishes their relationship could be out in the open, but Emily feels she has too much to lose. When they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated school conflict, they each have to decide what’s more important: what you believe in, or the one you love?
Crystal’s Review: Sometimes in life opposites attract. This is certainly the case with Jesse and Emily. Jesse is an outspoken rebel with a cause and Emily is the popular student council vice president. One encounter in a dimly lit bathroom is all it takes for these girls to come together and realize their attraction for one another. This could be the start to a great love story, if not for the fact that Emily wants to keep the relationship where it started, in the bathroom. The difference between you and me is a touching story about love, secrets and acceptance. Each chapter I felt like I was getting to know the characters more and more. The author does a great job of describing the characters and their feelings,making if very hard to put anyone under the category of good or bad. I found this story to be a thought provoking read. Not only did it have me considering what I would do if I were in the main characters situation, it also had me thinking about the things I believe in and if I would be strong enough to stand up for those things even if I was the only one.
Content: Sexual situations, Sexuality
About the Author:  Madeleine George writes books and plays.

Her two novels, LOOKS and THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME, are published by Viking Children’s Books. Her plays, including THE ZERO HOUR, PRECIOUS LITTLE, and SEVEN HOMELESS MAMMOTHS WANDER NEW ENGLAND, have been developed and produced at theaters across the country. She’s a founding member of the Obie-winning playwrights’ collective 13P (Thirteen Playwrights, Inc.), and a resident playwright at New Dramatists. Madeleine grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, and now lives in Brooklyn. 

Book Review- The Queen of Kentucky

09 Jan, 2012 by in poppy, queen of kentucky, YA contemporary 1 comment

by Alecia Whitaker
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published January 2nd 2012
by Poppy
Book Source: Publisher
4 stars

Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would prefer to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer’s daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small town high school. She trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new “sophisticated” clothes and somehow manages to secure a tenuous spot at the cool kids table. She’s on top of the world, even though her best friend and the boy next door Luke says he misses “plain old Ricki Jo.”

Caught between being a country girl and wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn’t care what people think and who wouldn’t let a good-looking guy walk all over her. It takes a serious incident out on Luke’s farm for Ricki Jo to realize that being a true friend is more important than being popular.

The Queen of Kentucky has so many things going for it. First is the cover, which is one of my favorites I’ve seen come in the mail. It’s not that often we see covers in yellow- it jumps out at you. The second thing is the fun trailer and third is the author. I admire authors who take time our of their busy schedules to tweet and thank you for reading their book. The setting is the deep south which wide open spaces, dusty dirt roads,a pond and acres and acres of tobacco. I became immediately immersed in the rural roots of Ricki Jo Winstead and her best friend Luke. It’s the summer before Ricki Jo’s freshman year, her first year in high school. She’s determined to reinvent herself, ditch the two names for a sassier version- Ericka. Fortune falls on her side when the four most popular girls end up in her homeroom and the school stud muffin sits next to her in Spanish. Wolf looks like he just stepped out of an Abercrombie ad and smells like it too. He’s the guy everyone is vying for, the top of Ericka’s wish list. Buy some new clothes, make the cheer leading squad, get asked to homecoming and go through puberty then Ricky Jo might just pull off the new and improved Ericka.

A coming of age tale of a 14 year old girl, this book brought back so many memories of ninth grade year (we were still in junior high). As Ericka moves up the social chain she begins to shed some of her most important friends and values. She also gets repeatedly made fun of and mistreated by her “friends.” It was painful for me to read. She has fabulous parents,a religious upbringing and the perfect boy next door but she’s willing to give it all up for a chance at popularity. Soon a middle grade lifestyle turns much more YA- into sneaking out, lots of talk about sex, streaking, drinking, cheating on school work and belittling her once closest friend. While I can sympathize with the fact that Ericka is young and has a mission, I would have liked to have seen more development of character as the book progresses. Time and time again she is mistreated by her love interest and group of new friends. Instead of standing up for herself or rebuilding those whose names she has defamed …in her upward climb, she takes it all in stride. The ending was just what I wanted to see, but too little too late for me to sympathize fully with the the main character.

Alecia Whitaker is a very talented writer. You can tell she weaves her knowledge and love for the South into her story. Her characters were well fleshed out and vivid. I like that she handles the very hard issue of alcoholism of a parent and domestic violence as it influences the children in the home. I also really liked her references to reading the bible and the importance of sticking to your roots. I could have lived in the county with Ricky Jo before she became Ericka and Luke forever. He is everything you’d want and more. I savored the innocence and closeness of their friendship. Thank so much to Poppy for a chance to read The Queen of Kentucky.

About the Author: Alecia Whitaker grew up with a big imagination on a small farm in Kentucky, which was worlds away from where she currently resides in fast-paced New York City. She knows more about cows, tobacco, frog gigging, and carpentry than the average girl, and she applies the work ethic and common sense she learned from her southern upbringing to the way she now navigates her career and family life in the big city.

Although she graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BFA in Theatre and a BS in Advertising, she’s always been a writer. She won the Soil Conservation Essay contest in the 4th grade, was selected as a Governor’s School for the Arts student in Creative Writing in the 10th grade, and then in college, she was a Top Ten Finalist in the US Southeast Region for a Ten Minute Playwriting competition at James Madison University.

Since then, she has been in loads of commercials, as well as on stage in a few small theatrical productions and poetry slams. She appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show numerous times, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, and was a contestant on Deal Or No Deal.

Her personal essays have been published in the anthology Blink: Fiction in the Blink of an Eye and several times in Underwired Magazine. She co-wrote the popular one act play Becoming Woman with a grant from The Kentucky Foundation for Women. The Queen of Kentucky is her first novel and proudest artistic accomplishment.

Now living in New York City with her husband and son, she is amused at how often her big imagination takes her back to a simpler life in Kentucky.

Learn more about Alecia on her website.

Love & Leftovers Review and ARC Giveaway

02 Jan, 2012 by in sarah tregay, YA contemporary 1 comment

Love & Leftovers
by Sarah Tregay
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published December 27th 2011
by Harper Collins 
ISBN 0062023586
Book source: publisher
3.5 stars

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “vacation” has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

Love and Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

I picked up Love and Leftovers from Harper Collins over the holiday and found it to be a nice, fresh break from heavy reading. Even at over 400 pages, since it’s written in verse it’s a quick nicely flowing read, similar to the style of Lisa Schroeder. Marcie and her family are living in Idaho where she has the perfect emo boyfriend who is somewhat shy and studious with a rock band made up of a group of her friends called the leftovers. They don’t quite fit in with the rest of the groups at their school but they stick together and make the perfect fit amongst themselves. Life shifts one day when Marcie and her mother run into Marcie’s dad with a another man who is more than “just a friend.” Mom decides it’s time for a divorce and heads back to her hometown in New Hampshire with Marice in tow.

Sarah Tregay does a great job contrasting the life of Idaho versus the life on the Eastern seaboard, describing the humorous accent “like buttah.” JD, a popular member of the football team takes an interest in Marcie as the new girl at school and she shifts from being a leftover to being one of the popular crowd. All the while Marcie’s mom has taken a spiral for the worst and is battling severe depression. Without becoming heavy handed the story addresses teenage sexuality, coming of age, divorce, depression, teen parenting and codependency. I really liked the way Marcie’s mother’s issues were written in a realistic fashion that accurately portrays how parental depression can influence a teen. While battling to function daily, her mom doesn’t have the skills to cope with what’s going on with Marcie who has just recently discovered she has hormones and questions- a lot of them.
I also liked the way her dad and his partner handled Marcie. Dad coming in to answer her questions while his boyfriend takes up running alongside Marcie to get to know her. Even though I don’t agree with some of their answers I like their open lines of communication. Obviously she has a lot of navigating to do and both she and her boyfriend make some pretty stupid choices. But overall, the tone remains light. I will say this is definitely a book for older teens as there is moderate swearing including the “f” word and very open discussion of sex, condoms, birth control, sexual orientation, and exploration. It is heavy handed in the hormone department so parents may want to check it out. I like that the author compares how the mother and father each handle or don’t handle Marcie’s tough questions. Thanks so much to Harper Teen for the advanced reading copy!
Author Bio: Raised without television, I started writing my own middle grade novels after I had read all of the ones in the library. I later discovered YA books, but never did make it to the adult section. When I’m not jotting down poems at stoplights, I can be found hanging out with my “little sister” from Big Brothers Big Sisters or stressing over performance classes at a model horse show
I have both a Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art in graphic design, and my obsession with typography and layout naturally translates into formatting poetry on the page.
I live in Eagle, Idaho with my husband, two Boston Terriers, and an appaloosa named Mr. Pots.
Find Sarah on her website and Amazon
Fire and Ice is giving away our advanced reading copy of Love and Leftovers to one of our readers! To enter fill out this form. Giveaway ends January 16, 2012. Must be 16 or older and have a US mailing address.

Book Review- Snowed In

18 Nov, 2011 by in rachel hawthorne, snowed in, YA contemporary 1 comment

Snowed In
by Rachel Hawthorne
Paperback, 261 pages
Published December 1st 2007

by HarperTeen
ISBN 0061138363

5 stars

Well, apparently I live here now—my mom just bought the place. And named it after me, Ashleigh, which was nice. But did she know how cold it is here??

Um, it’s a tiny island with not much to do, unless you really like sleigh rides. But I gotta say there are quite a few hot guys on this cold island . . .

Last week I asked by bookish friends on Twitter for recommendations of some good Christmasy/ winter set YA books and Snowed In came highly suggested. Gotta say this was a fun read. I think I may have found a new favorite author in Rachel Hawthorne!

Ashleigh and her mother have just moved from scorching hot Texas to a tiny remote island in the Midwest where there is no motorized transportation and the local scene is tight knit. The homes are historic Victorian cottages complete with turrets, one of them turned Bed and Breakfast by Ashleigh’s mom. Main Street is famous for handmade fudge whipped up by two other teens in the town, Chase who flirts with all the fudgies (tourists) and Nathalie who has a long standing boyfriend of five years and claims right off to be Ashleigh’s best friend. Her new home even has a local lumber jack, or at least a cute dark haired handy man who looks exactly like one! How can Ashleigh possibly ignore Josh when he shows up every day at her house to do repairs with his dad? Who knew stencling walls with someone could be so intense?

Everything about this book is quaint and magical. Snowed In is a light romance and the storyline between the two main characters unfolds at a perfect pace. If you’re looking for a good short book to curl up with during a snow storm this is it! There is some swearing and lots of kissing, but overall it’s clean for teens.

Book Review- Bunheads

04 Nov, 2011 by in poppy, sophie flack, YA contemporary 4 comments

by Sophie Flack
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published October 10th 2011
by Poppy
ISBN 0316126535
Book Source: publisher
4.5 stars

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

I am so excited about all of the awesome YA contemp releases this year! Bunheads takes a hard look into a life I am familiar with. I started dancing when I was 2 all the way through college and later as an adult I taught ballet, worked as a professional African dancer and ran my own studio at home. One aspect I never had an inside track on was the workings of a professional ballet dancer so this book was fascinating to me. Sophie Flack obviously pours much of her own personal experience and feelings into her main character Hannah who leaves home at the age of 14 to enter the Manhattan Ballet Company. Now age 19, she is working her way to the top towards a soloist position. She literally uses very bit of time dancing, doing yoga, working out and watching what she eats. Bunheads delves deeply into the reality of the pressures on dancers- their struggles with body image and the debilitating effects of eating disorders. I like that the author shows the dichotomy of a girl genuinely struggling with trying to please her teacher’s by slimming down amidst the back drop of other dancers falling gravely ill with thyroid and blood disorders as a result of their anorexia. The main focus of the book is Hannah’s every day work in the company as well as her examination of life as it is. Maybe it’s time to move on outside the dark theater and explore other options that await.

One of those things she wants to have more time for is the handsome NYU student and musician Jacob she meets one day at her Uncle’s bar. Throughout the majority of the book Hannah has to tell him time and time again she can’t go out, can’t see his shows, can’t carve out a second for him. And then there’s Matt the wealthy uber fan who woos her from the sidelines with gourmet lunches and fancy Opera guild parties. Those few tiny moments when Hannah does get away paint an interesting view of New York and all it has to offer. I found myself wanting to shake Hannah at times and tell her to take a break, but I think Flack’s writing and plot were realistic. I would recommend this book for ages 16 and older because of lots of underage drinking, one heavy make out scene and a couple of “F”words. I think both non-dancers and dancers alike will enjoy Bunheads although the author uses ballet terminology without explanation which may seem repetitive to those who can’t visualize the steps. Overall, this is a great pick! I finished it in one sitting, about 4 hours total and I hope to see more from Sophie Flack in the future.

Book Review and ARC Giveaway- Virtuosity

31 Oct, 2011 by in book review, Simon Pulse, virtuosity, YA contemporary 14 comments

by Jessica Martinez

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 18th 2011

by Simon Pulse
ISBN 1442420529

4 stars

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot…what if Jeremy is better?
Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her–and riles her up–like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….

I picked up Virtuosity at the Simon and Schuster blogger event at BEA and it was one of the books I was most excited about reading. The cover threw me off a bit once I got into it because it really doesn’t match the mood or main character of the story. Carmen Bianchi is a 17 year old child prodigy who’s already won a Grammy and is now working toward the most important competition of her career-the Guarneri. If she wins it means a new violin, and touring some of the most prestigious music halls of the world as a soloist. But Carmen has felt her passion and skill slipping away in the grip of performance anxiety and psychological addiction to the drug Inderal. As her mom and violin coach Yuri pour on the pressure, Carmen’s performance continues to deteriorate. She wants to know what she’s up against and finds Jeremy King, who in every way seems to be just like her only he’s British and he looks like he’s a young little boy with curly blond hair and dimples. That is online. When she “bumps”into him in person she’s surprised by what she finds and mortified that he catches her spying. So begins the perfect banter and chemistry between Carmen and Jeremy who both want and need so badly to win.

Virtuosity was a refreshing change of pace for contemporary YA with music as the focal point. I’m not a big fan of prologues that give away future plot points so I kind of wish it would have been left out. I loved that it was clean with only a couple swear words in the entire book and minus sexual content. The characters and the places they visit jumped right off the page for me. I genuinely loved the support Jeremy and Carmen show for each other given that they have every reason to mistrust and even dislike one another. I am a little concerned about the portrayal of an anti anxiety drug as evil because there are many teens who may genuinely battle with anxiety and have to turn to medication for relief. Other than that the only other wish I had is that the ending was more fully fleshed out and not so rushed. I would recommend Virtuosity to readers over 14 as a good clean look into the life of a teen professional musician who is fighting against pressure from a parent. It’s a tale of forbidden love and self-discovery that I genuinely enjoyed!

To enter to win an ARC of Virtuosity courtesy of Fire and Ice and SimonTeen click here and fill out the form.

Author Interview With Maggie Fechner

24 Nov, 2010 by in maggie fechner, YA contemporary 5 comments

Our interview is with the author of Growing Up Gracie, just released by Cedar Fort books. (see our review below this post)

What made you decide to be a writer? Any authors or books that inspired you? Although I have written since I was very young, I didn’t grow up planning to be a writer. However my high school journalism teacher had a very wonderful influence on me and he really encouraged me in my writing.

I noticed you are also a photographer (YAY) What hobbies take up your “free time”? Yes, I am a portrait photographer with a small business, specializing in family photography. (I saw you are too!). Between writing and photography I spend way too much time on the computer. However, in the summer our family really enjoys boating. My husband wake boards and I spend the whole summer attempting to get up on the board. (Athleticism never was my strong suit).

There are several references to other books in Growing Up Gracie, tell us about those. Yes. Gracie loves to read. Some of her favorites were some of mine. I remember my fifth grade teacher reading us aloud Where the Red Fern Grows and I was so engrossed in it. Also, we both loved Pride and Prejudice.

What would the playlist for Growing Up Gracie Look like?
Okay, this is my favorite interview question ever (and coming from a former reporter, that’s quite a compliment!) Gracie’s playlist would definitely be heavy on the Chris LeDoux and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Probably a lot of Garth Brooks. Not so much the newer country, but the fun older stuff. She would also have a little Cotton-Eyed Joe or something fun and dancey to rock out with Liza and Chelsea to on those long lonely Wyoming highways.

Any other books in the works?
Yes! The Letters Never Sent is a mainstream (non-LDS, but still very clean :)) historical fiction novel. It’s about the journey toward finding home and a sense of self for several women in the Cameron family. I have just completed a rough draft and am beginning revisions.
Also I have hopes to create a Fremont Family series with the next book focusing on one of Gracie’s sisters, Danielle.

photo taken from Maggie’s author blog

Tell us why you chose Cody, Wyoming for the setting? How is is similar to places you have lived? I grew up in Cody. And although I’ve been away for the past 12 years, I often still refer to it as home. It was a wonderful place to grow up and I love the small town feel. I love the beautiful mountains and the proximity to Yellowstone Park. Cody has a unique country atmosphere as it has been coined the “Rodeo Capitol of the World” and is the only place in the world with a rodeo every night of the summer. Although my real life hasn’t taken me back there, my writing seems to take me back again and again.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
Hmmm… That’s a tough one. I think my two favorite parts are both at the end–one is with Gracie’s best friends and another is with her true love–but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything 🙂

Are there lessons from Growing Up Gracie you hope others will take away?
Absolutely. Especially teenage girls who are feeling average. I would hope they would take away that God makes each person amazing in their own unique ways and by following their hearts they can live extraordinary lives.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career so far?
The funnest moment of my writing career was as a reporter when I went skydiving to write a story about a local skydiving club. The most rewarding moment of my writing career so far was when I was contacted by Cedar Fort Publishing and heard the words, we want to offer you a contract for your novel.

Thank you so much for the interview! Visit Maggie’s website at

Order Growing Up Gracie in Kindle or Paperback here on Amazon, Cedar Fort or from Deseret Book and we are giving away a copy of Growing Up Gracie to our readers, enter by filling out the form below.


Review: Being Sixteen by Allyson Condie

02 Nov, 2010 by in YA contemporary 1 comment

Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 3rd 2010
by Deseret Book Company
ISBN 1606412337
5 stars

Juliet Kendall has been looking forward to her sixteenth birthday for what feels like forever. At first, it seems like being sixteen will be as perfect as she dreamed—she has great friends, a cute almost-boyfriend, a spot on the varsity girls’ basketball team, and even a car of her own. But, as the year goes on, she discovers that her sister Carly is hiding a secret, and realizes that, in fact, being sixteen may be her hardest year yet.

Being Sixteen is a coming-of-age story about two sisters and their different struggles. It addresses what it means to have a testimony, what it meant to be a friend and a sister, and what’s involved in the dealing with and overcoming an eating disorder.

The first time I saw this book on the shelf at Deseret Book I have to admit I put it back. I just wasn’t sure I was ready to read another book dealing with eating disorders. Then after reading Matched I decided I wanted to delve into more of Ally Condie’s past titles. Being Sixteen resonated with me on so many levels. It hit deep within my core and is now one of my top three favorite books of the year. I found myself in tears several times while reading. The overall message breathes truth and hope. Allyson Condie takes on eating disorders with grace and style. Her voice is poetic, and real. Here’s one of my favorite passages from Juliet, who struggles with isolation and disappointment in the wake of her sister’s disorder.

“On one level I was ashamed of how weak I was, of how I’d do anything to avoid feeling hurt. But on another level I felt almost strong, a little proud of the way I’d cut off the parts of my life that made me feel too much sadness.” p. 124

This is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to every Young Woman I know as well as her parents. Many crucial facets of diagnosis, treatment and the long road to recovery from anorexia and bulimia are addressed. Two sister’s struggles and growing pains are woven beautifully into the pages showing that even those from strong functional families have life altering problems.

Being Sixteen explores the effects of an eating disorder on loved ones and family as well as how easily faith in Heavenly Father can dim, to later be rekindled. Thank you so much to Deseret Book for sending me this book for review. It is one that I will forever remember. Five stars plus.

Blog Tour- I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

10 Oct, 2010 by in scholastic, YA contemporary 1 comment

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2010
by Scholastic
4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Bronwen Oliver doesn’t just want a family. She has one of those, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with them apart from bickering grandparents, an image-obsessed mother and a brother she describes simply as Jesus. But there’s no natural sense of connection between Bronwen and her family, leaving her with the belief — and the hope — that she was switched at birth, that she was never supposed to be Bronwen Oliver but someone else entirely.

When she begins dating college senior Jared Sondervan, she finds herself thoroughly embraced by the loving family she has always wanted and does not hesitate to say yes when Jared proposes on her 18th birthday. Plans for the Perfect Beach Wedding before her junior year of college become plans for the Perfect Beach Wedding before her freshman year of college. And a wedding so soon isn’t exactly what Bronwen wants. But Jared is. And his family is. Or so she thinks.

Before Bronwen can determine what she truly wants, she must first determine who she truly is, and the answer, she discovers, is only partially what she thought it was. She wasn’t switched at birth, but she’s also not Bronwen Oliver and hasn’t been for a very long time.

This book was refreshing to me because it felt real. I grew up with several girl friends who married older guys after graduating from High School and could relate to much of what Bronwen was feeling. Her voice rang true to me as I think it will to many young women. She’s also quirky as a teen can be, so you’ll laugh and you’ll cry while reading.

What I liked: Bronwen wanted to wait until she gets married to be intimate. And she breaks up with her first boyfriend when he pressures her after prom. She has guts and courage. She has a back bone to find out who she is before making her biggest decisions.

What I loved: Jared! He is the perfect all-American boy and his family is amazing. I can see how easy it would be to want to be a part of all that they are. He is amazing, old-fashioned and polite.

What I felt: A wide range of emotions and even a bit sad. Thank you to Erin McCahan for keeping the plot genuine and believable. I would read I Now Pronounce You Someone Else again.

What I Wish: I wish the first scene was written differently. To me, it felt attention grabbing in a negative way, it felt out of place with the remainder of the novel. I wish that we heard more of Jared’s voice.

What I did not like: The way Bronwen describes her brother. It was distracting to me to hear the name of the Lord taken in vain.

The main themes: healing after the loss of a parent, adoption, self-worth and courage to be who you are.

Bio of the author Erin McCahan

“I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but moved to Columbus, Ohio, when I was nearly five. That’s when my mother remarried – four years after my father was killed in Vietnam – and my new step-dad, a six-foot-seven-inch, southern gentleman and surgeon, had just joined a practice here.

I worked a couple summers in his office during college, and let me tell you how much fun that was. He was a colon-rectal surgeon. On my fourth day on the job, I had such a fit of nervous laughter on the phone – having to use the word enema three times in a scripted response to new patients – that I got booted from the receptionist’s desk to the insurance office where I just typed forms for weeks on end.

Enema. Who can say enema without giggling?!

What else? I transferred undergrad so many times I lost count, but spent my best collegiate years at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and Capital University here in Columbus, where I still live. I graduated from Cap with a degree in something. Professional Writing, I think it was called. And I ended up with a religion minor because of one completely fascinating professor. I just kept taking his classes. He literally was one of those bearded, old-Volvo-driving, hang-out-for-hours-with-students kind of profs who really did change lives.

He changed mine.

I ended up going to seminary because of him, mostly studied Hebrew and Greek and loved it, but never felt terribly rooted there — or anywhere until I met this great guy named Tim — so I left and wrote freelance articles for a while. Somehow, accidentally, actually, I ended up as a youth minister. Mostly, I didn’t have the heart to say no to the minister when she offered me the job on a Thursday, saying, “I need someone who can start Sunday.” Only after I accepted did she tell me I was in charge of 12- to 18-year-olds.

Turns out I loved it. Did that for ten years, all the while writing in semi-secret, and like most writers I know, my path to publication was long, crooked and filled with the standard miseries of rejection and discouragement. But it’s all part of the process, one thing leading to another if you don’t quit – and I didn’t – and I found an agent, who sold my manuscript, and here I am an author, something I knew I wanted to be as far back as third grade.

Oh, and that great guy named Tim? I married him. He’s one of the reasons I never quit writing, telling me once to “write until you run out of pens.” I believe I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying at the time, holding my latest rejection letter and muttering something about just getting a job at J. Crew. (It would be nice to have the discount.) His enduring support and belief in my ability everlastingly overwhelm me. That’s why all my books will always be For Timothy.” –Taken from her site