Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

0-545-05474-5312 pages

Published March 1st 2009 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear–part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify–and he’s always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm’s mailroom in order to experience “the real world.” There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.

He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it’s a picture he finds in a file — a picture of a girl with half a face — that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

Marcelo doesn’t want to work at the firm in the real world, but his father Arturo makes a deal with him. He wants Marcelo to go to a normal high school for his senior year, but Marcelo wants to go to his special school. Arturo says that if Marcelo tries really hard to fit into the real world at the firm over the summer, then he can pick which school he’ll attend. Also, once Arturo has his mind set on something, he pretty much gets his own way.
You can’t help but love Marcelo. Throughout the novel, you watch him grow and learn things about the world. You can kind of feel the sharks circling at the law firm and you just want to protect him from them. But the thing is, after a while you realise that he is more than capable of standing up for himself. All the characters are great, actually.
Marcelo in the Real World is fascinating, thought provoking, funny, heartbreaking and well written. It’s a much smarter read than a lot of the young adult stuff out there.
My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.02/5

Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett.

12026682318 pages
Published July 26th 2010 by Createspace
Goth-girl Jen bets her friends that she can bring Geek-boy Trevor to the dark side.  Jen begins her pursuit of the actually-quite-cute Trev (“It’s Trevor“), but the more time they spend together, the more Jen likes him. First as a friend, but then as more. Is she corrupting the Geek, or is he dragging her out of the dark?
Jen is seventeen and has been kicked around foster families for years – her own parents so far out of the picture you’d need some kind of super telescope to even see them. A while ago, she decided that she would be the one to decide when it was time to move onto a new family, and start acting out until her current family can’t handle her anymore. Now, with Trevor in the picture, and the fact that the Grants, her foster family, actually seem to care about her, Jen starts thinking that maybe it’s time she settled down?
But when Trevor finds out about the bet, will Jen be able to convince him that it wasn’t all a lie?
Jen plays to win, she just never imagined what the prize would be.
Geek Girl really impressed me. Once again, I found myself in the position of wanting to transition from new adult books back to young adult so I can hopefully tackle some of the many novels of that genre that are lying in wait. I try to pick the transition book carefully because sometimes I find the much younger main character very annoying after reading people’s voices that are my own age. Anyway. I really really really liked this book.
Jen and Trevor are just great. It’s always exciting and fresh to read a teen romance where the girl is bad and the boy is good, as opposed to the never ending list of bad boy/good girl novels out there. Their romance is also just very well done. It isn’t rushed – they start out as friends and slowly move into more. Even when they are together as boyfriend and girlfriend, it’s quite innocent. It’s refreshing to read a book without sex or swearing.
I also really love Jen because here is a girl that has had the worst childhood, but she’s finally beginning to accept that she might have a second chance. She’s finally growing up and wanting to settle down. I’ve always enjoyed reading about people who are broken being put back together again (but it has to be done the right way – even though so many contemporary new adult novels are about broken people, they aren’t as nice as this. I think it’s the innocence thing – but I’m not sure).
My fellow young adult readers, definitely give Geek Girl a try!
My Rating: 4.5/5
Goodreads rating: 4.09/5

A Man for the Summer by Ruby Laska.

16147126

166 pages
Published November 4th 2012

Book Blurb: Dentist Junior Atkinson left her tiny home town to see if she would fit in better in the big city. She definitely didn’t. Now she’s back, living in the house she grew up in, friendly with every citizen of the two-stoplight town. Things couldn’t be more wonderful. Well, maybe if her patients paid her regularly. If there was an eligible man in a fifty-mile radius. If she hadn’t just been told that a medical condition meant she had only a few more fertile months despite her tender age of twenty-eight. Junior barely has time to digest this news when she finds hunky travel writer Griff Ross in her chair with a hell of a toothache.

Note: It’s just occurred to me that A Man for the Summer is probably the type of book that’s best read when you don’t know too much about it. The above blurb is accurate, but it also focuses on stuff that is hardly mentioned in the novel – like Junior’s travelling to the big city. I’ve written a more involved and accurate blurb, but don’t read it if you think it might spoil your reading experience! This is only a short book, so maybe it’s nice to just go in kind of blind, if you know what I mean.

My Revised Blurb: Griff Ross has a hell of a toothache, and manages to get an emergency appointment with Junior Atkinson. While the drugged Griff seems to be sleeping, Junior and her assistant (also her aunt) are discussing the fact that Junior’s doctor has just told her that she only has a few months left of fertility. The aunt suggests that if she wants a baby, she should just go for it with the hunky travelling writer. This big-city man is much more ideal of a sperm donor (really, that’s all he would be) than any of the guys in her small town – and soon he’ll be gone, out of Junior’s life forever. Unfortunately, Griff overhears the women talking – only he mistakes their meaning. He thinks that Junior is a dying virgin, just wanting to have sex before she dies.

Another Note: I was going to write even more, but I’ve changed my mind – I will not spoil it!

So like I said, A Man for the Summer is very short (it’s also quite sweet). It’s a cute little romance about what happens when opposites attract and you come to a fork in the road and your life takes a different turn, etc.

That stuff in the original blurb about Junior moving to the big smoke was only briefly mentioned once or twice. It’s really only about the initial romance between a city boy and a small town girl.

I liked Griff and Junior. Sometimes I thought that their once-very-strong opinions were adapting too quickly, but on second thoughts, I decided that I didn’t mind so much.

I would suggest you read this if you are looking for an in-between kind of novel. It’s a quick and easy romance to act as a bridge between heavier books. At least, that’s what I used it as, and enjoyed it quite a bit.

My rating: 3/5

Goodreads rating: 3/5

The Love Game by Emma Hart.

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Book One in The Love Game series.

321 pages

Published March 29th 2013 by Emma Hart

Maddie is the gorgeous unattached girl from Brooklyn. Braden is the definitive player/man whore. Maddie and her friends decide that someone needs to teach Braden a lesson – they want Maddie to make him fall in love with her and then dump him. She hates him deeply but agrees for some reason that even she isn’t privy to. Braden and his friends bet that Bray should try to get Maddie to fall for and have sex with him within a certain time frame. He thinks she’s completely hot, so has no problem trying to get into her pants. They each have a month to complete their task. Meanwhile, Maddie’s got family issues – like the fact that her loser brother is asking for money again.

What happens if Maddie and Bray fall in love for real?

What I liked about The Love Game: *There weren’t issues/troubled pasts/etc from both main characters, and Maddie’s family issues weren’t treated like some massive secret – sometimes I feel like all the drama gets a bit much in these type of novels, so it was good to not have too much ‘troubled past’ stuff going on. *The old ‘bet to get the girl/guy’ plot is an oldie but a goldie, so no complaints from me on the storyline. *I liked reading from both Maddie and Braden’s point of view – I usually like this style in any book!

What I didn’t like about The Love Game: *So many unnecessary f-bombs – I might know a few people who swear every second sentence or so, but in this book it’s practically the entire cast! They need to wash their mouths out with soap! *Sometimes the writing style seemed a little unsophisticated. *I hated the way that Braden always calls Maddie ‘angel’ – right from the beginning! I was like, Excuse Me, but she has a name, would you mind using it? I guess I am not such a big fan of pet names (once my sister sent me a text that was meant for her husband and she called him this cutesie pet name – I pretty much gagged. So not my thing!). *The other thing I don’t get in this string of good-girl-gets-the-bad-boy/mega-player type novels that I have been reading, is how there’s always a guy that every single girl seems to be going on heat for. I mean, really? Are there guys that hot and alluring out there that girls will turn on each other to get a piece of them? I’ve known really good looking guys, but girls don’t act like it’s mating season around them. I don’t know, it just bugs me.

I know my list of stuff I didn’t like is much longer than the list of stuff that I did like, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy The Love Game. It’s certainly one of the more forgettable new adult books out there, but it’s an alright read. I think that I’m intrigued enough to go on and read one of the other couple’s stories in the next installment of the series.

My rating: 3/5

Goodreads rating: 4.04/5

Unteachable by Leah Raeder.

17978680268 pages

Published July 27th 2013 by Velvet Pony Press

Okay, so Maise has some serious only-attracted-to-older-men tendencies. She grew up without a dad and is aware of the Freudian theory in play there. But the reasons she only sleeps with older men go beyond her daddy issues – frankly, boys her age have no clue what they’re doing and are just really immature.

She is eighteen and just about to enter her senior year of high school when she meets Evan at a carnival. They end up in his car and have a connection that goes beyond sex. So afterwards, Maise kind of freaks out and has to get out of there and away from this man who seems to care.

But lo and behold – Evan is actually Mr. Wilke, Maise’s new film studies teacher at school! Despite the obvious road block in their way, Maise and Evan soon begin a torrid (technically legal, thank you) affair.

All the while, Maise develops a friendship with Wesley, another student in her film studies class. She’s not the type to have friends, but Wesley is different. There is also Maise’s mother, a drug dealer who has never really made much of an effort to protect her daughter from any of the scumbags that hang around as a result. Maise herself doesn’t do drugs – she’s too smart for that. She doesn’t want anything to jeopardise her future: she’s going to get into a good uni and out of this town. So where does the teacher that she’s falling for fit into her future?

“…You should love something while you have it, love it fully and without reservation, even if you know you’ll lose it someday. We lose everything. If you’re trying to avoid loss, there’s no point in taking another breath, or letting your heart beat one more time. It all ends.” His fingers curl around mine. “That’s all life is. Breathing in, breathing out. The space between two breaths.” 

My first thought when I started to read Unteachable is that it’s really beautifully written. The language and imagery is rich and heavy. Maise is so different from your average high schooler with superficial issues. I absolutely loved her right from the start. As for Evan: it’s weird, but I don’t have any really solid feelings about him. I mean, I think that he was right for the story, but I don’t count him as a really memorable and sexy fictional male lead. My opinion of him kept changing as I got further into the novel.

It’s definitely quite graphic. The sex scenes, for example – there are a lot of them! And there’s lots of f-bombs, too. Just a heads up.

I’m finding it hard to put my feelings about Unteachable into words. All I can say is that it’s a really good book – the writing is of a much higher quality than other novels of it’s price range (and even a lot of novels that cost a heap more!) and Maise is incredibly captivating – a character who is worthy of your time.

If you are into new adult stuff, then read it.

My rating: 4/5

Goodreads rating: 4.06/5

Redesigned by Denise Grover Swank.

17788557Book Two in the Off the Subject series.

294 pages

Published June 10th 2013 by Createspace

Fashion major Caroline has a plan for her life: find a man to marry who will make plenty of money to support her so that she or her future children are never wanting for anything. She comes from a very poor family and never wants to feel the hunger or longing that comes with being destitute again.

Unfortunately, she is already in her senior year and all the men that she dates are completely wrong for her (and sometimes they’re real idiots, too). When she meets Reed Pendergraft the attraction is immediate – they drive each other crazy, and not only in the good way! He is pompous and argumentative, and Caroline can’t help but argue back. They are most definitely hot for each other – but Reed is a math major who wants to become a college professor and therefore won’t make much money. He doesn’t fit Caroline’s criteria for the perfect man at all.

Meanwhile, Caroline has been chosen to be on the committee for the college’s fashion show. And guess who else is there as a facilitator? Reed Pendergraft, as well as his sweet little sister who Caroline can’t help but like. How long can Reed and Caroline really last without succumbing to their attraction? Does she need to reevaluate her plans for the future?

 

Redesigned is kind of the opposite of After Math. Rather than spending ages getting to know each other before anything physical happens like Scarlett and Tucker did, Reed and Caroline pretty much get straight to the physical stuff. Also, since we already knew a bit of Caroline’s back story from After Math, that leaves Reed to be the cagey one. You can tell he’s hiding something straight away, and you don’t get answers until close to the end of the book.

Caroline’s point of view is a lot easier to read from than Scarlett’s. Sometimes while reading After Math, I’d find myself sighing and getting a bit distracted, but Redesigned is much more fun and better paced. Also, (I keep comparing the two novels, but I can’t help it) the physical stuff in After Math seemed kind of … passionless. But Redesigned handled that side of things much better.

Reed’s big reveal was good in theory, but thinking back, I wasn’t sure if the character it pertained to acted appropriately throughout the novel. Then again, everyone reacts to things differently, so how should I know?

All in all, this was a very enjoyable and readable novel. If you read After Math and thought ‘I’m not going there again!’, try this anyway because it is very different.

My rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.25/5

After Math by Denise Grover Swank.

17270349

First book in the Off the Subject series.

250 pages

Published March 12th 2013 by Createspace

Scarlett is an introverted math major with social anxiety issues. She is in her third year at Southern University and has her heart set on working for the CIA. She works at the math tutoring lab a couple of days a week, and is asked to privately tutor Tucker Price – the golden soccer guy. She knew of Tucker before she was semi-forced into tutoring him, everyone did, but she only knew of the bad boy, ladykiller, sports god persona he puts on display. Right from the first time they meet, Scarlett treats Tucker like any other person – something that he is not used to but can’t get enough of.

Scarlett continues to tutor Tucker, while they slowly start to trust each other more and reveal more about themselves – both have troubled pasts that haunt them and shape who they are. But as close as they get, Scarlett can’t quite believe that anything romantic will ever come of it – she thinks she’s too broken to ever be loved.

 

Scarlett is such a serious, shy, anxious kind of chick. She thinks through everything, and constantly explains how she’s feeling and why she’s feeling that way. I know she’s a left brainer, but reading from her point of view felt a little dry or bland sometimes. I think that if this was the first Denise Grover Swank book that I had read, I may not have gone on to read more. But since I’ve read Twenty-eight and a Half Wishes, I know that not all of her books are like that. I guess it’s a good thing that she stayed so true to Scarlett’s personality.

The romance is very slow building. Tucker and Scarlett have a lot of personal issues that they need to work through first. But even when the romantic side of things kick off, it’s a little underwhelming and rushed. After they got together, there were moments when I was like, ‘huh?’ I just didn’t get the strange way that the pair were acting. But once again, they are both new at relationships, so there you go.

All in all, it was a pretty good read. It’s certainly not one of the best new adult novels out there, but I am interested enough to read the next book, which is from Scarlett’s roommate/best friend Caroline’s point of view.

My rating: 3/5

Goodreads rating: 3.83/5