I will announce the winners of last week’s guest blog contest soon, so don’t worry, it’s not forgotten. This week, our guest blogger is Jennifer Banash, author of The Elite. Comment to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Jennifer’s book! And without further ado…

Ahhh . . . Summer. A time for laying out by the pool in your tiniest white bikini–the one that makes you look twice as dark as you really ARE, drinking iced tea and pink lemonade, hanging out with friends, and, above all, stretching out on the back porch and kicking back with a good book. Summer is all of these things, and usually more-except if you’re me right now. For instance, at the present moment, I’m running around my apartment like a madwoman, trying to box up everything I own in anticipation of my move to Los Angeles in just three short weeks. Do I even HAVE a new apartment in LA to move my copious amounts of crap to? No, I do not.

What I DO have, suddenly, is way too much stuff.-stuff I’m not even sure I really BOUGHT, stuff I don’t want t be responsible for, and, most importantly, stuff I don’t want to pack. Packing is so exhausting. Not to mention boring. How can I pack when right now, less than five minutes from my house, there are summer SALES going on?  Fourth of July sales? Markdowns of EPIC proportions?

But, then again, perhaps that’s how I got into this predicament in the first place . . .

With all that’s going on right now, it’s less than surprising that I haven’t had as much time to read as I usually do. On a typical week, I’ll plow through five or six books, easy.  But lately, I’m lucky to read a few pages before conking out in packing-induced exhaustion. And lately, to top everything else off, I’ve been cranky-in one of THOSE moods. You know, the one’s where everything you read leaves you with the resounding sound of “meh” in your head as you throw the book across the room-which is why I was so unbelievably excited to read three books in the past two weeks that really blew me away.

BOY TOY by Barry Lyga:  I’d first read about BOY TOY in the NY Times Book Review, and when I read that it was the story of a 12 year-old boy who has an affair with his seventh grade teacher, I immediately got interested-especially when the review went on to praise Lyga’s writing style as being extremely realistic and moving. And as Booklist put it “Whenever a book for young adults moves the bar sexually, it demands a closer look.” So I put BT on hold at the library and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Apparently it was popular, which made me even more excited to finally read it. And when I did, I wasn’t disappointed. The story is told through the eyes of Josh Mendel, who is now 18, and looking back over the events of the past 5 years, trying to deal with what has happened to him in therapy, and, perhaps more importantly, trying to move on with his life by being a “normal” teenager—one who goes on dates, etc. I won’t say too much about the plot, for fear of spoiling it for potential readers, but what I WILL say is that this is a beautiful, intense, and heartbreaking book that had me shocked and in tears in the last few chapters. I didn’t think I could like a book more, or be more affected by a read than THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, but trust me when I tell you that this book had me by the heart-and throat. I literally could not put the book down until I turned the last page. It’s that good. RUN, do not walk to your nearest bookstore and buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

THE LUXE SERIES: OK, I know what you’re thinking-and I was thinking it too before I read these books.  But it’s summer, and I wanted something light to read-and a little known fact about me is that I LOVE historical fiction. And the covers are really pretty!  (OK, I am a goon). So, to make a long story short, I wasn’t expecting a lot from these books-but I was pleasantly surprised. The first book in the series kind of reads like one-the writing isn’t that great, plus it’s trying way too hard to set up the sequel. So what does THE LUXE have going for it? The plot. It’s like THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS on crack-and in 1899! It was like watching a re-run of Melrose Place when you really should be studying algebra-you know it’s not good for you, but you can’t help yourself-especially if it’s an episode with scary, psychotic Kimberley!

But I digress.

By the end of the first book, I was dying to read RUMORS. Luckily for me, it had just come out, so I trotted right down to the bookstore and got a copy-and proceeded to stay up until 4 AM reading it cover-to-cover. I’ve heard a lot of whining and moaning about the ending of RUMORS, and without giving anything away, all I will say is that Elizabeth and Will totally annoyed me to no end with their goody-goody act, so I wasn’t exactly weeping tears of regret when I got to the last ten pages of the book. I think goody-goody characters are not only irritating, they are profoundly unrealistic. Who is that good all the time? Who?  Certainly not me. For instance, right now I am eating chocolate chip cookies and typing this when I really should be figuring out how I’m going to get my extensive shoe collection to California . . .

Needless to say, I am DYING to know what happens next in the series!  And Godbersen’s writing style really improved in RUMORS-it wasn’t as stiff, so I liked it better overall as a book. I have just pre-ordered ENVY on Amazon, and I suggest you do too.

Now, where did I put that packing tape . . .