Stephanie Kuehnert’s debut novel, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, is a painfully honest, raw, heart-wrenching story about a mother who is running from guilt and a daughter who just wants to bring her home.

Emily Black has grown up without a mother. Her mother, Louisa, left Emily and her father, Michael, when Emily was an infant. Her father has always told her that Louisa left to follow the music, to find the next great thing. He raised Emily on music. They listened to records and he taught her to play the guitar, and when she got to be old enough, Emily and her best friend Regan, spent every night they could at a local club where they heard great music (and did other things that her father would have stopped if he’d known about them).

When she got older, Emily figured the only way to bring Louisa home, if she were following the music, was to be the next great thing. And so Emily and her band, She Laughs, stop being spectators and start actually playing the music, hoping all the while that it will bring her mother back to her, not knowing the reasons Louisa left are far deeper and more complicated than what she’s been told.

 I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is a brilliant first novel about music and life and love and family and friendship and growing up. It follows both women–Emily and Louisa–as they both try to deal with their separation, with never having known each other. Both stories are told from a distance, Emily’s in first-person and Louisa’s in third. It feels kind of like both stories are being told after the fact, being looked back on from some indeterminate later point.

This is an unputdownable book. I really could not stop reading! It’s so real and emotional and it really just blew me away. In I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, Stephanie Kuehnert creates wonderful, believable characters, and gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the punk rock scene as Emily is living it. This is at times a hard book to read because Stephanie Kuehnert is able to make readers really feel the book, and there are some real, serious, painful things happening.

Stephanie Kuehnert is an unbelievably talented writer. Her debut is a smart, touching, intense and emotional novel that readers will absolutely love. It will be released in July, at which point I suggest you get your copy immediately. It’s certainly a new favorite of mine!

Princess Mia is the ninth in Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series. I have to admit, I haven’t read them all. I’ve read all Meg’s other YA books, but after the first couple of Princess Diaries books (which I did enjoy), the titles and covers were too similar and I couldn’t keep track of them and remember which ones I’d read, so I kind of just gave up. I still don’t know which ones I’ve read. Maybe I have read them all. I don’t think I’ve read the one where Mia runs for class president, though. Hmm. I’m really not entirely sure. I know the basic timeline of events, though, and am familiar with the characters, and that’s all that’s really necessary to reading this book (although it would have helped to have read the eighth before–they are so connected that I went ahead and read it anyway after finishing this one!).

In Princess Mia, Mia is struggling with the loss of her boyfriend, Michael. (He didn’t die; she broke up with him over something kind of stupid and then he moved to Japan to make a robotic surgery thingy to save people). She might have been able to function through that, except that then she immediately lost her best friend, Lilly, because Lilly thought she kissed her recent ex-boyfriend, J.P. (which, Mia did, kind of, but only accidentally, and they’re just friends). Now, she doesn’t have either of the Moscovitzes, her boyfriend or her best friend, and that’s just too much for a girl to handle! Add that to the fact that she’s expected to give a speech to two thousand of the world’s most elite businesswomen, and, yeah, she’s a little stressed. What’s a princess to do?

I really enjoyed this book. I literally laughed out loud at some parts; Mia’s distinctive voice just makes everything so hilarious, even if she didn’t get into so many mishaps. It’s certainly not all light-hearted fun, though; Mia’s dealing with some serious sadness in this book. Meg Cabot shows herself in this book to be very good at creating great characters, and she really does, after nine books (plus those weird little half-books or whatever they’re called that come in between some of the main books) about them, know this cast of characters very well (and so does the reader).

I think I may very well go back and read the rest of the series in order; it really is that good. This book is highly recommended! It has restored my faith in Meg Cabot (a couple of her recent books were a little disappointing to me, but maybe just not my kind of books; they weren’t necessarily bad).

Robin Benway’s debut novel, Audrey, Wait!, completely blew me away! It’s about what happens to a teenage girl living a pretty typical life when her ex-boyfriend’s band suddenly shoots to worldwide fame, and his song about her–titled Audrey, Wait–is suddenly playing on radio stations around the world, and rising to the top of the charts. Suddenly, Audrey is famous. She definitely did not ask for fame; all she did was break up with her rather self-centered musician boyfriend. Now, however, she has to deal with the paparazzi and reporters who twist her words and her phone is ringing off the hook, and, well, she’s rather understandably overwhelmed.

Her best friend, Victoria, wants to take advantage of all this fame by getting free stuff and maybe getting Audrey a reality show, but all Audrey wants to do is go back to her normal life, to being able to go out in public without getting mobbed by screaming fans. Her fans–how is it that a girl who has never done anything fan-worthy can’t go out in the street anymore? And there are videos of her on the internet!

She’s also got a potential love interest in James, her co-worker at the Scooper Dooper. He’s kind of quiet and shy, but Victoria insists they’d be good together–that is, if he’ll actually talk to her about something other than work, and if they can handle the fact that if they go out, they’ll be all over the tabloids!

Audrey, Wait! is about sudden fame, yeah, but being about life in the spotlight isn’t really how I thought of this book. Mostly, it’s about a girl trying to hold onto her sanity in a crazy world! Despite her celebrity status, Audrey is a very relatable character, with a distinct, funny voice. This book was blurbed by Rachel Cohn, and her blurb–calling it “Awesomely funny, fresh, and true”–is right on! Also, Rachel Cohn fans will love this book.

Even the background characters are fantastic. Victoria and Jonah were so awesome and interesting and cool that I kind of wished there was a book about them, too! Three-dimensional background characters almost take over the story at times, but Audrey is too fantastic for that to happen. The writing, the characters, everything in this book is just perfect. I seriously can’t gush about it’s fabulousness enough! Nothing I say seems to really express how much I adore this book. Robin Benway is a brilliant writer. Audrey, Wait! is an unputdownable book about music, love, friendship, and life from an author to watch. It comes out in April, and when it does, I strongly suggest you get in your car, turn on your favorite music as loud as it can go, and get to your nearest bookstore as fast as you can!