This sequel to Michele Jaffe‘s fabulous Bad Kitty is pretty fantastic in its own right. In this book, Jasmine Callihan’s father has moved himself, Jas, and Jas’s stepmother, Sherri!, to Venice. Yes, to Italy. The day before the start of her senior year. With twenty-four hours’ notice. To research soap. He is, quite possibly, Jas thinks, insane. Or maybe evil. After all, what kind of a father would move his daughter half a world away from her friends, her new boyfriend, and her chances at graduating high school and continuing on to an institution of higher education? (Side note: I’d be thrilled to move to Italy today, right now, but I have been told that I am not representative of teenage girls–or people-in general).

Of course, moving to another continent doesn’t mean Jas will stay out of trouble like her father is hoping. Trouble can find her anywhere. In this case, it begins when her only friend in Venice is murdered, and more people may be in danger. This is a mystery that Jas can’t solve on her own, so I was thrilled to see more of some of the awesome cast of characters from Bad Kitty. Tom, Polly, Roxy, Alyson, and Veronique (excuse me–Sapphyre and Tiger’s*Eye) were as hilarious and quirky as ever.

Kitty Kitty is kind of like a mixture between Ally Carter, Meg Cabot, and Louise Rennison, but with Michele Jaffe’s own fabulously unique twist (and in many ways, dare I say it, better than these authors) on it all! It’s a smart, fresh, laugh-out-loud hilarious mystery full of cool gadgets and inventions a Gallagher girl would be proud of (reference to Ally Carter’s books, for those who haven’t read them). It’s as hilarious and insane as Louise Rennison only with a much better, suspenseful, and more recognizable plot. Jas is a heroine worthy of a Meg Cabot book. Put it all together, and you have near-perfection!

My only disappointment in this book was that we did not see more of Venice, but that’s more of a personal taste than anything else. I love great settings, and Venice was a barely-there backdrop; only the canals were of any importance, and any body of water would have worked there. Jasmine’s Italian classes and hilarious troubles with the language were the only indication that they were even in Italy!

Kitty Kitty is a funny, intelligent, and adventurous mystery that readers will love. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, and this one isn’t even out until July! I guess for now I’ll have to be content rereading Bad Kitty, but I think this book may be even better than that one (unbelievable, right?). Kitty Kitty is a madcap adventure in the streets and canals of Venice involving friendship, mystery, fashion, pigeons, crime fighting, language barriers, suspense, romance, water wings, six-foot-tall squirrels, locked-door murder mysteries, tweezer tasers, cats, gondoliers, and much more hilariousness that will have readers laughing hysterically as they turn pages as quickly as their fingers will allow.


I personally find it more difficult to get into books written in third-person. It’s a perfectly valid choice of writing style, of course, and many of my favorite books are written from a third-person POV, like, oh, I don’t know, the Harry Potter series! Tamora Pierce usually writes in the third-person, too, and so does Melissa Marr. So, obviously, it can turn out awesome. But for me, it’s harder to get grabbed from the first page, harder to get completely into the story to the point where I don’t want to answer the phone or eat or anything! It has to be done very well to capture my attention immediately. Also because it’s a little more difficult to get to know the characters, because you’re not inside the main character’s head all the time. I guess it’s just less personal or something. And while I realize that is entirely a personal bias and that neither first nor third person point of view is intrinsically better than the other, it sometimes affects my opinions on books that I read.

And with that in mind, The Juliet Club, written in the third-person (with lots of head-hopping, which was handled with minimal confusion, thankfully–with six main characters, that had to be a little difficult!) did not fully grab my attention. I enjoyed it all the way through, but I wasn’t racing to the next page. I didn’t feel close to the characters. I kept reading, hoping I’d get drawn into the story more, but sadly, no.

The Juliet Club is about six teenagers spending a month in Verona, Italy, the city where Shakespeare’s famous Romeo and Juliet takes place. The three Americans are winners of an essay contest whose prize is to study at the Shakespeare Seminar, and the Italians are there for various reasons.

Kate, Tom, and Lucy have flown halfway around the world (not together, as they are from different parts of the country) and are excited for a summer in Italy! Kate’s father is a noted Shakespeare scholar teaching at the seminar, and they’re all staying in a villa owned by his chief rival, Francesca Marchese. Kate is suffering from a broken heart after a bitter breakup, and, as she is a very practical and sensible person, thinks that means love is not worthwhile. Her two best friends, however, think her heart will be thawed with the promise of a summer romance in Italy! Tom is not much of a scholar–his main interest is soccer (er, football, now that they are in Italy!). Lucy is a charming, bubbly Southern beauty who is absolutely swept away by the fact that she is in Italy!

Benno, Giacomo, and Silvia all live in Verona. The three teens come from different backgrounds, and are studying at the seminar for different reasons, and with entirely different attitudes about it. Benno is short, cheerful, and a hard worker who is always having to dash off to run an errand for whoever pays him. His best friend, Giacomo, is the handsome type all the girls fall for, but he never really cares about any of the girls always flocking to him. He flirts, has fun, breaks their hearts, and moves on. He is less than thrilled about having to study Shakespeare all summer, but his mother insists. Silvia is an angry beauty, lashing out at the world for various reasons that will later be revealed.

The six of them are thrown together for a summer of studying Shakespeare by acting it out and answering letters for the Juliet Club. Apparently, people all over the world write the fictional character for advice in romantic matters, and they are supposed to answer these letters. The study of romance is not limited to text and letters, however; there are some romantic sparks flying around in reality, too! And, of course, with that comes romantic mishaps and misunderstandings and all sorts of things that don’t go exactly as they’re meant to.

While this sounds like a lot of fun, and it is, I do think that perhaps Suzanne Harper has taken on too much with this novel. There are six main characters, but I don’t really think we get to know any of them. Kate is in the spotlight more than the rest, but still not very much. Because Harper has to divide the story between all six of them, their motivations and personalities, everything that makes a character seem real, is just explained rather than really shown–she takes the easy way out. As a reader, I didn’t feel close to any of the characters, and didn’t feel like I knew them well. They were not well-developed.

There’s some potential in this story, certainly. I do love books with fun settings, so a summer in Italy is perfect! However, this would have been a much better book if the author had focused on one of the couples, rather than all six characters, and let the reader really get to know them, switching viewpoints. This is making me wish for what might have been! With some changes, this could have been a great book rather than a mediocre one. Especially if the ending had been less tidy. Real life is rarely tidy.

The Juliet Club is enjoyable, but it could have been so much better. You might be better off checking this one out from the library rather than spending money on the hardcover, if you are so inclined to read it. It will be released in June.

I loved Tara Altebrando’s first YA novel, The Pursuit of Happiness. It was really amazing, so I’m pleased to be able to say that What Happens Here is far from disappointing! It’s an impressive, unputdownable, really marvelous book.

Chloe, the narrator, is going on a fantastic vacation to Europe with her family. Travelling has always been a dream that she and her best friend, Lindsay, shared, so she’s disappointed that Lindsay won’t be coming along. She and Lindsay have been best friends their entire lives. Their mothers were best friends, too–the families even moved from North Carolina to Las Vegas together before the girls started high school! This will be one of very, very few experiences that Chloe and Lindsay will not share. But, still–two weeks in Europe! Chloe is understandably excited (though her older sister is less so–for Zoe, it means spending time away from her boyfriend, Johnny, and Zoe’s not really that into travelling anyway).

And the vacation is amazing, though marred by the fact that she and Lindsay fought right before Chloe left, at the top of a half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. Chloe sees sights she’s only dreamed about, sights that before were only pictures plastered on her bedroom walls. All Lindsay gets is post cards. Chloe doesn’t know what Lindsay’s up to all this time, as her father has confiscated her phone and they’re not allowed to use email on the trip.

Luckily, she’s met someone outside of her immediate family to talk to: Danny, a cute, funny guy who also lives in Vegas. They see the sights of Europe together, and Danny wants to be together when they get home, though Chloe can’t help but wonder if there’s someone else she’d rather have with her–Lindsay’s brother, Noah. Of course, she’d never do that to Lindsay, who subtly let them both know she didn’t want Chloe and Noah hanging out, years ago.

There’s some serious use of foreshadowing here. Chloe is having such an awesome time, and saying this is how things are supposed to go in her life, the reader just knows some tragedy is about to strike. And they’re right. Tragedy strikes.

I loved this book for so many reasons. The settings! Much of this book is set in Las Vegas and the rest of it is set in various exciting locations around Europe. I loved reading about these places. I’m always one for books that involve traveling or just exciting settings; I plan to travel all around the world someday. Backpacking through Europe is one of my dreams, just like Chloe. I could especially relate to her about that, and loved that whole aspect of this story!

All of the characters are fantastic. Chloe in particular is such a real, three-dimensional character; Tara Altebrando really understands people. Their relationships are so real, too. What Happens Here deals with all different types of relationships: friends, family, romance. And all are done so well!

It’s a very well-written book, too. Tara Altebrando is a talented writer, and she does a great job with Chloe’s voice. This is quite an engrossing story; I couldn’t stop reading, once I picked it up (luckily that was on a Saturday afternoon where I had nothing else to do!). I read it in one sitting.

What Happens Here is an honest, powerful, moving book about love, loss, friendship, holding on to (and figuring out) your dreams, and growing up. It’s about putting the pieces back together, too, after a tragedy; things can never be like they used to be. I adored this book, out in May, and strongly suggest you go get copy as soon as it’s available!