Kate’s life is pretty miserable. Her best friend has dumped her. Her father quit his job to sell infomercial vitamins in the mall. Her family, as a result, is having some serious money troubles that can only be resolved by her grandmother coming to stay. Of course, Grandma being around just makes everything more tense and more stressful. Kate is also lusting after a boy who has done nothing but torment her since they met in ninth grade. Will also has a bit of a reputation around school for hooking up with every girl he sees. Kate likes Will, but she doesn’t want to, and when he starts to act like he might be interested, she certainly doesn’t want to be just another name on the long, long list of girls that Will has been with…does she?

I loved Elizabeth Scott‘s other two books, bloom and Stealing Heaven, but Perfect You just might be my favorite! It’s a close call as to which is the best, but Perfect You is in no way disappointing, and in many ways awesome. Kate is an awesome main character, but I loved all of the characters, and the complicated relationships they had with each other. Perfect You is a fresh, funny, and honest story that is everything readers will expect from this talented writer, and more! Honestly, I can’t recommend highly enough this fantastic story about family, romance, friendship, love, life, and growing up.

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Violet by Design is Melissa Walker‘s second book about small-town-girl-turned-supermodel Violet Greenfield, and it’s just as great as Violet on the Runway. In this book, Violet has decided to return to the modeling business and she’s off to work the Sao Paolo runways. That’s right–Brazil! Violet is on her way to becoming an international star.

Of course, there was a reason she left it behind before. Modeling certainly has its ups and downs. Sure, she gets to travel to exotic places–but she also gets called “la gordita” (little fat girl) for not being afraid to gain five pounds and be normal-girl-skinny instead of anorexic-looking.  She’s in the tabloids, and anything she says can and will be used against her. Is the life of an international supermodel really worth leaving all of her friends and family at home behind to deal with so much pressure and superficiality?

On top of all of that, she’s got the typical teenage girl worries about her future, her romantic prospects, her friends, staying true to herself, and, like any recent high school graduate, balancing new with old. What’s a girl to do?

Yes, this is a book about modeling. But, as with Melissa Walker’s debut novel, it’s about so much more than that! It’s about life and friends and family and romance and knowing who you are and blindly feeling your way through an uncertain future the way we all do at some point.

As you can probably guess, I was pretty disgusted with the way already-super-skinny  Violet was always being pressured to lose five pounds, but that doesn’t detract from this book because Melissa Walker knows what she’s talking about when she writes about the fashion industry, and I do believe this is true-to-life. It’s not the book that horrifies me; it’s the truth of it, of the fashion industry, of that horrible negative body image that so many girls get from it. It’s relatively minor here–five pounds. But many girls are dozens or hundreds of pounds above the “ideal” weight in the fashion industry, and there’s nothing wrong with those girls. There is, however, something wrong with the fashion industry.

PSA over for the moment. Violet by Design  is an honest, funny, thoughtful, and intelligent book about one girl’s struggle to figure out who she is and stay true to herself despite the temptations to be someone else (like international superstardom and money and free stuff and exotic travel in this case, but there can be so many things that threaten us in that way).  I love Melissa Walker’s characters, and she is quite a talented writer. I can’t wait for the third book in the series, Violet in Private.

Before I read this book, I already knew that Deb Caletti was amazing, but The Fortunes of Indigo Skye showed me just how brilliant and talented this author really is!

Indigo Skye is a waitress, and she loves her job. She loves forming personal relationships with the people who come regularly to Carrera’s (a group known as the Irregulars). She loves when she manages every table and order perfectly, like it was a dance someone choreographed. She loves her boyfriend, Trevor, and her family (her mom, her little sister, Bex, and her twin brother, Severin).  She’s about to graduate from high school, and she lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington. Her life is great, and she’s happy just the way it is.

And then, it changes. A new guy comes into Carrera’s, a guy who seems to have a lot of money. He rides a Vespa, and becomes known as Vespa Guy. He orders “just coffee,” and becomes something of a mystery to the Irregulars, who like to speculate on who he is. One day, Indigo sees a package of cigarettes in his jacket pocket, which really sets her off. She yells at him about killing himself, then talks to him about his life. Not that remarkable, really–except then, he leaves an envelope for her at the diner. It’s a mystery that she’s sure will be disappointing when she finally opens the envelope.

Disappointing? Think again: he’s left her a two-and-a-half million dollar tip.

That seems great at first, but money changes people. Indigo has been warned of it, but she doesn’t believe she will be changed by her sudden fortune. She was fortunate enough already. Once she gets over the shock, having that money is pretty great–or is it?

This book is seriously amazing. Deb Caletti is such a fantastic writer, and her characters! They’re just so real and awesome. All I can do with regard to this book is gush! The characters, and the relationships between them, are just so marvelous and honest and real and fascinating. The story, too, is very interesting, but there’s a lot more to this book than a rags-to-riches or money-doesn’t-buy-happiness story. There are real, big, fundamental truths here about life and humanity and love and family and so much more. All I can say is, read this book!

Mayra Lazara Dole‘s wonderful first novel is a very necessary addition to the somewhat limited selection of LBGTQ literature out there (and what there is seems to be more about gay boys than anything). Necessary, because it represents a subset of the population that perhaps doesn’t have much literature to directly relate to. Laura, the main character, is a Latina (Cuban, specifically) lesbian living in Miami, but enjoyment of this great book is not limited to those that fit that profile, not by a long shot! I’m a straight white girl in North Carolina, and I really liked it.

Laura’s life is seriously changed when she is caught reading a love letter in class. That would be embarrassing for anyone, sure, but seeing as Laura’s love letter is from a girl, and Laura goes to a conservative Catholic high school, she’s more than embarrassed–she’s expelled from school and kicked out of the house by her mother.  Being a tortillera in Cuban Miami is completely unacceptable, and Laura’s mother won’t let her back–won’t let her even see her beloved little brother–until she is convinced that her daughter has turned straight. Laura can’t tell her it doesn’t work that way.  Laura’s life is further devastated when her first love, Marlena, is shipped off to Puerto Rico–to marry a guy.

Luckily, Laura is far from alone. She has her little brother, when he manages to call despite their mother’s forbidding they have contact. She’s got her dog, and for those who aren’t dog people out there–that means a lot. She’s got great friends, especially her best friend, Soli, and Soli’s mom, who take her in when she has nowhere else to go.  Now, if only she can come to terms with who she is, help her mother to accept her,  and find her place in the world, things might just be okay.

Down to the Bone is a funny, bold, and poignant novel  readers will quite enjoy. I loved the great characters, and the setting of Miami! I’ve never been to Miami, but reading these books set there (this and Total Constant  Order, most recently) really makes me want to go! Also the fact that I am freezing here makes the weather there sound like heaven…

I loved this fresh, engaging, and honest book about love of all kinds, friendship, heartbreak, family, and life in general.  Down to the Bone is a promising debut novel, and I look forward to Mayra Lazara Dole’s future writing.

I really need to remember to actually save my work. I had a complete review of You Know Where To Find Me last night, but I lost it when my computer crashed. Grr. Very annoying. So here is my re-written review:

Before picking up this book, I already knew that Rachel Cohn was an amazing, brilliant, and very talented author. You Know Where To Find Me, is, however, not much like her other books (it’s much more serious and depressing, but not in a bad way), so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was seriously impressed with how wonderfully she pulled it off. You Know Where To Find Me is by no means a light read. At the end of the first chapter, one of the main characters, Laura, commits suicide. Laura and Miles were biological cousins, but they grew up more like sisters in a wealthy part of Washington, DC. They were very different, though, superficially; Laura was thin and pretty and popular and smart and rich (Miles is, in her opinion, none of these things). She had tons of friends and an acceptance to Georgetown (Miles is a year behind in school, and has only one friend). But Laura had at least one vice–she and Miles used to get high together in their old treehouse.

Now, Miles’s whole world is falling apart, and she’s spiralling dangerously downward. She is fat and ugly and alone and, after Laura dies, all she wants to do is get high. Apparently, Laura’s pill popping and then suicide didn’t deter Miles in the least.

Miles isn’t really as alone as she thinks, though. She’s got her best friend, Jamal, and his family, Laura’s father, Jim, her often-absent father, Buddy, and maybe even an old friend of Laura’s. She’s got lots of people to count on, if only she can realize it.

I adored this book. It is wonderfully written, powerfully moving and emotional story. It’s full of interesting, well-drawn characters. Miles in particular is a great character and a fantastic narrator. Her voice and character are fresh and distinctive and honest and real.   I quite enjoyed the DC setting of this book, too. This is an engaging novel that fans of Rachel Cohn’s previous books will love because even though it’s different, it’s just as wonderful as the others! Anyone who hasn’t read her previous books will soon become a fan after reading this novel.

You Know Where To Find Me is a book about loss and grief and suicide and depression and drug abuse and family and love and friendship and life (and DC statehood, which is a very interesting political issue I’d never actually thought much about). Yes, by definition, there’s a lot of sadness in a book that starts with suicide, but, ultimately, it felt like a hopeful book to me.

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!

This book applies to the Triple Eight Challenge (since I’ve changed my categories).

HOW THEY MET, AND OTHER STORIES is an amazing collection of stories about love by brilliant author David Levithan. Each of these stories is fantastic in its own way, but they’re all so different! Some of them are more my kind of story than others, but even in those that were not my very favorites, I could recognise awesomeness. Every one created such great characters, and was so memorable. I felt like I wanted to read an entire novel about the characters in each story. That’s my only complaint; there wasn’t enough! I’ll talk now about a few stories I really loved.

Starbucks Boy is a really fun story about a boy who is hired for a babysitting job. His charge likes to go to Starbucks (he assumes that this must be normal for a child from New York City; after all, she’s got to be more sophisticated than kids where he’s from), and there he sees the Starbucks boy. According to Gabriel, every Starbucks has one, and he’s always out of reach. Or is he? I really just adored this story, the first in the book.  This is one of the ones in particular that I wanted a whole novel out of. Seriously, David, make this one into a novel!

The Escalator, A Love Story is a lovely story about a typical high school couple. It’s just so honest and candid and wonderful. That’s all I have to say on the matter. I’ll leave you wondering. Go buy the book and read it. It comes out January 8.

The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes is another fantastic story. It’s about a couple who meet on an airplane, as the title suggests. Totally wonderful and totally random…Right? Coincidences leading up to love is a big theme in quite a few of these stories, exemplified by the last one in this collection, Intersection (which is short, thought-provoking, and amazing).

Princes also really blew me away. It is another one that feels like it could be a novel, but, as they all are, it’s also completely wonderful on its own, without any more added to it. The characters and their relationships are amazing here.

I could probably gush about each and every story in the collection, even those that weren’t quite my cup of tea like  A Romantic Inclination. Even if short stories are not necessarily your thing (they aren’t really mine), I would strongly suggest you read this book about love, in so many of its different wonderful forms. Just as love is varied, these stories are all so incredibly different; what they have in common, though, is that they are spellbinding, simply brilliant, just wonderful.