I realize I've missed a week or so, so I'm probably also missing some books. (I read a lot; I also forget a lot of what I read, which is why I can happily re-read books I've already read. Of course, some books, I simply love and rereading them is like having a nice, satisfying gab session with an old friend.)
Lauren Barnholdt, Fake Me a Match. I thought this was a cute story--if not really substantive. In this book, 13-year-old Avery LaDuke has high hopes for her new step-sister (who's exactly her age), since her current BFF has been acting strange. When Avery gets put in charge of a school fundraiser--a matchmaking project--she knows just what to do: she'll fix the results so Blake gets matched with Sam, her current crush. Only, something goes wrong and Avery gets matched with Sam instead--and worse still, she discovers that he might not be the stuck-up jerk she's always thought he was. Instead, she might actually like him. I thought the writing here was fun--Barnholdt has a great MG voice, the characters were relatable, and the plot situations were familiar to anyone who lived through junior high.
Julie Cross, Tempest. I picked up this book because it's been getting a fair amount of buzz, but I wasn't in love with it. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is happy with his life, his girlfriend Holly, and his occasional time traveling. But when strangers who seem to know about his secret burst in and shoot Holly, Jackson gets flung back to his past (as a 17-year-old) and can't seem to get out. He has to figure out what's going on with his life and try to save Holly. I thought the premise here was cool, and Cross certainly has spent a lot of time envisioning the rules for time travel so that they are logical. But I never really connected with the characters. Jackson and Holly are supposed to have this cosmic romance (like a younger version of the Time Traveler's Wife), but neither of them ever seemed distinct enough for me to really love them. Of course, this could just be personal preference in characters--aside from that, the writing was fast-paced and the plot was intriguing.
Julianne Donaldson, Edenbrooke. This is the first book for Shadow Mountain's new line of "clean" romances, and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I'm a long-time fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer--and this is the first regency I've read in years to come close to Heyer's deftness with language and characterization of regency era life (of course, Austen remains pretty inimitable). In this story, Marianne Daventry has been living with her grandmother in Bath ever since her mother's death, and she's tired of the confined city life. She longs for the country life that she loves--which is why she jumps at the chance to spend a couple of weeks in the country with her twin sister at the estate of a woman who was their mother's childhood friend. However, the visit doesn't unfold quite as Marianne expected--she finds herself falling for someone she's not entirely sure she can trust and she struggles with feeling unusually estranged from her sister. I thought the romance here was delightful and would recommend this to anyone who likes a good romance, particularly Regency era romances.
Frances O'Rourke Dowell, Ten Miles Past Normal. I've been lucky in that I've been reading a slew of books recently that I enjoyed. This was also charming, the story of Janie Gorman, who lives on a small farm just outside the city limits. Farm life seemed cool in elementary school, but now that she's in high school, she's been labelled "Skunk Girl" for unthinkingly climbing on the school bus without checking to see that she'd removed the goat poop from her shoes. She spends her lunch periods hiding in the library and the rest of her life longing for something better, something bigger. An invitation to "Jam Band" leads her to meet a boy named Monster, who teaches her to play the bass--and a school assignment with her best friend leads to some discoveries about the civil rights history of her town and the role some of the older residents played in the Freedom Schools. The story really seems to be about Janie's coming of age, of coming into her own and realizing that it's okay not to be normal--especially when you can be something bigger.