Category Archives: Book Club Read

The Alchemy of Forever- Avery Williams
Book Club Read
February 16, 2012 posted by Nichole

The Alchemy of Forever- Avery Williams

After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world’s riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans by jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human’s life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she’s done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she’s inhabiting-and falling for the human boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she’s his again, and every moment she stays, she’s putting herself and the people she’s grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?
Seraphina Ames has walked the streets for over 600 years. At a young age she was turned into an Incarnate, a person who can stay young and live forever due to alchemy, at the hands of her master, Cyrus. For years, Seraphina has watched Cyrus corrupt the lives of innocent individuals, creating an Incarnate family for them to cherish forever. The catch? In order to become an Incarnate one has to switch bodies every so many years, instantly turning their previous host into ashes. Seraphina bears the heartache and guilt of many innocent lives, all of whom would have survived if not for her selfishness of wanting to stay alive. After years of the heart-wrenching guilt, Seraphina has decided that she wants freedom from Cryus. It is her one true wish to never kill another human being. In order to do this she must escape from Cryus, making herself and his precious alchemy recipe disappear forever. Seraphina Ames is ready to die.

While trying to escape from Cyrus and the rest of the Incarnates, Seraphina witnesses the death of a young girl, Kailey Morgan. In an attempt to save Kailey’s life, Seraphina accidentally inhabits her body, turning her previous body into ashes. Accepting her fate, Seraphina makes an effort to portray herself as the real Kailey, taking over her life completely to comfort her friends and family. Seraphina soon finds out, though, that this is not as easy as it sounds. She is faced with personal struggles and heartache, all the while trying to fit into a family that was never hers to begin with.

One thing I enjoyed about The Alchemy of Forever was how bold and unique the characters were. Everyone seemed to have their own individual personality, creating a realistic atmosphere. While reading the novel, I felt as if the characters were right in front of my face. I could picture them in my mind as if everything were really happening. When Seraphina was nervous or scared, I was jumping with nerves right along with her. When Cyrus was angry, I could see his face get red with fury and feel the tension rolling off of his shoulders. And when Nicole spat with envy at Seraphina, I witnessed the jealousy and hatred burning in her eyes. It was an intense experience witnessing the realistic qualities of the story, which made for an overall pleasant read.

My main problem with The Alchemy of Forever is how fast it moves. Chapters speed by every two or three pages, changing scenes almost immediately. While I did enjoy the overall plot, I found that it was rather frustrating having to move throughout the story so quickly. It was nice to have so many stopping places throughout the novel, but I felt that it took away from the story itself. Another thing I disliked was how quick Seraphina was to act like an actual teenager. As a woman who has survived for over 600 years, there should have been adult qualities already imbedded in her mind. Instead, she was quick to act like an actual sixteen-year-old girl. One might argue that she was simply pretending so no suspicion of her true identity would surface. However, her child-like qualities seemed to appear even when she was alone. I wish that Williams would have made it a little more difficult for Seraphina to adapt into a sixteen-year-old body, as it would have appeared more realistic.

While I appreciated the read of The Alchemy of Forever, I probably wouldn’t read it again. If you want to be able to put a book down at night, this would make a great read. If one wanted to be sucked into the pages for hour after hour, though, this wouldn’t be the book for them. The Alchemy of Forever was a cute, light read. Overall, though, it is a book that one would tend to forget about.


Pages: 256

Publication Date: January, 2012

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

Challenge: Debut Author

Rating: : ★★½☆☆


Teaser Quote: “-“Magic?”  I whisper. “Science,” he replies. I am astounded, and delighted.  “I don’t care what you call it,” I say.  “It’s still magic to me.”

Book Club Read
December 7, 2011 posted by Christina

Bloodlines – Richelle Mead

“When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.”


When the stunning conclusion to the Vampire Academy series was released late last year fans of the series were then hit with the realization that that. was. it. No more VA! Nooo! How? What about Adrian?

But wait! There was more to come. The spin-off series, Bloodlines was announced and fans let out a collective sigh of relief – even though it wouldn’t be from Rose’s perspective we wouldn’t be completely leaving the world of Moroi and dhampirs behind.

The series centres on the alchemist, Sydney, who was a relatively minor character in the VA series but steps into the forefront in Bloodlines. Along with Adrian, Jill and Eddie they’re faced with a whole new challenge – someone wants Jill dead. With her out of the way, Lissa would lose her crown and be ineligible for the throne. In order to keep her safe the guardians relocate her to Amberwood prep, a boarding school in California, with Sydney posing as her sister and Eddie as guardian. And Adrian? As always he has his own agenda.

Those who may not have read the Vampire Academy series could probably still read the series and find it enjoyable but would miss out on why certain issues are such a problem – such as who is Lissa? And why do we like her so much to want her to stay as Queen? That type of background knowledge can only be found through reading the VA series.

As expected, Richelle Mead’s writing completely sucks you into the story. The storyline in Bloodlines is definitely interesting, detailed and complex with so many twists and turns, it’s obvious how completely well thought out everything is. I was disappointed however to find some plot points a bit predictable, or rather, I figured it out before it all happened. A few things resolved themselves quite quickly but I have a feeling we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to complications for this series.

While reading it it’s obvious that Sydney is definitely not Rose. Though I still liked her, Sydney’s composure and logical thinking is a complete contrast to Rose which makes her a little less….fun to read. There’s definitely a spark in her though and her compassion and cleverness made her incredibly likeable. Finding out more about her back story was also great since you then understood her reasoning for her actions so much better.

Then there’s Jill – she’s young, she’s struggling to adjust to her new lifestyle and still coming to terms with having Lissa as a sister, who hasn’t been completely excited by having a new sibling. I didn’t really like Jill much but she might grow on me…maybe.

Adrian, ah Adrian! He was as always his charming self but it’s obvious he’s still hung up on Rose which at times was frustrating to see, plus he clearly has a bit of growing up to do. As a whole he completely added to the story so well (how could he not, it’s ADRIAN), his snark helped to lift the scenes that might’ve otherwise come across as a bit uneventful.

Eddie remained more in the background in this particular book but I’m really hoping to see more of him in the next one.

For those wondering, yes, Rose, Lissa and Dimitri do make cameo appearances – it was SO good to see them on the page again.

There wasn’t much in the way of a love plot in this book, though there was a lot of talk before it’s release that seemed to be pointing at something romantic for Adrian, but it doesn’t come up in the book.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Richelle Mead book without a completely huge OH EM GEE moment right at the very end which left me completely surprised and dyyyyying for the next installment.

I didn’t love it as much as Vampire Academy, but that doesn’t mean the series won’t improve or that this series isn’t worth starting – it definitely is.

Richelle Mead, make no mistake, I love you like a fat kid loves cake……but I’m giving this one a…a…….4!

Pages: 421
Publication Date: August 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “They’re waiting for you. Go on in.” Adrian leaned close to Keith’s ear and spoke in an ominous voice. “If.You.Dare.” He poked Keith’s shoulder and gave a “Muhahaha” kind of monster laugh.”

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
Book Club Read
April 8, 2010 posted by Katie

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies…

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden deep in the forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger…and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

Rose and Lissa are best friends; the kind that knows each other’s every thought. Well, Rose does. For she is linked to Lissa. They share a bond closer than that of two normal friends. It’s this bond that might have kept them alive for the last two years. That, and Lissa possess magical powers, even if she isn’t very good with them. But all that is about to change, on that one night when the guardians from St. Vladimir’s Academy are about to catch up with them. Lead by Russian guardian Dimitri Belikov, Rose has no chance, yet that doesn’t mean she gives up without a fight. Rose never gives up without a fight. Before they left the Academy, Rose was well known for her sarcastic tongue and tough personality. It had gotten her into trouble many times before.

Yet on her return to St. Vladimir’s, Rose finds that her quick temper is only one of the things she needs to watch. She’s placed on probation, meaning no social outings outside of normal class duties. She has extra training sessions with one Dimitri Belikov. Her freedom is gone, and she hast to start over, something that everyone will take a while to get used to.

But with these extra practice sessions that she originally dreaded, comes something Rose wasn’t expecting. For Dimitri Belikov isn’t what anyone suspects. Rumours frequently state that Dimitri is a god. A sexy badass Russian god who is more than likely the best guardian on campus. As Rose soon finds out, that reputation isn’t without reason. For Dimitri is relentless, constantly challenging Rose beyond her comfort zone, challenging her to find something more than herself. Yet Rose has something else she is struggling with. Against all her better judgment, she finds herself falling for her mentor. Something strictly forbidden in the Dhampir world.

First, Rose is a student, Dimitri her teacher. Second, that teacher is seven years older than her. But most importantly, everyone knows Dhampir’s don’t have relationships with other Dhampir’s. It would distract them from their job – protecting the Moroi at all costs. Lissa’s life could depend on Rose’s concentration. What Rose doesn’t know, is how soon her concentration is going to be tested.

Vampire Academy is the first novel in the series of the same name by author Richelle Mead. As her first foray into the world of Young Adult fiction, Mead has done so spectacularly. Her world is fresh and new. Vampires with routes in firmly established mythology, set in a contemporary society with characters that you wish you were friends with. You won’t find any sparkling vampires here. These vampires are living and real. They drink blood for survival from willing human donators. They enjoy a connection with the elements, each one giving of a different strand of magic that is infused in the spirit of each Moroi. Then there are the Dhampir’s – something not seen before yet equally thought up and developed. The social structure is defined, the places and locations real. There is a quality here that lends itself to every action having a reason and a thought behind it.

Add into that unreal characters. Rose is everything you could want in a female protagonist. Strong, independent and willing to fight for what she believes in, a streak which can sometimes get her into trouble. She is sarcastic, feisty and loyal, laying her life on the line for her best friend time and time again. Dimitri is another example. Strong and fearless, sexy and beautiful. He is the force that makes Roes realize just how serious her training needs to be. He is the one that finally gets through to Rose. Christian was a pleasant surprise to me. I liked his character and the way he cared for Lissa. He is someone that I hope to see more of in future novels. Finally, Lissa. This is the one I wasn’t completely sure about. She is Rose’s best friend, and for that, she keeps Rose sane. Yet, there were times where I saw a selfish streak from Lissa, the need for her to be taken care off. Lissa doesn’t really stand up for herself, though perhaps this is to do with partly how she was raised.

In all, a fantastic first book. This series I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys and is a fan of good urban adventure. A great read, and sure to get you hooked on the rest of the series!

Publication date: 2008

Pages: 332

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: “Wow.” I hadn’t thought Dimitri could be any cooler, but I was wrong. “ You beat up your dad? I mean, that’s really horrible…what happened? But, wow. You really are a god.”

He blinked. “What?”

“Uh, nothing.”

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
Book Club Read
March 18, 2010 posted by Katie

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek god.

I was just a normal guy, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. That’s when things really started going wrong. Now I spend my time fighting with swords, battling monsters with my friends and generally trying to stay alive.

This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I’ve stolen his lightning bolt – and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.

I first heard mention of the Percy Jackson books since watching the trailer for the recent adaption to screen, and as it is yaReads bookclub choice of the month, I decided to take a look and see what it is all about.

At first glances, Percy is a troubled kid. Constantly getting in trouble as school, unable to pay attention in classes because of his dyslexia, and his only true friend being the class outcast of Grover. With his best subject being Latin, taught by the slightly old Mr Brunner, Percy finds it tough to get a break. And when things start to seem slightly off on a recent school field trip to the museum, Percy starts to think that perhaps something isn’t right. For example, only he seems to remember their old maths teacher, and he seems to be the only one that Mr Brunner is really keen to get the ancient Greek and Roman myths right. Yet the vanishing maths teacher isn’t the only thing that seems to go wrong.

On a family holiday with his mum, things start to turn horrible. Being chased by a creature that shouldn’t exist, Percy must reach the sanctuary of a summer camp that even his mother doesn’t seem to know much about. When Percy arrives, he beings to discover exactly why he seems different.

For Percy is the son of a god. His is a half-blood, but just exactly who his father is, no one seems to know. At a summer camp that involves daily activities of sword fighting and learning Ancient Greek, Percy finally has a place where he belongs, a place with kids just like him. That is, until he attracts the attention of the one person you really shouldn’t disrupt.

Zeus thinks that Percy has stolen his lightning bolt – and demands that it must be returned before the summer solstice in ten days time. Accompanied by two friends, Percy begins the journey of a lifetime. One that could decide if he lives or dies. And with nearly every god and creature in the universe out to get you, locating one bolt of lightning is a lot harder than it looks.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is the first in a series of novels by Rick Riordan. I had high expectations of this novel, hearing a lot about it from friends and seeing great reviews. However, the biggest let of the novel was plot. To me, it didn’t move with any form of flowing pace, and lacked development. It was one action seen after the next. Just as you thought nothing more could happen to them, another obstacle was thrown in their way. I understand that it was a ‘quest’ novel, but I would have liked to see some more non-action development of plot – some working out of clues and a plan to get from A to B instead of running headlong at everything that came.

That being said, I did find the characters extremely enjoyable to read about. Highlights for me were both Annabeth and Grover. Both characters where strong and unique, helping Percy on his quest and helping him to grow as a person. In particular, I hope we see a lot more of Grover in future novels, he was a personal favourite.

If you’re a fan of action and mythology, that I can say that Percy Jackson will be something that you will enjoy.

Published date: 2005

Pages: 374

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: He pulled a pen from his coat pocket and handed it to me. It was an ordinary disposable ballpoint, black ink, removable cap. Probably cost thirty cents.

‘Gee,’ I said. ‘Thanks.’

‘Percy, that’s a gift from your father. I’ve kept it for years not knowing you were who I was waiting for. But the prophecy is clear to me now. You are the one.’

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Book Club Read
January 2, 2010 posted by Katie

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicentre of the middle of nowhere. At least, that’s what I thought.

Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Ethan has lived his whole live in Gatlin. He knows everything, what is expected of him, where he can go and his exact place in town. A place that Ethan desperately wants to break out off. Each day is the same. School, basketball practice, dinner, sleep. A routine that Ethan could repeat in his sleep, that is, if he got any sleep. Ethan has been plagued by dreams. Dreams so real that Ethan wakes up covered in dirt and water, dirt and water that can’t be explained away. Something is happening in Gatlin, and Ethan is at the centre.

Enter Lena. If being an outsider isn’t bad enough, Lena is the niece of Macon Ravenwood, commonly referred to as Old Man Ravenwood by the people of Gatlin, and living out at the old Ravenwood plantation, which superstitions has it is haunted. To top it all off, Lena isn’t what you would call ‘normal’ for Gatlin. For one, she has no interest in being a cheerleader, instead plays the viola, wears more black than the average person and sits at the front of the English class. To top it off, strange things seem to happen around Lena – windows exploding, thunderstorms appearing and changing room arrangements are just the beginning.

Ethan is drawn to Lena in a way that can’t be explained. Something about Lena reminds Ethan of the presences felt in his dreams. Suddenly, Lena becomes the centre of Ethan’s world. As everyone at Jackson High is doing everything they can to make Lena a nothing, Ethan is absorbing as much of her world as possible. Ethan is the only one who has noticed the sharpie-drawn number on her hand, and while his classmates are quick to blame Lena for the strange occurrences, Ethan tries to get Lena to open up and give her a chance to explain why they are happening. With Ethan not taking no for an answer, Lena eventually lowers her guard, slowly by slowly letting Ethan into her life.

And as more strange events occur, even Lena can’t deny that she feels the same connection that Ethan feels for her. Ethan is thrown headfirst into the world of the Casters and discovering an ancient connection to the past, along with Lena, they are pitted against the universe. As Lena’s 16th birthday draws closer, Ethan and Lena must discover the key that could change Lena’s future.

Beautiful Creatures is one of those books that don’t happen very often. Fresh and new, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl have woven an urban fantasy novel that gives the often over-done young adult romance genre something different. A love story told from the male perspective. Seeing the story and reading through Ethan’s perspective was something that I loved about this book. Too many romance books have the female character constantly fawning over the male lead. This didn’t occur, and it was the differences that made reading from Ethan’s point of view work. Ethan didn’t overtly say that he was in love with Lena, yet it was his attention to the small details surrounding Lena that allowed me as a reader to see the true depth of his love before Ethan would even admit it to himself. The material of the Caster’s was also something that I enjoyed immensely. Their whole world was this rich culture that was thought out and developed in fine detail, yet at all stages seemed plausible and read, especially the way that Lena and her family moved around the topic of their special abilities with people not of their family. Linked in with this was Ethan’s aunt Amma, a character that I fell in love with by the end of the novel. Along with the many members of Lena’s family and Ethan’s friends at school, there were many a variety of characters that made the world of Beautiful Creatures enriching and enjoyable to read about.

Beautiful Creatures is one fantasy world that I would like to visit.

Pages: 626

Publication date: Australia – 2010, USA – Dec. 2009

Rating:: ★★★★½

*Beautiful Creatures is also our Book Club read for the month of January.  Join the discussion here.

Book Club Read
July 21, 2009 posted by Nikki

Strange Angels – Lili St. Crow

Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)

Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her?

Dru’s world is very different to yours and mine. See, in her world there are many, many things that go bump in the night. Zombies, vampires and werewulfs are just the start of it. Dru’s dad is a professional monster fighter and has taught Dru how to take care of herself, but being the daughter of a demon hunter has its downsides. Dru has to be ready to pack up her entire life at a moments notice and hit the road. Life for Dru has been kind of lonely…

Then her dad comes home from some kind of demon killing mission one night all zombie-fied. Dru is no idiot, she knows that thing that looks like her dad isn’t really him, and she knows that unless she does something fast, she too could find herself six feet under. Without thinking twice, Dru slaughters her zombie-dad right in her very own living room.

More alone than ever, Dru decides that she can’t stay in her house for a minute longer, and takes off.

Meet Graves. He lives at the mall in some kind of backroom but that’s all we really learn about him. He’s hell bent on finishing high school with spectacular grades, but has that whole bad-boy allure about him. He’s completely mysterious and something tells me that we’re definitely going to learn more about him in the coming novels, but for now, all I can say is that I’m pretty certain he’s jonesing for Dru. Dru shacks up with him for a while (in the sleeping in the same room sense, not the romantic sense) and they develop and odd kind of friendship. Then they’re attacked by a stack of demon beaties and Dru realises that she’s not safe.

Enter Christophe. He’s a djampire and pisses Dru off instantly. He’s got information about her dad’s death – information which, he’s not readily giving up – and that makes Dru instantly suspicious of him. But he’s here to help, apparently, and Dru is faced with some pretty tough decisions. Does she let this half demon guy into her life for the sake of safety, or should she trust her instincts and run like hell – away from him, away from everything. It becomes pretty clear that Dru isn’t going to be able to help herself, but is Chris going to be the savior she’s looking for?

Dru is one of those tough-as-nails characters that has the potential to be a real girl power kind of role model for female teen readers. At the moment, though, I find her rock hard exterior a little frustrating. I wanted her to grieve the death of her father properly – I mean, she did slay his zombie butt, after all – and maybe she did, in her own rock hard way, but for me, she moved on from his death way too easily. Although I completely understand why she’s like this, I hate that she is so untrusting. I can forgive her for this, though, because she’s spent her whole life running from, and fighting big bad beasties. Can’t imagine you’d see too much humanity in anything like a demon, that’s for sure.

Strange Angels is all about the tension. From the first chapter right till the very end, each page is full of nail-biting tension. Unusually, though, I didn’t actually find myself compelled to keep reading. Strange Angels is full of unanswered questions, which frustrated me to no end. I can see, however, that having so many unanswered questions in the story is a bit of an aphrodisiac for some and will drive the kiddies wild.

The one thing I absolutely loved about this book was Lili St. Crow’s writing style. She manipulates the English language brilliantly and her imagery is outstanding. It was very easy to picture just what was happening in the story and my imagination came alive with all kinds of mental images. Even though I found many other aspects of this story frustrating, the fact that I loved Lili’s writing style so much made reading Strange Angels an enjoyable experience.

Rating: : ★★★½☆

Sloppy Firsts – Megan McCafferty
Book Club Read
June 21, 2009 posted by Nikki

Sloppy Firsts – Megan McCafferty

Today is the one-year anniversary of the first day of my last period.

I’m not exactly celebrating.

When I lied to my mom about getting my period, it was the easiest escape route at the time. I didn’t think much of it because I was sure that sooner or later, it would turn out to be true. So every twenty-eight days I take tampons out of the box under the sink and flush them down the toilet to make her think that I’m cycling as I should.

But I can’t tell her now that my ovaries aren’t back from vacation. She’ll not only freak out and ground me for lying, but she’ll make me go to the gyno as well. And the very thought of getting up in the stirrups and letting a total stranger go elbow deep and up to my uterus … Jesus Christ!

This is not a book about teen pregnancy. This is not a book that advocates or condemns teen pregnancy. This is a book about Jessica Darling. Jess is many things – a runner, a daughter, an academic, a sister, and a friend – but pregnant is certainly not one of them. No sir. In order to be pregnant one would have to engage in sexual intercourse first, and that would require actually snaking the attention of her high school crush – Paul Parlipiano. But even though they run on the same track team Paul doesn’t even know she exists. So pregnancy, my dear friends, is so far from the reason Jess’s period is MIA it’s not even funny.

The real explanation is far more boring, far less scandalous, far more Jessica. Jess, you see, is a runner. She’s on the track team and she trains a lot. She has trouble sleeping and she’s really skinny. Even after her grueling training sessions, when she can’t sleep in the middle of the night, Jess gets up and goes running, hoping that she’ll tire herself out so she can sleep. She runs and runs and runs and runs. Jess knows this is the reason she hasn’t got her period, and although she knows its bad to go for so long without menstruating, her running seems to be a bigger priority.

Then one night, while out running, Jess injures her ankle. She manages to drag herself home limping and crying and moaning in pain. Exit excessive running here. In fact, exit all running here. At least now her dad can’t bug her about her track meets anymore, not being able to actually participate and all. But what about the middle of the night? How is she going to get to sleep now?

Enter Marcus Flutie. He’s the resident bad boy, the one everyone loves to hate. Turns out that he and Jess have far more in common than she originally thought – not that she was thinking of him, no sir, someone like Jessica Darling would never be thinking of someone like Marcus Flutie – and talking to Marcus in the middle of the night seems to be the only way Jess can get herself to sleep. Jess learns many things about Marcus, but the most important of all is that Marcus is so not the person she thought he was. Jess realises that she’s falling for him, but brushes it aside because she knows that Marcus doesn’t date girls like her. Besides, he’s got a floozy girlfriend anyway. She sees them groping in the hallways all the time. Gross. But Jess is beautifully naïve and often doesn’t see what’s right in front of her. Will Marcus lead good, wholesome Jess down a path of disobedience and destruction, like everyone thinks he will? And honestly, how can she stand him anyway? No one gets it… no one at all.

Jessica’s voice is raw and fresh. Megan McCafferty captures what so many teens are thinking but do not say. Jessica Darling is so real that she could be me, or you, or the girl sitting next to you on the bus. I bought every single word that came out of her mouth. Her way of looking at things brings light and humour to even the saddest and darkest of situations, and makes for one hell of an entertaining read. You’ll laugh, you might cry, but you’ll certainly feel every pang, every stomach churn that good ol’ Jess goes through. As her name suggests, she’s every bit the teenage darling.

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I positively cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the next book in the series, Second Helpings.

P.S I think I’ve come down with a case of Flutie Fever. Watch out, I hear it’s very contagious.

Rating:: ★★★★★