Tag Archives: first love

Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) – Sarah Mlynowski
Book Reviews
October 15, 2011 posted by Kiona

Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) – Sarah Mlynowski

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that he carefully constructed world just might be falling apart…one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.

Ten Things We Did looks and sounds like a light-hearted, fun, easy read. It promises to appeal to fans of authors like Susane Colasanti, Sarah Dessen, and Lauren Myracle. But Sarah Mlynowski doesn’t quite deliver on that promise. Ten Things is a light, fun read, but the plot and characters are unrealistic. When April’s dad decides to move to Cleveland, she opts to move in with her friend Vi rather than uproot herself. Only thing is, April’s dad would freak if he found out Vi’s mom won’t be staying with them, leaving the two teenagers alone in Vi’s spacious home. To placate April’s dad, the girls provide him with a fake email address and Vi dutifully responds to all his emails as if she were her mom.

As if this scenario weren’t crazy enough, the ridiculous situations the girls continuously get themselves into drive this story over the top. While it tries to be charming and endearing, it’s hard to forget just how improbable all of it is. As a main character, April is kind of forgettable. Vi is much more interesting, but she’s also the proponent of this whole scheme and I kind of hold that against her. My favorite characters are brothers Dean and Hudson, but they don’t appear enough to really satisfy me.

I will say Ten Things explores some real teen issues and deals with them in a relatable, believable way, specifically issues surrounding relationships, sex, infidelity, conforming, and friendship. Some conversations are reminiscent of conversations every girl has had with or can imagining have with a friend. And if you can suspend your disbelief for a little while, the craziness that is April’s life can even be funny. You’ll wistfully imagine your own life parent- and rule-free for a few minutes. Then you’ll get to the end and realize you don’t want to have the conversation that April’s about to have with her dad.

If you’re looking for a light, quick read, then Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) will probably satisfy you. If you want something with a little more substance, I’d suggest you keep looking.

Pages: 354
Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Challenge: N/A
Rating : ★★½☆☆

Teaser Quote: “I wasn’t sure how to process this information. Vi had lied to everyone. Vi—strong, confident Vi—had felt the need to pretend to be something she wasn’t. Why did she care so much what other people thought?”

Book Reviews
February 21, 2011 posted by Christina

Other Words For Love – Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

“Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York – and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn’t think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship.

Ari’s  family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. No real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.”


For this review, we’re doing things a little differently. Never has a debut novel been so sought after by almost every member of the yaReads team and had us all in a flutter, so it seems fitting that we bring you a joint review of Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s Other Words For Love.

Ivy: Holy Guacamole!  Two days after, I’m still thinking about Other Words for Love.  It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  For an urban fantasy lover like me, it’s a breath of fresh air to have read something as real and believable as this book.  It could be your sister, friend, or neighbor’s story.

This is an easy 5 stars.  Outstanding debut Ms. Rosenthal!

Rating: : ★★★★★

Kiona: Other Words for Love is an emotional roller-coaster. Throughout the book, my opinion of Ariadne was ever-changing. In the beginning, I like her. She’s the relatable underdog: a pretty girl often overlooked due to the beauty of her best friend. She’s a hard worker, gets good grades, and is passionate about art. She also pretty much takes care of her out-of-control older sister’s son, which is very altruistic of her considering her sister, Evelyn, treats her like crap. I admire Ari’s inner-strength and ability to look past others’ flaws.

But then she meets Blake and he essentially eclipses the sun of Ari’s world. To me, Blake is a decent enough guy, but I was annoyed by his constant use of the word, “ nice” Anytime she considers doing something he doesn’t like, he makes her feel guilty by saying, “That wouldn’t be nice”. And while Ari is blinded by love, it’s easy to see how much control Blake’s father has over Blake’s life, which just shows how weak Blake is. I understand that that’s the point Rosenthal is trying to convey – that Blake isn’t actually the picture-perfect guy Ari thinks he is. Love interests don’t have to be likable for a story to be likable. But I was disappointed in Ari – who is such a smart girl – for not being able to recognize the signs of Blake’s imperfection and weakness. So halfway through the book, I began liking her less and less.

The middle is also when the story stops being relatable. I lost all respect for Ari when she dropped her friends and focused her entire world around Blake. I know first loves can be all-consuming, but Ari doesn’t have a particularly thriving social life. Yet she still drops Summer, a friend since childhood, and Leigh, a girl who could really use a friend, and she never really repairs these friendships. When Blake dumps her, Ari stops caring about school, her appearance, her nephews, SATs, and even considers suicide. While I’ll admit this happens to some girls, I definitely don’t feel like that it’s the norm. I had to put this book down several times so I could collect my emotions. While I admire that the author can illicit such emotions, I think she did so at the cost of alienating the reader from the protagonist. The ending makes me feel slightly better, but it’s not enough to redeem Ariadne in my eyes.

That being said, I think the writing is superb and Rosenthal clearly knows New York City very well. The descriptions of the city sound genuine and really ground Other Words for Love in the specific time period Rosenthal chose (1980s). I really enjoyed the detailed glimpse in the city and Rosenthal’s exploration of a dysfunctional family is very intriguing. I definitely enjoyed the psychological aspects of this novel, but while I think this is an interesting take on first love, I don’t think it’s a story many girls will be able to relate to.

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Christina:  There are so many different ways to promote books these days. The one way that I completely trust is when everyone (with nothing to gain for doing so) is buzzing about a book as enthusiastically as they were for Other Words For Love. So I’m with Ivy on this one – I completely loved it.

The characters in this book were incredible. Each character was unique, so well fleshed out and had these realistic personalities with both virtues and flaws. Some characters you’ll completely hate and others you’ll grow to understand. Some of them were even quite cruel at times like Evelyn and Summer, who would say certain things that would make me go – GAAAAAASPPPPPPPPPPP! OHHHHH, she did not just say that!  I wanted to dive into the pages, step beside Ari and serve them a swift kick to head for how they acted. This just goes to show how invested you become in these characters and Ari’s story.

What really hit me was just how authentic I felt the emotions expressed in the book were. Everything Ari felt, from her elation at being with Blake, to her eventual heartbreak just felt so so real. Her feelings in the end might seem dramatic but if you’ve ever been heartbroken that’s exactly what it’s like – the colors fade to gray, food seems pointless and you’re stuck in a rut you don’t bother to get out of. I loved how the way Ari felt meant that she perceived the statue of Saint Anne differently – it was very clever and so true.

The part that particular struck me the most me while Ari’s world was falling apart, she felt like all the hard work she’d done up to that point, not just in school but in life, had counted for nothing because of a slip up right at the finish line. For me that was the part where I raised my hand and said “Oh I have been there” Which I think a lot of girls will feel the same about quite a few sections of the book.

If there was a flaw in this book I can only say it was the blurb – it gives too much away. I’ve omitted the last paragraph of the blurb in this review because it basically gives half the story away and I was able to have a good guess about what would happen in the rest. BUT! Despite that, the story’s execution was superb and even though I’d already been told what would happen it didn’t make it any less interesting or heartbreaking or amazing, which proves just how great this book is.

Ari’s life in New York in the 1980s was completely fascinating to read about, in particular to note what has changed and what is still the same. Even after finishing it I couldn’t stop thinking about this story for days after. I was so proud of Ari and what she managed to accomplish in the end, her experiences made her so much stronger. Sign me up for every thing Lorraine Zago Rosenthal writes next. Highly, highly, highly, recommend it.

Rating: : ★★★★★

Two out of the three of us loved it, the other, not quite feeling it. Which side of the fence are you on?

Pages: 354
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Challenge: Historical Fiction/Debut Author
Average Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “I was looking out the window, checking for neighbors and hoping to give them something to see, when I felt Blake’s hand on my chin. I looked at him, at his straight nose and his perfectly carved lips, and felt his finger move back and forth on my skin. Don’t ask me, I thought. Just do it.”

The Unwritten Rule – Elizabeth Scott
Book Reviews
September 11, 2010 posted by Nikki

The Unwritten Rule – Elizabeth Scott

He’s looking at me like – well, like he wants to look at me. Like he likes what he sees, and he’s smiling and his eyes are so blue, even in the faint glow of the porch light they shine, and I nod dumbly, blindly, then grope for the door handle, telling myself to look away and not yet able to do it.

“Sarah,” he says, softly, almost hesitantly, and my heart slam bangs, beating hard, and this is what it’s like to want someone you can’t have. To want someone you shouldn’t even be looking at.

Sarah is in quite the predicament. She’s riding that rollercoaster of first love – the pain, the exhilaration, the ups and downs. Only problem is, she’s doing it solo – unrequited style. She’s been in love with Ryan since the eighth grade, but now he’s dating her emotionally stunted best friend, Brianna, and Sarah is forced to stumble through each day, the pain of seeing them together pulling at her insides with every second that passes.

Brianna has crappy parents who clearly don’t want her around, and Ryan seems to make Brianna feel like she matters to someone. At least, that’s how it looks to Sarah, which is why Sarah is so hell bent on keeping her feelings completely and totally to herself. How could she take Ryan away from Brianna, when she has so little to start with?

Besides, there’s no way Sarah could compete with the sassy, sexiness that is Brianna – and Brianna makes sure Sarah knows it every single day. Brianna might have crappy parents, but that’s no excuse for the way she treats those around her. Its obvious to the reader that Ryan is nothing more than a self-esteem booster for Brianna, and while she might actually love Sarah, she doesn’t know how to show it. I couldn’t help but wonder if Brianna only kept Sarah around to make herself feel better.

But then, it seems, Ryan sees through Brianna’s dance, and decides to take his affections elsewhere – right into the garden of Sarah! Turns out, Ryan has kind of been in love with Sarah for ages, but got all caught up in the whirlwind that is Brianna and time just got away. But he wont stand for that anymore. He wants Sarah, and nothing – nothing – will stand in his way.

Not even Brianna, when she walks in on Ryan and Sarah lying curled up together in Sarah’s bed.

The Unwritten Rule is interesting exploration through the rules of dating and friendship. Were Ryan and Sarah wrong to pursue each other when Brianna was still so clearly caught in the middle. Did they consider her feelings enough? With the way Brianna was treating the pair of them, should they have considered her feelings at all? When is it okay to break the rules of friendship for matters of the heart? These are all questions I asked myself repeatedly throughout this story.

Sarah and Ryan are both likable characters, but I found Brianna to be shallow, callous and difficult to read. She’s clearly got some emotional issues, but the way she treats those around her makes my stomach squirm. You’d think, with her home life being so terrible and all, she’d value the love of her friends a little more.

The Unwritten Rule is a home run for Elizabeth Scott. This is a great, contemporary chick lit read!

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 210

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “I wasn’t happy with you? Brianna says. “Almost eight weeks, Ryan. And then you go and – ” she glares at me. “Is this my anniversary present? You could have at least picked someone decent. Someone I’d believe you want and not just who you used to make yourself feel better.”

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han
Book Reviews
April 15, 2010 posted by Katie

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

Everything that happened this past summer, and every summer before it, has all led up to this. To now.

Every year Isabel spends a perfect summer at her family friends’ house. There’s the swimming pool at night, the private stretch of sandy beach…and the two boys. Unavailable, aloof Conrad – who she’s been in love with forever – and friendly, relaxed Jeremiah, the only one who’s every really paid her any attention.

But this year something is different. They seem to have noticed her for the first time. It’s going to be an amazing summer – and one she’ll never forget…

Isabel has been called Belly for as long as she can remember. As long as she has been coming to the beach house for summer. For her mum and Susannah are best friends, and Susannah owns the beach house. The perfect big house, the pool out the back, the beach, the sun, the surf. During the school year, Belly distracts herself thinking about summer and the beach house. It’s the place that she knows exactly what is going to happen, even if it’s not exactly what she wants to happen.

For also at the beach house is Steve, her annoying older brother, Conrad and Jeremiah, Susannah’s two sons. As much as Belly wishes they would include her, she knows it will never happen, not truly included. The only girl in a group of guys? Yea as if they would include her in their adventures. It’s something Belly has gotten used to. Just like she is used to Susannah cooking the same meal on the first night, her midnight swims and being left alone a nights.

Yet this summer, something seems different. For one, the reaction of Conrad and Jeremiah when she gets out of the car is completely not what she expected. Susannah doesn’t come to meet them, running out the door like always. The mood is different, almost as if everyone else knows something that they aren’t telling her.

Then comes the moment that she has been longing for. An invite to the bonfire that she was always considered too young to go to. It is there that she meets Cam. Cam Cameron. Someone different to everyone else. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs and can speak Latin and French, even if technically Latin is a dead language. Finally Belly meets someone that she just might be able to forget Conrad with. Someone who tells her that she is beautiful, someone who actually wants her around.

Yet as the summer draws closer to a close, will this really be enough to Belly to move on? Will she be willing to hurt those she loves, to gain what she needs most?

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the second novel from young adult writer Jenny Han, and the first of her novels that I have read. This story captured me, in a way that reminded me of my first love and my teenage years. Growing up and just waiting for the one guy to notice you. It’s a story that I think a lot of people can relate to, both young and old, either going through it currently or remembering what it was like. The Summer I Turned Pretty captures that journey and adventure to find who you are and to be seen as something different to what everyone thinks you are. Reminding me, in style, of Sarah Dessen’s novel Along For The Ride, the characters in Han’s novel are instantly ones you can recognise and connect with. The characters and their actions is what invests you in this novel. You want the best for them; you want everything to end up okay for them.

Belly is a gem. I find reflections of myself in her actions, and things that I wish I had done when I was her age. She has the strength to keep going, to try for something better because she believes the best in everyone. Her relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah and how she deals with her feelings is something that I think we all go through. The confusion of not knowing exactly what someone else thinks of you. Cam was also another breath of fresh air. I wish we had got to see even more of Cam then what was included. Susannah was the mother you wished you had, and Belly’s own mother is that of a typical mother – doing more that her daughter realised at the time.

An element that I really loved was the chance to go back in Belly’s past and see memories from previous summers, and how they created the person that Belly is now.

A beautifully light reading and feel-good novel.

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 288

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: When it started to get cold, I rubbed my arms, and Cam took off his hoodie and gave it to me. Which, was sort of my dream come true – getting cold and having a guy actually give you his hoodie instead of gloating over how mart he’d been to bring one.