Monday, July 9, 2012

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

"Isn't this great, munchkin?" Dad said, stepping up beside Sylvia and putting his arm around her. "You kids will have a wonderful time together. Won't this be a fun summer?"

Fun? Fun was not the word I would have chosen. Unbearable, awkward, torturous... Anything but fun.

This was a nightmare.

I was supposed to be at the condo, wasting time on the beach, just Dad and me, figuring out college and my life and spending time together. Instead, I was in a new house with new people - including a future stepbrother who'd seen me naked.

"Well." I sighed, facing my father again. "It will definitely be interesting. That's for sure."

 Whitley Johnson's parents divorced when she was 12 and for the past six years Whitley has been living with her mother, forced to listen to the near-constant diatribe against her father. Whitley doesn't understand why her mom can't see she's bashing the same traits Whitely inherited from her dad and hates the fact that her mom never sees how miserable she is. Her friends have all abandoned or betrayed her, her brother is too busy with his wife and their new daughter to call Whitley, and she only gets to see her father in the summer months. The only way Whitley can find to feel happy, even for a moment, is to go out and party. Hard. She gets a reputation for being easy--a highly exaggerated reputation--and drowns her sorrows in tequila as often as possible. She's looking forward to spending the summer at her father's condo and wasting the days tanning, drinking margarita's, and barbequing, but that dream is blown apart when her father takes her instead to small-town suburbia where he has a surprise for her: he's getting married.

That's not even the worst part. The new fiance comes with two kids Nathan and Bailey, and Nathan just happens to be Whitley's most recent one night stand. Suddenly her dream summer is starting to look like a nightmare that Whitley doesn't know how to escape. Her usual outlets aren't readily available and as the daughter of Greg Johnson, one of the area's most popular newscasters, Whitley's mistakes are suddenly worthy of noting... and posting on the internet. Despite her best efforts, Whitley is befriended by Harrison, a local boy, and no matter how hard she tries she can't seem to hate her new stepsister Bailey. As she digs herself deeper and deeper into her own hell, will her new family and friend be able to pull her out before she destroys the first good that's happened to her in years?

Kody Keplinger has done it again. I loved this book. You may not like Whitley, but she is a relatable and sympathetic character I couldn't help hoping would see the light. I may not agree with how she dealt with her issues with her parents, but the dynamics of those relationships struck a serious chord with me--I've seen the damage those kinds of parents can do. Also, I loved getting to know Harrison (who showed up in The DUFF) better and seeing that Wesley and Bianca (also from The DUFF) were still together and baffling outsiders with the apparent oddity of their relationship. The book comes with a PG-13 warning.

Sera's Rating: 9/10

Friday, July 6, 2012

Snapshot by Angie Stanton

Adam finally spoke. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize. My family isn't like that at all."

"No one ever does see that side of the story. They just think about the genius. Well, there's a steep price paid by the people around him."

"It sucks he treated you that way, but stop confusing me with him. I'm not like that."

"Maybe not, but give it time."

Martini Hunter (who much prefers going by Marti) is the daughter of legendary guitarist Steven Hunter. It's a relationship she hates owning up to because spending the first ten years of her life with him and her drug-addict mother has scarred her. Luckily, her maternal grandmother took her in and Marti was able to live the next six years in relative normalcy. She hates rock music and loves photography, so Marti's grandma sends her to an exclusive arts camp with a respected photography program. The last thing she expects is to run into the one thing she can't stand: a rock star.

Adam Jamieson is thrilled to have two weeks to pretend that he's a normal sixteen-year-old and not the lead guitarist of a world class rock band. He meets a pretty girl and everything is looking great, but the illusion only lasts three days before Marti figures him out. Now she's pissed because she thinks he's just like her wastrel father and it doesn't seem like anything he can do will get him back in her good graces. But once he's set his sights on something, Adam doesn't give up easily and Marti is an enticing mystery he's determined to solve.

Just after they finally get past their initial differences, Marti gets news that her grandmother passed away. With this devastating loss comes the realization that she has to move back to LA to live with her father. Adam has to return to his family on the East Coast but worries there's a lot Marti isn't telling him about her life and has to face the criticisms of his older brother and his parents who still insist on treating him like a child. Will he break free in time to help Marti escape the life she never wanted?

I love the Jamieson family. This is the second book centering on the rock star brothers who were first introduced in Rock and a Hard Place. Marti is the perfect combination of scars and strength and she gives Adam's rock star ego a run for his money. The only thing that really bothered me is that it seemed as though Adam's older brother Garrett didn't learn a thing from everything that happened in Rock and a Hard Place. That's kind of disappointing because most of the trouble in that book was his fault and in this one he's up to the same tricks. Mrs. Jamieson seems to have taken her lessons to heart, though, and I really enjoyed getting to know Adam better. The book was a quick read (literally. I read it in a single afternoon cause once I started I just kept going!) and is great for anyone looking for a contemporary YA book. For those considering the book for younger readers, there's more cursing, drugs, and sex in this book than in Angie's previous ones, but not an excessive amount. Just be aware you may have to explain to the younger ones what a bong is if you give them the story. :)

Honestly, I can't wait to see what Angie comes up with for Garrett. At least, I'm sincerely hoping she has someone up her sleeve to calm down that cranky boy. He needs it more than either of his brothers did, I think! Whenever it comes out (if it comes out... please write it, Angie!), I will definitely be reading it.

Sera's rating: 9/10