Kody Keplinger

the duffThis is an entertaining YA novel about a smart and cynical teenager called Bianca who is told one day that she's the DUFF of her friend group - the designated ugly fat friend.
The book follows her as she internalizes that idea and as she falls off from the beaten path of her regular life into chaos before finding a new kind of equilibrium.
I read this because I'm very intrigued by the film they've made of it. I'm going to go see it at some point.
As for the book it's enjoyable but it's also slightly uneven. The main characters are strongly written but the plot isn't hugely compelling. The biggest point in it's favour - I find myself wanting to see what the characters are up to after the story ends.

Rating: B



The Madness Underneath

Maureen Johnson

the madness underneathThe second book in the Shades of London series is just as charming and as much fun as The Name of the Star.
Following on shortly after the events of the first book we find Rory coming to terms with the trauma of those events and the consequences of her new abilities.
It's all really hard to talk about without spoiling, but I'll tell you one thing - this book has a doozy of an ending.

Rating: B+



Search For Senna

K.A. Applegate

search for sennaThe first of 12 Everworld books this an extremely slight YA alternate world fantasy.
It's doing a lot of expositional heavy lifting as the first book in a series but it's still a speedy read. It consists of a bunch of teenagers scraping through one adventure after another but there's no emotional heft to explain why these kids are putting themselves in the way of all this danger beyond misguided heroic notions.
I'm probably going to read at least one more of this series to give it a chance but it will have to be a serious improvement to keep me reading beyond that.

Rating: B-




Rainbow Rowell


Rating: A



Shrinking Violet

Danielle Joseph

shrinking violet

Rating: B-



Along For The Ride

Sarah Dessen

along for the rideAuden is a brilliant student living with her academic mother in the wake of her parent's divorce. She's feeling out of sorts and lonely with her brother traveling abroad and all her friendships broken after a move to an elite prep school. She surprises herself by accepting an invitation to stay over summer with her dad, her stepmother and newborn half-sister in their seaside town.
The summer changes Auden's life and opens her up to a whole new world of possibilities.
This YA novel is solidly written and succeeded in making me want to smack Auden's parents heads together. Which means that it connected with me more than a lot of this teen/romance stuff I've been reading of late.
I would certainly recommend this if you're into contemporary YA family relationship stories.

Rating: B



Will Work For Prom Dress

Aimee Ferris

will work for prom dressQuigley Johnson and her best friend Anne have a plan. They're going to work every spare hour they have working to earn money for a truly great prom dress.
This particular YA novel is a predictable mix of teen romance and angst but it does have a dash of celebrity secrets to enliven one of the plots.
It's a quick read and while there's nothing awful about it the book just has nothing to recommend it.
If it sounds like your kind of thing and you have plenty of spare time to waste then go for it.

Rating: C



Keeping The Moon

Sarah Dessen

keeping the moonWhen Nicole "Colie" Sparks is farmed out to live with her Aunt in small town America for the summer by her weight loss guru mother she's forced to look at life from a new perspective.
This YA novel is well written and features a very likeable lead character. Even though it's a pretty entertaining read the story just seems stop rather than have an actual ending. I found this pretty annoying.
Still this does mean that it's ripe for a follow-up with so many plot threads and character acts left hanging at the end.

Rating: B



Just Listen

Sarah Dessen

just listenThis is an enjoyable YA book. Annabel used to be the 'girl who had everything' - at least on the surface - popular at school, a model away from it. Then things go wrong and she finds herself isolated at school, sick of being a model and feeling trapped by her complicated family life. She finds escape with another school misfit called Owen, whose anger management issues and vehement interest in music brings out something new in her.
This book is about learning to be honest with yourself and facing your problems. Though it's handled with a light touch by the author there is a lot of dark stuff going on beneath the surface.
This was an entertaining, speedy, read. It just wasn't original, exciting or eloquent enough to be rated any higher.
Defintely recommended to fans of female led, contemporary young adult fiction. Whether it appeals to anyone else is another matter.

Rating: B



The Name Of The Star

Maureen Johnson

The Name of the StarThis is a thoroughly enjoyable YA supernatural thriller.
Rory, an American girl, has moved to London from Louisiana for school while her parents teach in Bristol.
On the day of her arrival a murder very much in the style of Jack the Ripper is discovered.
Just as she begins to make friends and starts to adjust to living in a strange country she finds herself caught up the murderous events.
This book is really entertaining and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel even though I've heard rumours that it has the worst cliffhanger in the world!

Rating: B+