Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Of all the Sarah Dessen’s books I’ve read or listened to – this has to be my favourite – hmmm…  did I say that the last time too?  If I did – I can’t help it – her stories are just so great!  This one is a story about Auden, an 18-yr old who decides on a whim really, to spend her last summer before going to College with her father, step-mom and new baby.  Up until now, she’s been with her Mom, a hard-working faculty member, who spent more time with her Graduate students than her daughter.  So Auden learned to love solitude and the night.  Over the summer though, she learns what it’s really like to go “Along for the Ride.”

Awesome story – so real and relatable.  Every character brought something to the story, there were no “extras”, without any one of them you’d lose a very important part of the story.  There are a number of lessons anyone could take away from this story – I won’t give anything away – but even as a Mom, it was a truly refreshing story.

I would highly recommend this novel to both teens and their parents – and I have to say that I think it would be a great story for the guys to read – there’s a lot to learn there 🙂

Favourite quote:

Alrighty – I listened to this book – and truth be told – I think there are just TOO many quotes that I would love to capture in this novel.  So to make it easy – just read the book!!!

Dessen, Sarah. (2009).  Along for the ride [sound recording CD]. New York : Penguin Audio

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Cracked up to be by Courtney Summers

Oh man…  what a story – written in such a way that keeps you wondering – has you hating Parker in one moment and then feeling for her the next… What did Parker Fadley do that was so bad?  How can someone who has it all in high school, cheerleading captain, the perfect and popular boyfriend – lose it all?  Amazing book!  Had me in tears by the end – but oh so worth it!!!

The story did a great job of showing us how one teenage girl chose to deal with all the pressures she’s managed to self-impose.  Turns out that you cannot be perfect, you have to learn to be human, make mistakes and learn to deal with them.  Parker chose a very lonely route but also learned that it was a much harder route than she expected –  her friends were often around to pick her up – against her will.

I really enjoyed this book, as I did Courtney Summers’  Some Girls Are. Courtney has a great talent for grabbing the reader from the get-go and never allowing us to let go until the very end.  I would highly recommend this book!

Here’s the Book trailer 🙂

Favourite quote:

“I want unity and disparity here, people!”    p. 36

Summers, Courtney. (2009). Cracked up to be.  New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Author website:

Poll results and a New Poll (Feb 21)

Results from last week’s Poll:

We had vampires – what do you think is the next craze?

  • Angels   28%
  • Faeries   44%
  • Zombies   0%
  • Other   28%

Well – the answer was not unanimous by any means – the top rank selection was Faeries, followed by a tie for Angels and Other.  I’m not convinced we’ll see the Zombie craze really come into being – despite rumours and what my kid tells me.  Faeries, on the other hand – they seem to be popping up everywhere and doing really well too.  Melissa Marr and her series with Aislinn and Seth;  Canadian author Lesley Livingston with Wondrous Strange and Darklight;  Holly Black and her Modern Faery Tales, and the list goes on.  The “Other” suggestions included supernatural suspense and hyper-realism.

This week’s Poll – let’s turn our attention now to the voice that the book is written in.  I’ve been thinking about why I like certain books more than others – and I think it’s because I prefer books written in the first person.  Written in a way where I can share the character’s experiences as they pass.  I also listen to a number of audio books on my commutes – and have learned that YES those books written in the first person are just easier to listen to.   Which do you prefer?  Those written in the first person, in the third person – as an observer, or those written with a narrator – or do you prefer more than one voice?

I’ll report results next Sunday night…  Have a great week!

Gone by Lisa McMann

Heart-wrenching yet beautiful!  Lisa McMann has done a wonderful job pulling together all the strings of Janie’s life and creating a great resolution in the final book of the Wake trilogy.  After closing their last assignment, Janie and Cabel try to enjoy some time away on vacation, but news that Janie’s mom is in trouble, brings them back to deal with Janie’s home life.  Janie learns about her true heritage and struggles with it, while dealing with Cabe’s hidden feelings.  It’s a fantastic conclusion to this trilogy, I thought for sure, it was going one way, when all out of the sudden… it changed!

This final book deals with yet another difficult topic, alcohol addiction and its effects on home life.  Again, I feel very strongly that Lisa McMann allows the reader to live through this very difficult topic through Janie, opening the reader’s minds to what can happen.  Fantastic!

Favourite quote:

“Finds out that Morton’s Fork is not literally a fork.  It’s a term for a dilemma of sorts.  In summary: a forced choice between two equally suck-ass things.”    p. 118-119

” ‘ Why the heck does he live all the way out here in freaking… freaking Saskatchewan?’ Carrie says, giggling.
Janie doesn’t bother to point out that the nearest Canadian province is actually Ontario. Nor that they were going south.”         p. 128

McMann, Lisa.  (2010).  Gone. Toronto, ON:  Simon Pulse.

Author website:

Fade by Lisa McMann

Love it!  The continuing story of Janie and Cabel’s adventures into the Dream World!  Janie’s learning the tricks of her trade from Miss Stubin, through her case files and meeting her in her dreams.  Her new assignment takes her into the dangerous world of sexual predation at her school, where she tries to put into place her new skills.  Unfortunately, this tough assignment begins to test her relationship with Cabel.  Can he handle it?  What has she done to alienate him?

This was another book that was tough for me to put down – the story got better as I continued to read.  It even pulled my daughter in – and that’s always a good thing – when you can find a book that peaks your child’s interest enough to read it.  My daughter has now borrowed the third book in this trilogy from a friend and we have it in the house until Tuesday – so I’m off to read Gone next.  I’m really looking forward to see how Cabel deals with Janie’s future – and how Janie will continue to use her skills while working for the Captain.  Needless to say my daughter has already finished the book and it’s been tough – preventing her from spilling any beans….

Along with the fun of relationships and learning about Janie’s new skills – we cannot forget that this book does cover a very ugly topic – sexual predation and date-rape drugs.  I found that it dealt with this topic in a frank and open way.  It allowed the reader to become more aware of this issue and to live through it with Janie as their guide.  Personally I think it was very well done and I would definitely recommend this book!

Favourite quote:

“Once you are blind, each dream journey you take will bring you back into the light, and you will see things in the dreams as if you are seeing them in life.”    p. 217

McMann, Lisa.  (2010).  Fade.  New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

Author website:

Common Sense Media Reviews

If you’re following the YALSA blog you would have seen the entry regarding the Common Sense Media reviews and Sarah Dessen’s Along for the Ride.  If you link out to Sarah Dessen’s blog – she is asking for people’s opinions on the Common Sense ratings listed for her new book.  Reading over some of the comments already posted – I think the general consensus is the ratings do not take the entire book/story into account – they’ve really torn it apart to highlight any perceived negative or questionable content.

As a parent – I read through the ratings available on the Barnes&Noble website – and I think I may have avoided this book based on the information provided.  But….  I’m listening to this book right now – and it’s awesome!  Yes – there is swearing and stuff – but the way the review is written – many aspects of the book are taken out of context!

I am struggling at the moment with this system.  Here is the link to the definition of their ratings – – when you think about it – are they really any different from what we do with our blogs?  We each pick our own reviewing system and share our thoughts with the world – so why am I struggling?  Maybe because these ratings are in a place where the general public sees, respects and believes.  Should I worry?  Should the authors be concerned?  Or do we continue to believe that readers will form their own opinion despite these types of ratings out there?

I really don’t know – as a parent who doesn’t read the material available to my kids – I may just rely on these ratings – but as a parent who reads as much if not more than my girls – I won’t let them sway my decision to purchase or not.

Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Beautiful – absolutely beautiful!  Tense – very tense – sitting on the edge of my seat – tense!  This book was excellent – the Touch series keeps getting better – there was NO way anyone could have figured out the end – just NO way!  Lauria Stolarz has a wonderful way of weaving the mystery, intrigue with teen love and danger…  Fantastic!

Ben returns to school after spending four months away from Camelia and the school where no one gave him a chance after hearing about the death of his past girlfriend.  Cammie starts receiving photos and notes again, but Matt was sent away and there’s a restraining order against him – this can’t be happening again.  Ben is being elusive and the new kid at Knead, Adam is showing great interest in Camelia.  Who’s stalking Cammie this time? Why is Ben avoiding her and then not?  Will she go out with Adam?  At home, things are tense, with her Aunt Alexia wanting to talk to her Mom.  Cam’s sculpting skills are budding and scary all at the same time!  Awesome – just awesome story!

This was a great book to take you away but keep you grounded at the same time – teen angst – relationships – parental issues were all included – a great sense of what small town life could be like – everyone knowing everyone!  But it was not written in isolation of the issues that today’s teen may have to deal with – well done!

If you’ve read Deadly Little Secret – you NEED to read the sequel, Deadly Little Lies.  The next installment in the Touch series, called Deadly Little Game is set to be released in the Fall of 2010 – looking forward to this one 🙂 Just a quick note about these novels – both Deadly Little Secret and Deadly Little Lies were listed as Reluctant Reader Quick Pick Nominee, 2010 by the American Library Association.

Favourite quote:

“My life sucks goat cheese. …  Well, let’s hope that goat cheese is organic,”   p.274

Stolarz, Laurie Faria.  (2009).  Deadly Little Lies.  New York, NY:  Hyperion Books.

Author website: