The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Summary: Petite and young-looking, seventeen-year-old Sarah has been best friends with the glamorous and seductive Brianna forever, but when she starts liking Brianna's boyfriend, their friendship becomes precarious.
The Unwritten Rule is the second book that I’ve ready by Elizabeth Scott, the first being Living Dead Girl. Before delving into this particular book, having read two books by Scott, I’ve realized that she is able to write about sometimes difficult subjects to deal with, such as child abuse/kidnapping and being in love with your best friend’s boyfriend, that not many other teen authors are willing to write about. I like this quality of Scott because these issues should be addressed since so many teens either hear about them in their lives or deal with the issues themselves.
Now, onto The Unwritten Rule…I chose this book because the premise, a girl liking her best friend’s boyfriend, is one I have yet to experience in any teen fiction I have read. From the very beginning of this book, it is clear to readers that Sarah does not just like Brianna’s boyfriend, but has really strong feelings for him. Sarah’s struggle to try and get over Brianna’s boyfriend and just let them be happy in their relationship will have readers emotionally connecting with Sarah because there is not just a cut and dry solution to the problem. As much as Sarah wants to forget about Brianna’s boyfriend, she just can’t. Readers will feel Sarah’s many emotions including happiness, sadness, excitement, guilt, and more.
Although the premise of this book sparked my interest and I liked the way Scott writes about Sarah’s feelings, at times the plot was kind of slow and I felt like it just wasn’t going anywhere. I found myself talking to the book saying, “Just get on with it already!” Nonetheless, I still wanted to know what happened at the end. Aside from Sarah’s story, I was impressed with the way Scott describes Brianna and how with very little description, Scott is able to allow readers to see how manipulative and mean Brianna is towards Sarah, even though she is “just trying to be nice”. This touches on another tough issue that many teens experience, verbal abuse from friends. Although teens may think verbal abuse is always hateful and apparent, that is not always the case, such as in Brianna and Sarah’s relationship with one another.
Overall, I had high expectations of The Unwritten Rule from both the premise and from how much I enjoyed Living Dead Girl, but I just wasn’t fully impressed. Although the plot was slow and uneventful at points, I would still recommend it to teen girls looking for a different kind of romance book.
I “liked” this book and would give it 3 out of 5 stars.

***If you liked this book, you might like one of these…***
Something like Fate by Susan Colasanti
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald


Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser

Summary: On the way to visit her father in New York City, fifteen-year-old Victoria fins an apparently abused child in the train’s bathroom and soon finds herself branded a kidnapper and on the run while trying to fulfill her promise to protect the boy at all costs.

Jump the Cracks is one of those books that have readers on a number of different levels while on a journey with the main character. Readers are first introduced to Victoria while learning about the emotions that flood through her when dealing with her parents’ divorce. Initially readers may assume that this story is just going to be about Victoria’s feelings, but the plot quickly begins to turn as Victoria decides to take a little boy who has been abandoned. Rather than including a straight forward plot, Jump the Cracks allows readers to feel Victoria’s personal emotions while being on a roller coaster type journey wondering just what the consequences will be for Victoria.

Victoria’s dilemma on whether or not to take the abandoned little boy with her instantly makes me think of one of those reality television shows, such as “What Would You Do?” that consists of viewers watching whether or not outsiders will take action against an emotionally charged dilemma given. Will the innocent bystander help or will they just sit back and watch, not showing any concern?

Although certain plot points are a little hard to believe, including just how far Victoria is able to escape with the little boy without getting caught, readers will enjoy being able to experience Victoria’s journey of not only healing emotionally, but trying to connect the little boy with where he needs to go. Filled with criminal action, ransom, suspense, and more, this is one book that readers will want to finish.

I “liked” this book and would give it 3 out of 5 stars.

***If you like this book, you might like one of these…***

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt


Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Summary: Isolated from friends who believe the worst because she has not been truthful with them, sixteen-year-old Annabel finds an ally in classmate Owen, whose honesty and passion for music help her to face and share what really happened at the end-of-the-year party that changed her life.

As I’m going down the list of books I’ve been reviewing lately, it seems like I keep saying something along the lines of the author being really popular with teens and that “this is the first book I’ve read by him/her”. So why break tradition?

Just Listen is the first book I have read by the widely popular author Sarah Dessen. For the longest time I just couldn’t get myself to read any of her books because I assumed they would all be the stereotypical chick lit books filled with lots of romance. However, I did not find my opinion to be true, at least not with Just Listen.

I liked Just Listen because it felt so real and the story line had a number of different levels. Rather than telling the reader exactly what happened, when, and to whom, readers are on a sort of quest to find this information as the plot develops. The tough friendship choices Annabel faces, including her best friend controlling her and the pain from many quickly dissolved friendships, will rein true for many teen girls that are also facing friendship issues, whether it’s making new friends or losing them. As I turned the pages of Just Listen, I kept thinking to myself, “This is true, this sort of thing happened to me…this is true.” Girls that like romance will enjoy this book because that aspect is present, however readers that are beyond romance will also enjoy Just Listen because it is easy to relate to and connect to.

Just Listen allows readers to see the importance of living, speaking your mind, and…just listening to the world around you.

I “liked” this book and would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

***If you liked Just Listen, you might like one of these…***

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Summary: Sixteen-year-old identical twin daughters of a district court judge and a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella desperately struggle with secrets that have already torn them and their family apart.

Identical is the first Ellen Hopkins book I have experienced and rather than read it, I decided to listen to the audio book. To say the least, listening to this book over reading it made the book not only come alive, but amped up the intensity and suspense of it.

Identical tells the tale of two identical twin sisters who couldn’t be more different from one another. The reader of this book did a great job distinguishing between the characters, which made the book easier to understand. Kaeleigh sounds sweet and innocent while Raeanne sounds like pure evil. At times I would listen to Identical while driving home at night and Raeanne’s rather intense character had me afraid to get out of my car in the dark. Both characters come alive and having the story told from varying points of view make the plot of the story move quickly and will have readers biting their nails until the very end of the book.

Ellen Hopkins’ books are always either checked out of the library or have a number of holds on them, which made me always have a nagging feeling that I needed to experience what the hype was all about. After listening to Identical, I was not let down in the least! Hopkins writes with such gritty, raw descriptions that, although sometimes hard to get through, just makes you want to continue reading that much more. What I will say is that Identical is a book with a number of plot twists and turns and an ending that readers won’t see coming!

I “really liked” this book and would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

**If you like this book, you might like one of these…***

Dirty Little Secrets by Cynthia Jaynes Omololu

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Summary: When Rob, the charismatic leader of the senior class, turns the school nerd into Prince Charming, his actions lead to unexpected violence.
Shattering Glass is the first book I have read by Gail Giles and to say the least, I was very impressed! The story has suspense, mystery, and action. At the start of every chapter, a character from the story makes a statement about the after math of an incident that the reader does not fully learn about until the end of the book. If nothing else, using this device makes the story both suspenseful and addicting to read. There are times I have to do something around the house or want to take a break from reading, but once I would read the character’s statement in the next chapter of the book, I had to keep reading.
Besides the suspense, Shattering Glass has a wide range of diverse characters. The reader will feel the sadness, anger, and disgust right along with the characters. The reader will think they have a fairly firm grasp on who the characters are by the middle of the book, but the end will shock readers. This psychological thriller is one that will have readers up until the wee hours of the night trying to figure out the mystery at hand.
I “really liked” this book and would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

***If you like this book, you might like one of these…***
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr

Hothouse by: Chris Lynch

Summary: Teens D.J. and Russell, life-long friends and neighbors, had drifted apart but when their firefighter fathers are both killed, they try to help one another come to terms with the tragedy and its aftermath.
Chris Lynch is an author I continue to hear about through various library sources and on blogs. I decided I would give one of his books a whirl to see what the hype was all about and the kind of books he writes. I chose Hothouse because it is has received many starred reviews and the premise seemed interesting, especially the fact that it focused on male emotions rather than the typically done female emotions.
One word to describe this book is anticipation. From the start of Hothouse I kept anticipating what was going to happen next and I was expecting a suspenseful surprising twist in the plot. At some points, I wanted to give up on this book, but as I said, the anticipation was there. I kept convincing myself that I wouldn’t be let down if I continued and finished the book. However, although Hothouse did a good job at showing the differences in ways people react to death, I was ultimately let down by the book and just felt that it lacked something.
What’s most disappointing is that the premise of Hothouse will interest potential readers, especially those that have lost a close family member or friend. Nonetheless, Hothouse is not a book I would recommend to readers, especially reluctant readers.
I thought this book was “ok” and would give it 2 out of 5 stars.

***If you liked Hothouse, you might like one of these…***
No Right Turn by: Terry Trueman
Strays by: Ronald Koertge
Rough Waters by: S. L. Rottman


Aftershock by: Kelly Easton

Summary: In shock and unable to speak after being in a car accident in Oregon which has killed his parents, seventeen-year-old Adam journeys across the country to his home in Rhode Island.

I originally chose this book because I thought the summary sounded interesting and the book itself was a small, paperback book that I assumed I’d get through pretty quickly. The first few pages of Aftershock had me a little confused because Adam experiences flashbacks from when his parents died in a car crash, to life before the car crash, and then to various points on his journey. Although I had to really focus on what was happening, it made the story much more interesting then if the flashbacks weren’t included.

Once I was able to straighten out the flashbacks, the book was pretty interesting. Adam encounters a number of people on his journey from Oregon to Rhode Island and some made the plot move forward more than others. The fact that Adam is not physically capable of speaking but is able to get acquainted with the various characters made the story a little far fetched at times. Initially, I thought the plot would be more suspenseful and action packed than it was. Although this disappointed me, I just could not put the book down because I wanted to know what would happen to Adam and whether or not he would make it home.

I “liked” this book and would give it 3 out of 5 stars.

***If you liked Aftershock, you might like one of these...***

Tears of a Tiger  by: Sharon M. Draper
Chinese Handcuffs  by: Chris Crutcher
The Perfect Shot  by: Elaine Marie Alphin