Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance and Cookery by Susan Juby

Sherman Mack, well he’s kind of a nobody, but he knows what he likes: cooking classes, detective stories and girls, well one girl in particular…Dini Trioli. When Dini starts dating a popular lacrosse player Sherman’s afraid she is in danger of being defiled. No one knows who starts it or why, but once a girl’s picture appears on the bathroom mirrors in the school with a big D written on it, she’s as good as invisible, a social lepper, and Sherman thinks Dini’s next. In order to save her reputation, win the girl and be the inevitable hero, Sherman goes undercover.

Getting the Girl is a wryly observant look at high school and the social and physical awkwardness of grade 9 boys. The narrative is sincere and unapologetic in its frankness and it makes for quite an enjoyable read. Sherman is one of the best male main characters I’ve read in a while. I thoroughly enjoyed all his embarrassing moments and naive reflections, he was very lovable. The supporting characters were quirky and equally as fun to read about.  Judy also did a wonderful job at addressing social hierarchy and bullying in a way that was humorous and unobtrusive. The thing I enjoyed most about this novel was the flow and Juby’s writing style – I can’t wait to read more of her books. YA boys might also really enjoy this novel.

You might enjoy Getting the Girl if you like books with: male main characters, quirky and hilarious storylines, high school settings, a good mixture of likable characters and fast moving plots

Also by Susan Juby: Alice I think, Alice Macleod Realist at Last, Another Kind of Cowboy, Miss Smithers

If you liked Getting the Girl, you might also enjoy: Boy’s Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman, The Dark Days of Hamburger Haplin by Josh Berk, Will Grayson; Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Author website:

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P3.5/4   O3/4   PP3/4   CR3.5/4

Grade Level Interest: JS


Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

“The day I broke up with my boyfriend Evan was the day he wrote the song. You know, the song.”

Audrey thought she was just breaking up with her boyfriend; she didn’t know she was inspiring a billboard top song. Everything changes when Evan’s, her boyfriend, song “Audrey, Wait!” starts getting played on the radio. Everyone recognizes Audrey from the song and she becomes an instant celebrity, adored and hated. Musicians try to date her to get inspiration and teen girls sneak into her school to get her autograph. Things are getting complicated and a little scary as Audrey tries to shed the limelight, especially because it’s interfering with her ability to date this really cute guy at her work.

Will Audrey ever be able to have a normal life again? Get ready to find out, because it’s time for Audrey to tell her side of the story. (from jacket cover)

I thought Audrey, Wait! was a complete breath of fresh air. Robin Benway knows how to write for teens and I thoroughly enjoyed Audrey’s whit, dry humour and brilliant sarcasm. She is a very well written character, both loveable and enviable. She is also very relatable, especially to those for whom music plays a heavy role in their lives. I thought the idea was very original and I enjoyed watching the story un-fold. I also loved all the musical elements that were interwoven, including the quotes at the top of each chapter, it added considerable depth to the story. Overall, it was an awesome book and I think it has wide appeal.

You might enjoy Audrey, Wait! If you like books with: laugh out loud moments, sarcasm and whit, focus on main character rather than fast paced plot, quirky side characters and books about music

Also by Robin Benway: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June

If you liked Audrey, Wait! You might also enjoy: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, How to be Popular by Meg Cabot, Boys, Girls and other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Additional Info: Check out the Audrey, Wait website to read an excerpt, see the official soundtrack for the book(which you can download from itunes) and upload your photo to see yourself in the tabloids.

 Author website:

Rating: W4/4 CP3.5/4 P4/4 O4/4 PP3/4 CR3/4

Grade Level Interest: JS


Evermore by Alyson Noel

After a horrible accident that kills her parents and her little sister, Ever Bloom is left alive and able to see people’s auras, hear their thoughts and know someone’s entire life story simply by touching them. Needless to say, she’s altered.  She’s learnt to deal with it by using music to drown out the voices and avoiding touching people at all cost; that is until she meets Damen and everything changes. He is gorgeous and mysterious, but he doesn’t have an aura and he can shut out all the voices simply by touching Ever. She’s drawn to him, even though she feels she might be in danger. As everything around her starts to fall apart Ever will have to decide whether or not she wants to be different and how important Damen is in her life.

Evermore fits very well into the genre of paranormal romance. I really enjoyed the novelty of some of Ever’s power, especially her ability to see auras and speak to her dead sister. So much of this genre is similar, so I was thankful that Noel had this unique aspect. The story is fast-paced and there is a lot of action and suspense that kept me very engaged. However, there were a few problems that left me slightly disappointed. I felt at times there was too much going on, Ever’s powers and the Immortals storyline compete for space. I almost wish it had of been one or the other. I also stumbled over the relationship between Damen and Ever, feeling that it was a tad too much Edward/Bella for my liking. I can definitely see the appeal that this book would have to readers and I would still recommend it to a specific audience. However, I don’t think I will be finishing the series.

You might enjoy Evermore if you like books with: romance, otherworldly men, main characters with their own powers, suspense

Also by Alyson Noel: Cruel Summer

Evermore is part of the Immortal Series, also in the series are: Blue Moon, Shadowland and Dark Flame.

Alyson Noel also has a book called Radiance coming out in August 2010 about Ever’s sister Riley after she leaves Ever.

If you liked Evermore, you might also enjoy: Fallen by Lauren Kate, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Evernight series by Claudia Gray and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Additional Info: dramatic rights have been sold, so something similar might appear as a TV show in the future

Rating: W2.5/4   C2.5/4   P2.5/4   O1.5/4 PP3/4   CR3/4

Grade Level: JS

By the Time You Read This, I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Daelyn doesn’t want to live. After a string of botched suicide attempts she is determined to get it right and starts looking at a website for “completers.” She’s tired of the bullying and the loneliness and she is determined to end it all. Then some boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school and he just won’t leave her alone. She doesn’t want to make any connections because she doesn’t plan on staying around but Santana won’t let up and she starts to have doubts.

Julie Anne Peters is one of my favourite authors but for me this wasn’t one of her greatest books. I really struggled connecting to Daelyn as a character and I had a difficult time feeling anything for her. It might have just been that I have a problem with the topic, but I just couldn’t get past it. There were a few things I did really enjoy that I thought made this book stand out that I think will appeal to many readers. First, the main character is silent. Daelyn cannot talk and that made for a very unique reading experience that I really enjoyed. Also, Peters leaves the ending very vague, so the reader can decide what happens, which is rather creative. Also, I think those who like to read issue fiction will find a lot of the elements they are generally pulled to in this book. So while I didn’t necessarily love this book, I still encourage you to read it and make your own decision.

You might enjoy By the Time You Read This, if you like books with:  real life serious issues, not a lot of focus on romance, sensitive and emotionally evocative storylines, quick and fast paced plots

Also by Julie Anne Peters: Luna, Between Mom and Jo, Far From Xanadu, How to do you Spell G-E-E-K?

If you liked By the Time You Read This, you might also enjoy: Willow by Julia Hoban, Crash into me by Albert Borris, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Additional Info:

Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention. This is a list of Crisis and Contact numbers throughout Ontario

 gURL – great website just for teens, has information and resources on suicide, bullying and other difficult issues teen face.

Rating: W4/4   C2/4   P2.5/4   O3/4   PP2/4   CR3.5/4

Grade Level: JS

Ash by Malinda Lo

In this Cinderella-like story, Ash loses both her mother and father and is forced to move away from her native land to the city with her horrid step mother. Ash misses her parents and she misses the place she came from. Rich with fairy tales and tradition, Ash longs for her home. Through trips into the forest in order to find her home, Ash meets a beautiful fairy named Sidhean. He is enchanting and because he is in love with her he offers a tempting escape to the fairy world. However, Ash also meets the King’s Huntress Kaisa who reminds Ash what it feels like to be alive and to love. She must choose between these two people she cares about and the two lives they offer.

While I hardly ever enjoy fairytales and fantasy stories, I thought that Ash was a captivating story.  For someone who doesn’t usually read this type of fiction, I found the writing very accessible; a perfect mixture of lyrical writing and every day language. There is a lot to this book, fairytales, magic, lush descriptions, danger, family and love.  I think readers will enjoy the mixture of the original Cinderella with Malinda Lo’s much more diverse and complex story; especially the love story between Ash and Kaisa. I think Lo did an amazing job of creating a main character that was identifiable and sympathetic and a world that was beautiful and broken at the same time.  I think this book has a wide appeal and I highly recommend it to be included in any library collection.

You might enjoy Ash if you like books with: fantasy, recognizable fairytales, characters that are rich and vibrant, a little bit of romance, beautiful descriptions and language.

This is Malinda Lo’s debut novel

If you liked Ash, you might also enjoy: Ice by Sarah Durst, If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s my Prince? By Melissa Kantor, Magic under the Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Additional Info: Malinda is currently working on another novel set in the same world as Ash. This one focuses on the first huntress of the kingdom (not one from the fairy tales) and is set to be published spring 2011

Author Website:

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P4/4   O4/4   PP2.5/4   CR3/4

Grade Level:  a high J or S


Willow by Julia Hoban

“except the only times that she’s laughed in the past seven months have been in his company. When he’s with her she’s able to forget the lure of the razor for more than five minutes at a time.”

Willow is a cutter – that’s how she deals with the grief caused by her parents’ death. She was driving them home and there was an accident. Now she lives with her brother and cuts to take away the emotional nightmare of her life. She’s fine with self-punishment, and she’s not looking for anything else.  However, when a fellow student, Guy, comes to learn her secret and yet still cares for her, Willow realizes that cutting doesn’t just stop the hurt but it blocks out everything else. If she wants to feel anything for Guy and be what he deserves her to be, then she’ll have to decide – him or the cutting.

I unfortunately did not like this book, despite all the positive feedback I heard from it. I didn’t connect with the characters, the relationship or the storyline. It was really lacking for me, and I found the writing at times a little superficial. However, that isn’t to say that there weren’t good elements to it and that other people wouldn’t like it. I do enjoy issue novels and I’m glad that this type of literature exists, so those in Willow’s circumstance can find some reflection and perhaps some solace from her story. I think readers will like the honesty of the story, and the fact that cutting is dealt with in a frank manner. I think readers will also enjoy the romance, and Guy as a character; he was well created.  For those who like issue novels, this fits in the genre well. I just recommend you read other, perhaps more positive reviews before reading.

You might enjoy Willow if you like books with: difficult issues, emotionally driven storylines, romance, a central character who has to overcome a difficult situation

If you liked Willow you might also enjoy: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Resources: – a great neutral website for people who are self-injurers to talk, get support, be creative (poems, art, etc)

Rating: W2.5/4   C2.5/4   P2/4   O3/4   PP2/4  CR3.5/4

Grade Level: JS ( I put it a little lower because I think this issue affects those younger than in grade 10)

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

“That day, I learned that an elephant feels tough and soft at the same time. Wrinkled, warm. And I learned that you can be brave, if you must.”

Jade DeLuna suffers from panic attacks because she’s afraid of dying. One of the things that helps calm her is watching the elephants in the zoo near her house. She even keeps an elephant webcam on in her bedroom so she can watch them from home. It’s through the webcam that she first sees the boy in the red jacket, a boy who also seems to love the elephants, a boy who is carrying a baby.  She learns his name is Sebastian and he is raising his baby alone. While completely complicated and terrifying, Jade finds herself falling for Sebastian. By being in his world with his adorable baby and his crazy activist grandmother, Jade learns valuable lessons about strength and courage and the importance of living life and being free.

The Nature of Jade is rich and compelling. While some may be turned off by the slower paced plot, the value of Caletti’s books is found in the richness of the characters and writing. I’m not sure how to describe it, but to me, reading Caletti’s books feels like those late summer afternoons sitting on a dock – a mixture of the refreshing air combined with the rich warm sun of a late afternoon. The story is beautifully written, and is unflinching in its examination of the complication of life and relationships. The side story of the elephants and the fasincating excerpts about animal behaviour provide a unique and entrancing element to the narrative. I am so in love with this story, and the character of Jade in her brokenness and the frankness at which she looks at life. Captivating. Definitely recommended.

“I am not my illness. “Girl with Anxiety.” “Trauma of the Week” – no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can’t.”

 You might enjoy The Nature of Jade if you like books with: real life issues, slower moving plots with more of a focus on character development, introspective characters, rich and sophisticated writing

Also by Deb Caletti: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Wild Roses, The Queen of Everything, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, Six Rules of Maybe

If you liked The Nature of Jade, you might also enjoy: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Additional Info: Watch the Elephants via the San Diego Zoo webcam here.

If you read a lot of Deb Caletti’s books you might find this part of her website interesting – shows how all the places and people are connected throughout her book

Author website:

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P4/4   O4/4   P3/4   CR2/4

Grade: S