Contemporary YA Romances heat up the dog days of summer, with (of course) plenty of chilling paranormal novels when things get to steamy. Read on for cool July and August Picks from the Teen Shelves.
If you’ve been hankering for a delicious romance grounded in reality, here are some great books to check out.
LOVE STORY by Jennifer Echols. When Erin Blackwell refuses to major in business so she can take over the family horse farm (a multi-million dollar enterprise), her grandmother takes her college fund and gives it to Hunter, the stable boy. Now Erin is living a starving-artist life in New York, and writing a book for her college creative writing class–about an heiress in love with a stable boy. Imagine her chagrin when Hunter shows up in the class. Romantic wrangling ensues, as the only way these two can communicate through their hurt and betrayal is via their writing.
I love Echol’s romantic comedies (check out ENDLESS SUMMER for a perfect poolside read), and her longer romances are an expansion of everything delicious about the shorter books: The voice is still witty and sharp, but the broader canvas allows her always complex characters room to develop and the layers of their relationships to unfold. If the rom-coms are a fizzy Coke, then the romantic “dramas” (GOING TOO FAR, FORGET YOU) are a caramel latte with extra foam. (MTV Books; Available now.)
SASS & SERENDIPITY by Jennifer Ziegler. Sisters Gabby and Daphne have polar opposite personalities, totally different outlooks on romance, and wildly divergent ways of dealing with their parents’ divorce and the financial problems that follow. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and told in alternating viewpoints, this witty, sweet and romantic book centers on the relationship between the sisters, who fight with and frustrate each other, but in the end find deep affection for each other, no matter how different they are. (Delacorte Press; Available Now)
SOMETIMES IT HAPPENS by Lauren Barnholdt. It’s first day of her senior year–the first day that Hannah will see her ex-boyfriend, her best friend, and her best friend’s boyfriend since Hannah and her BFF’s BF (got that?) hooked up over the summer. How Hannah came to break the first rule of friendship unfolds in chapters that alternate with the fallout in this originally told, romantic and heartfelt book. Good stuff. (Simon Pulse; Available Now.)
EPIC FAIL by Claire LaZebnik. At Coral Tree Prep, who your parents are can make or break you. HE is the son of Hollywood royalty. SHE is the principle’s daughter. But in this funny tale of fitting in and flirting, no one is who they seem on first impression. Will Ellie figure out who’s the right guy beneath the surface charm? Sounds very Pride and Prejudice, and very delightful. (HarperTeen; 8/2)
CHAIN REACTION by Simone Elkeles. Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series (this is the third) are wildly popular and well written. Her characterization and dialogue gives an authenticity to the Latino gang culture of her bad-boy Fuentes brothers, without it dominating and making any of these into “issue books.” They are satisfying, character-driven, steamy, swoon-worthy, romances romances with huge cross over appeal to adult readers.
Luis Fuentes doesn’t have that angst of his brother Alex and Carlos (from Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction). He’s smart, funny, college-bound and determined to become an astronaut. (Cool!) But when he falls in love with the wrong girl, and he gets some news about his family, will his bad boy side emerge and leave him living on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father? (Walker; 8/16)
Want something nifty that isn’t a paranormal OR a contemporary novel? Check out these historical recent releases:
The trend in YA paranormal continues unabated. Here are some quick takes of things that have caught my eye.
BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris. Take one losing football team, a funny, nerdy student athletic trainer with medical school aspirations, and a secret formula that she only wishes were steroids, and you’ve zombies loose in the high school halls. The very likable narrator won me over on this undead tale, which struck the right balance between an ernest sense of jeopardy and a light sense of humor. (Delacorte)
TOUCH OF FROST: A MYTHOS ACADEMY NOVEL by Jennifer Estep. A supernatural boarding school book from a popular adult urban fantasy author. Mythos academy is full of kick-butt warrior spartans and literal computer wizards, but Gwen Frost is just a psychic. Then she reads the history of an object and reveals dark danger ahead, she might just be the one to save them all. (Kensington)
WILDEFIRE by Karsten Knight. A supernatural boarding school book from a funny and talented debut author. Ashline Wilde enrolls in Blackwood Academy to escape her sister Eve’s drama. Fat chance. The school is full of gods and goddesses, and she’s one of them. With supernatural war on the horizon, Ash has to master the fire inside of her. Fully of snappy dialogue, sibling rivalry, and fresh twists on old myths. (Simon & Schuster)
POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil. Fifteen year old Bridget can hear demons, which is disconcerting to say the least, but she finds a place working with San Francisco’s senior exorcist, Monsignor Renault. But then things get twisty when a demonic message and a murder make her realize she’s in deep. Can she unlock the demons’ plan before anyone else winds up dead or possessed in this dark and twisty tale? (Balzer + Bray; 8/23)
THE FOX INHERITANCE by Mary E. Pearson. I cannot tell you the plot of this book without giving away too much about THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, which this book is the (unexpected) sequel to. So go read that book, which is an emotional, engrossing story about love, identity, humanity, and scientific ethics. Then read this one, which continues the theme. (Henry Holt; 8/30)
And a few more I’m looking forward to in August:
Stay cool and happy reading!
Rosemary Clement-Moore writes Young Adult books because she loves to read them.
Visit her webpage or blog to find out more about her award winning Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series, and her gothic romance, THE SPLENDOR FALLS (now in paperback). Next up is TEXAS GOTHIC.