A Literary Birthday Celebration (From What I Remember)


I’ve said it before and said it again, but one of my favorite things about blogging is meeting new people.

About a month or two ago, I started to chat with Cassie of Books with Cass, who like me is from New Jersey (although she still lives there) and has a birthday in February.

And can you believe that we are exactly a day apart? (In fact, she shares a birthday with one of my best friends and the reason I met Magan in the first place!)

During one of our daily chats, we decided to had to jump on this coincidence and write joint posts today! Basically, Cassie and I have chosen a favorite read that would inspire the best birthday celebration.

So, for me, we are heading to…


[ oh mexico. it sounds so simple i just got to go. a lil james taylor for ya ]

Last June, on a wonderful summer vacation with my husband, I read From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas. It was so much fun, such a surprise hit, and it’s most definitely on my list to re-read when the weather gets a little warmer on the east coast.

Basically, the class brainiac (Kylie) and big man on campus (Max) are forced to work together on a last minute school project and a bit of bad luck comes their way — causing them to embark on an unexpected road trip to MEXICO. Kylie is a serious person with lots of responsibilities and Max seems quite the opposite, pretending his life is easy breezy when he has a lot going on in the background. There’s EXCITEMENT. CHEMISTRY. FEAR. VARIOUS MOVIE QUOTES. AND DRINKING.

Despite the chaos, this is what I’m seeing:

From What I Remember Fiesta

Mix an awesome setting + a great dress + some frozen libations and I feel a party coming on.

Although, I will opt out of the hangover when it’s all finished. Thank you very much.

I really appreciate you taking the time to celebrate my birthday with me (a few days early), and I hope you’ll head over to Books with Cass to see what Cassie has in store for her own birthday extravaganza!

Happy Saturday!

Psst. If you haven’t checked out From What I Remember yet, the title is under $8 for the Kindle edition + the Nook too!

Estelle: From What I Remember by S. Kramer & V. Thomas

From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publication Date: 5/15/2012
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 325
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: high school graduation, Mexico, unexpected road trip
Format read: Bought eBook for my Nook
Recommended to me: Ginger from GReads could not stop raving over it! I bought it immediately.

Summary: Responsible, over-achieving Kylie has been working her butt off on her valedictorian for way too long now. So when she wakes up on graduation morning, hungover and somewhere in Mexico, with popular, hot, and cocky Max sleeping next to her, she’s not sure what alternate reality she’s stepped into. How did she get here? And will she make it to graduation on time?

For those who know me, I’m kind of a serious person. I always worked really hard in school (especially high school). I was pretty involved (go marching band! go newspaper!) and I also worked a part-time job as soon as I turned 16. (During my senior year, I worked two.) So I totally get not being able to let your hair down and have fun sometimes because there are more important things to do. While I never rose to the level of Kylie’s dedication (not to mention the care she took of her younger brother, who has Asperberger’s) or was quite as smart, I could relate to the pressures she felt, and the judgements she made about others who appeared to “have it easier”.

Then there’s Max…a popular kid with heart. No one would know it but Max is dealing with his own shit at home. But there he is strutting down the halls, kicking ass in squash, and dating one of the most gorgeous girls in school. It’s just so much easier for him to play into this persona, the one he is known for, than to be himself. It’s frustrating to hear that from a character and since I was the bookworm with high marks and not exactly the most popular (and made fun of by those who were) it’s hard for me to sympathize with the guy. But I liked him. I did.

So when Kylie and Max unexpectedly (and unhappily) must work together on a project and get roped into a wild goose chase when her laptop gets stolen by some scary men in a U-Haul — you sort of figure that the two might be able to help the other out. Maybe she’ll loosen up… maybe he’ll be real for once. Their “road trip” evolves into this KYLAX bubble that I did not want to leave. Even when I was getting burnt by the sun and I could finally go swimming, I kept on reading until the last possible moment. I was totally swept away in their wild adventure, their bickering, their chemistry, and when they finally let the other in.

While the chapters alternate between Kylie and Max, we also get to know Kylie’s fabulous gay best friend Will (loved him) and Max’s girlfriend, Lily, who is dealing with a catastrophe of her own. I liked when the supporting characters piped in… for me, it built up the tension between Kylie and Max and later, their race to get back to school. (We also get to know Kylie’s younger brother Jake a bit. I liked this insight into Asperberger’s a lot. I haven’t read about it in any other young adult books yet.)

Kramer and Thomas could have easily written the fluffiest book with a synopsis like this. But instead we have two very different people, who are each dealing with a lot at home, and we find them discovering a bit about each other. And authors have also captured this cinematic pacing that felt like I was speeding through a movie and not reading a book at all. I loved that. (The movie quotes at the beginning of each chapter was also a nice touch, brought back a ton of memories for me.)

From What I Remember is addicting from the very first page and while it’s a light, sexy read with an “omg-is-this-really-happening” type of energy, it has dimension. Life needs to be able to take chances sometimes (even if they are scary), and don’t forget that age old lesson: there may be more to people than it seems.

Goodreads | Buy it on Amazon

>> P.S. Ginger is giving away a signed copy of From What I Remember from Stacy & Valerie! Go enter!

May 2012 Young Adult Book Releases


Happy May, friends! I know we’re a few days into May now and several of these books came out already (holy batman, was May 1st a huge release date!). HOWEVER, there’s so much goodness I didn’t want to gloss over the May 2012 young adult book releases. I am so tempted to place an order from Amazon right now. It’s taking a TON of willpower not to buy everything here. Here are a few (okay, many) books Estelle and I are excited about this month:

(Photograph: Steven Errico/Corbis)


 May 01

book cover for insurgent by veronica roth, 2012 young adult book releasesInsurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Magan’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


book cover for When You Were Mine by Rebecca SerleWhen You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale. What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.     Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.     Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…


book cover for this is so not happening by kieran scott, may 2012 young adult book releasesThis is So Not Happening (He’s So/She’s So #3) by Kieran Scott
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

After their long summer apart, Ally and Jake were hoping for a drama free senior year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will work out that way…again. — It turns out that Chloe is pregnant and says that Jake is the father. Hammond is pissed at his best friend, but mostly can’t believe that Ally would stay with Jake. But Ally is tired of being apart from Jake and is willing to make it work. But that is easier said than done when Jake starts blowing Ally off to go to doctor’s appointments with Chloe and Ally joins the school play and meets a new cute guy.

But as graduation approaches, things get more complicated as new secrets come out and Ally realizes maybe Jake isn’t the guy she thought he was. After everything they’ve been through can Ally and Jake get out of Orchard Hill with their relationship intact?


book cover for welcome caller this is chloeWelcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Magan’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.


book cover for While He Was Away by Karen SchreckWhile He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

“This is just something I have to do, okay?” I hear David say. “The right thing.”

He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever’s next.

All she wants is for him to stay. She’s been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn’t have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there’s no denying it anymore. He’s gone.

When Penna Weaver’s boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she’s left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.

She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?


book cover for Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoyBeing Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t any more.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.


book cover for Waiting by Carol Lynch WilliamsWaiting by Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Growing up in Africa and Latin America as the children of missionaries, London and Zach were as close as could be. And then Zach dies, and the family is gutted. London’s father is distant. Her mother won’t speak. The days are filled with what-ifs and whispers: Did Zach take his own life? Was it London’s fault?

Alone and adrift, London finds herself torn between her brother’s best friend and the handsome new boy in town as she struggles to find herself—and ultimately redemption—in this authentic and affecting novel from award-winning novelist Carol Lynch Williams.


May 08

book cover for the princesses of iowa by m molly backes

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Estelle’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She’s pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash , everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be? In this arresting and witty debut, a girl who was once high-school royalty must face a truth that money and status can’t fix, and choose between living the privileged life of a princess, or owning up to her mistakes and giving up everything she once held dear.


book cover for revived by cat patrickRevived by Cat Patrick
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger — and more sinister — than she ever imagined.


book cover for second chance summer by morgan matsonSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Taylor’s family might not be the closest-knit – everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled – but for the most part, they get along fine. Then they get news that changes everything: Her father has pancreatic cancer, and it’s stage four – meaning that there is basically nothing to be done. Her parents decide that the family will spend his last months together at their old summerhouse in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former summer best friend is suddenly around, as is her first boyfriend. . . and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses, the Edwards become more of a family, and closer than they’ve ever been before. But all of them very aware that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance – with family, with friends, and with love.


book cover for in honor by jessi kirbyIn Honor by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Magan’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

Hours after her brother’s military funeral, Honor opens the last letter Finn ever sent. In her grief, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously decides to go to California to fulfill it.

Honor gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen Rusty in ages, but it’s obvious he is as arrogant and stubborn as ever—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Despite Honor’s better judgment, the two set off together on a voyage from Texas to California. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn’s memory—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?


book cover of jersey angel by beth ann baumanJersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Estelle’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

It’s the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She’s not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn’t sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn’t start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn’t want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn’t want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself spending more time with Inggy’s boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.


Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past – and hers?


May 10

book cover for The Summer My Life Began by Shannon GreenlandThe Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Publisher: Speak, Imprint of Penguin
Release Date: May 10, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn’t. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.


May 15

From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer, Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

KYLIE: Tijuana WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.

MAX: It all started with Kylie’s laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we’re stranded in TIjuana. WIth less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring thier passports across the border–but there’s no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can’t completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It’s even clearer now. And I’m not giving him up without a fight.


book cover for kiss the morning star by by Elissa Janine HooleKiss the Morning Star by  Elissa Janine Hoole
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

The summer after high-school graduation, a year after her mother’s tragic death, Anna has no plans – beyond her need to put a lot of miles between herself and the past. With forever friend Kat, a battered copy of Kerouac’s DHARMA BUMS, and a car with a dodgy oil filter, the girls set out on an epic road trip across the USA. Maybe somewhere along the way they’ll prove or disprove the existence of God. Maybe they’ll even get laid . . .

It’s a journey both outward and inward. Through the Badlands and encounters with predatory men and buffalo. A crazy bus ride to Mexico with a bunch of hymn-singing missionaries. Facing death, naked in the forest with an enraged grizzly bear . . . Gradually, Anna realizes that this is a voyage of discovery into her own self, her own silent pain – and into the tangled history that she and Kat share. What is love? What is sexual identity? And how do you find a way forward into a new future – a way to declare openly and without fear all that lies within you?


May 22

book cover for unbreak my heart by melissa walkerUnbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Magan’s Review
Goodreads | Amazon

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

May 31

book cover for Keep Holding On by Susane ColasantiKeep Holding On by Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: May 31, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

A romantic and empowering book about bullying

Noelle’s life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn’t know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle’s kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she’s terrified. Surely it’s safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it’s time to stand up for herself–and for the love that keeps her holding on.


So, that wraps up our list of May 2012 young adult book releases. Is there anything on your list we may have overlooked or should take special notice of? Let us know!