I’ve read so many great new Young Adult books lately that I couldn’t help but share more than one with you this month. Below, find books representing all of the best that summer has to offer: romance, music, adventure, and much more!
HOLDING COURT by K.C. Held
Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.
For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.
The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…
Why I love it: A YA romantic comedy mystery? Count. Me. In. The protagonist, Jules, is a fascinating, lovable, honest, and quirky character that I just couldn’t get enough of. Her seemingly random psychic blurting made me LOL more than once, and her love of Grayson Chandler’s abs created plenty of adorably awkward teenage crush moments. This reminded me of a fun, younger version of Psych (LOVED that show) set at a Medieval Times dinner theater, which might sound cheesy but is actually magically delicious.
TONE DEAF by Olivia Rivers
Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.
When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.
Why I love it: I’ve never read anything quite like this before. Ali and Jace, with their experiences with music and the Deaf culture, were absolutely fascinating characters. I loved their connection. Ali is a great, strong, smart protagonist who I couldn’t help but cheer for all the way through. I’m also a fan of how skillfully the topic of abuse was woven into the story, bringing in a serious topic without making the whole story depressing.
LITTLE BLACK DRESSES, LITTLE WHITE LIES by Laura Stampler
Harper Anderson always believed she belonged somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick’s backyard can one girl take? That’s why Harper is beyond ecstatic when she lands her dream internship as a dating blogger at the elite teen magazine Shift. Getting to spend the summer in New York City to live her dream of becoming a writer? Harper’s totally in.
There’s just one teeny, tiny, infinitesimal problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a lot of – or, really, any – dating expertise. In fact, she might have sort of stolen her best friend’s experiences as her own on her Shift application. But she can learn on the job…right?
From awkward run-ins with the cute neighborhood dog-walker to terrifying encounters with her crazed editor, from Brooklyn gallery openings to weekends in the Hamptons, Harper finds out what it takes to make it in the Big City–and as the writer of her own destiny.
Why I love it: Harper’s story, along with the characters, the pacing, and the settings are all spot on. Harper as a main character is relatable and flawed yet still totally likable, and I found her summer adventures to be just irresponsible enough to have fun without crossing the line into encouraging destructive behaviors. I also loved the ending and how Harper grew throughout the course of the story.
LOVE & GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Why I love it: I have all the love in the world for well-written YA books involving an American teen traveling to a place I’d love to go. Through the journal that was left for her in Italy, Lina makes some new and strong connections to her mom, and she learns some truths about her father, which ultimately lead her to really understand and appreciate what family means. She also finds love and adventure throughout the summer, and the story is really just beautiful. It also left me with a serious desire to go to Italy… But I settled for making a feast of Italian food for my family.