Friday Reads: "In a World Just Right," "Written in the Stars," "Jellicoe Road," and "The BFG"

I feel like I read ALL THE THINGS this week! I can't remember the last time I plowed through four books in seven days. But they're all awesome books, all page-turners…and having sent my new manuscript off to its first few beta-readers, I had a little more time on my hands than usual. Here's the scoop:

In a World - Written in the Stars

I ended up with two more Fearless Fifteener ARCs this week: Jen Brooks' IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT and Aisha Saeed's WRITTEN IN THE STARS. Both were wonderful, and you should buy them in 2015. (That's going to be a theme whenever I comment on upcoming Fearless Fifteener releases going forward: buy them! Support talented debut authors!)

IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT is about a boy, Jonathan, who can create new worlds at will. As a high school senior in the real world, Jonathan is a loner, disfigured by a facial scar and generally ignored by his peers. In his favorite alternate world, he still has the scar, but he's dating the most popular girl in school, runs track, and has friends. One day he accidentally tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, instead of the version that's his girlfriend, and the two Kylies begin to merge, taking on each other's characteristics. In order to save them both, Jonathan has to figure out the truth behind his world-building abilities. This book has a plot that twists and turns, keeping you guessing until the very end. Great for fans of sci-fi/fantasy and contemporary stories alike!

WRITTEN IN THE STARS is about a Pakistani-American, Naila, whose parents want her to have an arranged marriage. The problem is, Naila has fallen for a classmate, Saif, and she's been hiding her relationship from her parents. When they find out about her boyfriend, Naila's appalled and disappointed parents whisk her off for a "vacation" in Pakistan—and it soon becomes clear that they have bigger plans for her. I couldn't put this book down. Naila's journey from fairly typical American teen (despite being the child of conservative immigrant parents) to unhappy seventeen-year-old bride is wrenching and powerful. The ending made me cry. I highly recommend this book!

Next, I crossed two more books off my YA Buccaneers Summer Reading Challenge bracket:

Jellicoe - BFGThey're both rereads: Melina Marchetta's JELLICOE ROAD for my Printz Award Winner and Roald Dahl's THE BFG as my book published the year I was born! I read JELLICOE ROAD several years ago, and I have to confess that I found it hard to get into at the beginning. Then, the ending blew me away. Upon rereading, I was hooked from page one. The story is really two stories intertwined: in present-day Australia, Taylor Markham is competing in a territory war at her boarding school against the local Townies and the Cadets who visit each summer. Taylor was abandoned on the Jellicoe Road by her mother years ago, and was raised by Hannah, a mysterious and sad woman who lives near the school grounds. Hannah, meanwhile, is writing a novel that tells the story of five friends dealing with heartbreaking loss two decades prior: Narnie, Webb, Tate, Jude, and Fitz. I don't want to spoil the way these two tales intersect, other than to say that if the start of the book doesn't hook you, keep going. It's well worth it.

THE BFG was one of my absolute favorite books as a kid. I have vivid memories of reading favorite passages over and over and laughing until I cried. The snozzcumbers! The whizzpoppers! The way different people from different countries have different flavors! (People from Turkey taste like turkey, while people from Greece taste greasy and people from Panama taste of hats.) When I discovered that this book was first published in 1982, and thus fit into one of my Summer Reading Challenge categories, I knew I was due for a reread—and rereading just cemented how much I can't wait to share this book with my own kids one day.

Summer Reading 8-15

Only three squares to go! (I still can't think of a book I disliked as a kid… I remember devouring just about everything! Mom? Help!)

What are you reading this week?