Plum, Amy. Die For Me.
Kate and her sister Georgia move to Paris following the death of their parents. Living with her grandparents in a city she loves should be enjoyable, but she is homesick and can't snap out of it. Finally pushing herself, she sets out to read in a sidewalk cafe and sees an attractive boy, who keeps showing up. It is Vincent, and the two start hanging out, but Kate soon discovers alarming things about him that make her think he might be dangerous. He is, but he is also good-- he is a revenant, someone who died sacrificing himself for someone else, and now he is immortal. He and his "family" all try to save other people, but they are dormant three days a month, and if they die trying to save someone (which is something of a compulsion), they go back to being the age they were when they died. This complicates the budding romance between Vincent and Kate, especially when evil forces who are working against the revenants come in to play.
Strengths: Honestly, my tolerance for paranormal romances has reached extreme nose wrinkle proportions, but I really enjoyed this one! It was original and not as hand-wringingly fraught as most of them. Sure, there's some sacrifice in the romance (Vincent wouldn't be able to save people and he would then age along with Kate,but she would die and he wouldn't), but it seems more palatable than most. Loved the cover, don't mind reading a sequel. (Oh! Until I Die, due May 2012 or so!) I'm thinking that the grandparents know more than we think they do!
Weaknesses: While the sexual urges in this book are handled very delicately, things could get out of hand as the series progresses.
Sheinmel, Courtney. All The Things You Are.
Carly has a good life; although her father died when she was quite young, she is fond of her stepfather, whom she calls "faux pa", and her step siblings. She has good friends at her prestigious private school. When her mother is accused of embezzling from the soap opera on which she is a stylist, however, everything starts to fall apart. Her mother is actually guilty of using the show credit card to buy things for herself, and she is eventually sent to jail. Carly has to deal with the changes this brings-- her friends don't understand, and she has to deal with many ordinary issues without the support of her mother.
Strengths: This is a good problem novel that brings in several different issues-- there is also a grandmother with Alzheimers, a friend whose mother is alcoholic, and problems with family finances. Carly is a likable character who does the best she can in the circumstances. I actually had a friend in middle school whose father was indicted on tax fraud charges, so things of this nature do occur.
Weaknesses: Don't like the cover, and the tone of this was slightly odd. Perhaps Carly was too mature? Not mature enough? I still think it will be popular and will buy it.