Rae, Kristin. Wish You Were Italian
May 6th 2014
Pippa is just so irritated with her parents for wanting to send her to Italy to study art. She doesn't want to follow in her mother's footsteps in the art gallery; she doesn't even life her mother. At least her father makes things a little better by giving her some mad money. Instead of getting on the train to the school, Pippa stays in a hotel and hangs out in Rome for a couple of days, eating gelato and stalking a cute archaeology student named Darren. When she meets Chiara, who works at a gelato shop, the two hang out, and before long, Chiara is offering Pippa a place to stay for the summer-- her aunt's hotel in Cinque Terre. Chiara has an amazingly hot cousin named Bruno, and there is a lot of mutual interest between him and Pippa, but when Darren shows up because his dig is nearby, Pippa is conflicted. She really wants to fall in love with an Italian, but she really, really likes Darren! She has let her best friend and her grandmother know that she has ditched the art program and is staying elsewhere, and Chiara's family is super nice, so she has a fantastic summer of playing in Italy with hot boys, suffering from teen angst, until her father suddenly arrives with horrible news: her grandmother has fallen and is in a coma. Pippa is whisked back home, unable to say a proper goodbye to Bruno or to Darren. Will she ever see them again? How will she decide?
Strengths: Need a teen romance? Look into this "If Only" series. Exactly the kind of swoony romance my girls want. Some kissing, but nothing too much. And the angst! Which hot guy do I like? Oh, my! Perfect. Details of Italy and lying to parents make this even better. Definitely buying.
Weaknesses: I'm both envious and irritated. Why didn't my time in Italy go like this? And why is Pippa so WHINY? Her parents are portrayed as hands off and distant, her grandmother is great but... so sad. As I said, the girls will love it. Younger adults seem to love it. I am old and jaded, and as my 20 year old daughter has pointed out, my soul has shriveled and shrunk in the Dryer of Life.
Deaths: Bruno's father, in a fishing accident; (highlight for spoiler) Pippa's grandmother, from a fall. So irritated. A coma would have been enough to bring Pippa back from Italy; killing the grandmother was unnecessary.
Hubbard, Mandy. Fool Me Twice
May 6th 2014
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Mackenzie and Bailey are glad to have their summer jobs at the Serenity Ranch and Spa, even though this means that Mack will have to deal with Landon. Last summer they were a thing, but he dumped her the first day back at school for his old girl friend. Bailey thinks that she should move on, but Mack still really likes him. She's working in the stables because she's dyed her hair weird colors and the management don't think she should be where the posh guests can see her, like Bailey. When Landon falls off a horse, he gets a concussion and thinks that it is summer a year ago... and he and Mack are still together. Bailey thinks it is a great idea for Mack to play along but subtly get back at him. Thus starts a series of pranks of various levels, but as time passes, Mack learns more about Landon and starts to feel bad about the pranks.
Strengths: Very nice setting-- the ranch setting was fun and unusual, and the girls who like horses will be especially pleased. I will definitely be ordering the books in this series and am glad that they are available in hardcover.
Weaknesses: Sort of saw the end coming, and wasn't as fond of Mack as I wanted to be-- her "dressing weird" phase seemed forced, somehow. Small quibble for a good romance that involves just some kissing and drooling over shirtless boys.