Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (Copy provided by Putnam)

Fourteen-year-old Kelsey Finkelstein has been dreaming about freshman year for some time now. She’s been dreaming about just how great this year is going to be. This is going to be her year, the year she makes a name for herself. With her new positive attitude, Kelsey has high hopes of landing a spot on the JV soccer team — and winning hottie Jordan’s heart. But Kelsey quickly finds out that dreams don’t always come true.

Freshman year is one unnatural disaster after the other. It starts with a very unflattering picture of her (tripping, of course) plastered to the front page of the Reflector, her high school’s newspaper. And ends with her being cast – as a man – in the spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

As if this isn’t bad enough, she catches best friend Cass making out with Jordan, the same Jordan Kelsey has been crushing on forever. This is too much to handle, especially for a fourteen year old. Will Kelsey survive long enough to tell the tale that is the unnatural disaster called freshman year?

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, written by debut author Meredith Zeitlin, is a fun-filled glimpse into the life of a fourteen year old girl. For the younger audience, it will give a scary glimpse into the ups and downs of freshman year. For the older audience, it will let us travel back in time to relive all of those “unnatural disasters”.

Zeitlin’s writing is precise and sharp. Each sentence is well structured, each chapter is well crafted. Reader’s really will appreciate the conversational tone this book has. Kelsey’s voice is real, and often times feel as if a close friend is relating a very personal story. Bottom line, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is unbelievably real.

Zeitlin’s characters are uniquely her own creations. Their voices are youthful, fresh, and authentic. They are easy to relate to, and reader’s will find a bit of themselves buried in each of the characters. Kelsey is a great character. In many ways she’s a typical fourteen year old – a bit scattered and overly self involved. But in so many ways she’s far from typical. She takes everything in stride, she’s smart beyond her years, and she’s willing to turn a bad situation into a good one. She’s a strong character that reader’s will remember.

This is a book full of messages – be yourself, you don’t need to drink (alcohol) in order to fit in or be cool, honesty is the best policy – but these messages don’t weigh down the book one bit. In fact they are weaved into the story so well, reader’s won’t feel like their being preached to. And that’s a hard thing to do. Zeitlin’s managed to weave solid life advice into a short two hundred plus pages.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a quick read that will leave reader’s laughing loudly. It’s charming, full of memorable characters, and has some real swoon-able moments.

Perception: A Clarity Novel

Perception by Kim Harrington

Life certainly has changed for Clarity “Clare” Fern. Ever since she helped the police crack that murder case last summer, her popularity has sky – rocketed. Girls who once made fun of her now flock to her side claiming to be BFFs. Both old and new flames vie for her attention and her heart.  All she wanted to do was clear her brother’s name and help the police. She never wanted this new found fame.

But when a local girl suddenly goes missing her mother turns to the Fern family for answers. Unfortunately they can’t help. Perry can only pick up the voice of a girl named Ashley, someone completely unrelated to the missing girl. And Clare can’t seem to coax any visions to come her. All Clare wants to do is help. Even if her mother forbids her to get involved.

But Clare has other mysteries to solve, like the one that involves her and a stalker-like secret admirer. At first she thinks it either Justin or Gabriel.  When they both deny it, Clare has to figure out who this person is. As she tries to track him or her down, things take a turn for the worse. Will Clare figure out who her secret admirer is? And if she does, will she live long enough to tell?

Perception, written by author Kim Harrington, is the second novel in the Clarity series. Full on intriguing twists and turns, readers will be kept guessing and gripping the edge of their seats.

Harrington’s writing is stellar. Her writing is simple, yet strong. Each word works toward the budding mystery, but doesn’t drop any obvious hints. She has a real way of attracting attention, captivating audiences, and weaving a mystery that will keep readers guessing up until the very end. She’s a real word-smith.

Unlike Clarity, Harrington’s fist novel, Perception has not one, but two mysteries: the missing girl and Clare’s secret admirer.  Each mystery presented within the pages is well-balanced – one never over-shadows the other. Each work together, in tandem, creating the a hard to crack case.

Perception is full of both new and well-loved characters. Not only are Clare and psychic family present and accounted for but so are ex-boy friend Justin and heart-throb Gabriel. Even though readers have already been acquainted, there is still so much we don’t know about them. As for new characters like Clare’s new friend (insert friends name here), they’re enchanting.

Reader’s will find themselves wanting to get know them, wanting to know what makes them tick, if they’re suspects (or not). Even more fleshed out, Perception’s characters – both old and new – are well-rounded, realistic, and ultimately believable, even the dead ones!

Perception does not disappoint. As a follow-up. Perception has certain expectations – is it going to be action – packed, fun-filled, and a solid who done it mystery? Perception lives up to and exceeds all expectations.