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Completely unable to resist the latest teen novels

I know that I am probably too old to get excited about new books for teens. Still, I couldn't help falling for the new MTV Books series, which goes on sale this week.

First of all, the books are really cute. I also love the size and weight of them. Each one is about one-third smaller than a regular-sized trade paperback. They're perfect for slipping into my purse, which works well for me, since I like to take at least one book everywhere I go.

Then there's the stories, which are extremely entertaining. In the three I've read so far, the central characters are older teen girls whose lives have suddenly become more complex.

"The 310: Life as a Poser" by Beth Killian (MTV Books, $9.95) was my favorite. In this book, the first in a series, Eva moves to Los Angeles, where her aunt works as a talent agent. She thinks she'll be living with her aunt, but instead, she ends up in a dorm with several teen actresses. They quickly introduce her to life in L.A.

This story combines teen drama and Hollywood life in a really appealing way. I liked it as much as any other Hollywood story I've read - and more than some.

Though "Plan B" by Jenny O'Connell (MTV Books, $9.95) is set in Chicago, the story also has a celebrity connection. At the beginning of her senior year, Vanessa finds out that her half-brother is one of the biggest teen stars in Hollywood. Worse, he's moving in with her family and her perfectly planned year starts to fall apart.

I liked "Plan B," not quite as much as "Life as a Poser." Still, I couldn't wait to pick up another MTV Book.

I found "The Pursuit of Happiness" by Tara Altebrando (MTV Books, $9.95) surprisingly moving. The book opens on the day Betsy's mother dies from breast cancer.

I was startled by this beginning, which kept me reading, even though I thought the story might upset me. In general, I try to avoid things that are likely to make me cry (the list includes sad movies, tragic novels and most boys), but I wanted to see what would happen.

Betsy's grief seemed really realistic, which might be why the book affected me so much. I didn't actually feel teary-eyed, though, until the part when Betsy remembers going wedding dress shopping with her mom. Betsy is years away from getting married, but her mom, who was really sick from cancer, still wanted to share the experience with her. Thinking of it makes my throat feel all lumpy. That's not the way I thought I would react to a really cute book that fits perfectly in my purse.

I am looking forward to the rest of the MTV Books, though if you see me, you'll never know that's what I'm reading. The books will be tucked discreetly in my bag.

Author notes

I love getting e-mail, so I can't really even begin to describe how excited I was that not one, not two, but three authors wrote to me recently. This week, I got a really nice note from Kristin Harmel, author of "How to Sleep With A Movie Star" (5 Spot, $12.95).

I also heard from Mary Castillo and Berta Platas, whose stories were included in "Friday Night Chicas: Sexy Stories from La Noche" (St. Martin's Griffin, $13.95). They even arranged for me to receive copies of their latest novels.

Of course, I'd be happy to hear from anyone who is reading this column. Please feel free to send me an e-mail. Chances are, I'll even write back.

If there's a book you think I really ought to read or you have information about upcoming author appearances in the Atlanta area, please e-mail rachael.mason@gwinnettdailypost.com.