‘The Perfect Catch’ by Maggie Dallen Book Review

‘The Perfect Catch’ by Maggie Dallen is a swoon-worthy romance that captures the innocent, yet frustrating relationship between Callie and Noah. Even though the two have known each other for basically their whole lives, having grown up as neighbors, coupled with the fact that Noah and Callie’s brother are best friends, they have not realized their romantic feelings for each other until recently. Once they do, they individually determine that the feelings must be one-sided, and that there isn’t any reason to see if anything will happen between them.

They are content to stay out of each other’s way, even though Callie wants to know what is bothering Noah so much since she used to be able to talk to him. Then one kiss changes everything. With her overthinking nature, Callie sets her mind on the idea that Noah would have kissed anyone in the scary situation they were faced with at the time. Noah, meanwhile, does his best to put Callie out of his mind, out of respect for his friendship with her brother.

When they are thrown together in a ball game with Noah as the coach and Callie as the star pitcher, their friction gets ramped up many notches, and they are forced to confront their feelings once and for all.

Maggie Dallen has captured the beauty of falling in love along with the uncertainty of it all. Definitely a story to add to any contemporary romance lover’s must-read list.

You can find ‘The Perfect Catch’ by Maggie Dallen here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Edge Rules’ by Melanie Hooyenga Book Review

‘The Edge Rules’ by Melanie Hooyenga will draw you in and keep you riveted as you wonder how main character Brianna will find a way to re-shape her life rather than reclaim the one she would rather leave behind. A former bully, she has been ousted from her group of friends and made to feel just like the kids she always made fun of, making her question what the point was of ever being so cruel and calculating about how to maintain her power.

Readers learn much about Brianna throughout the story, including how her past definitively shaped who she became from eighth grade until the beginning of her junior year. Set shortly after junior year begins, Brianna’s life is now completely upended, not just because of her loss of popularity and friends, but because of her father’s upheaval of their family. When he leaves, everything seems to go south quickly. Adding to this is the fact that she was caught shoplifting and now needs to spend time with a group of kids she never thought she’d ever associate with as they do community service together.

Brianna’s exposure to people not in her regular group of friends and acquaintances and her eventual understanding that her actions definitely do have consequences, for her as well as others, makes her want to be a better person. Getting in the way of this is a very good-looking boy, Xavier. While she wants to be with him, her worry about the shame she’ll feel and the horrible person he’ll see when she reveals the truth of her past threatens to unravel her fully. Yet she knows, as she has grown, that telling the truth is the only way to move forward. The question remains whether she’ll be brave enough to do so, and what will happen when and if she does.

A well-reasoned look into the mind of a former bully and mean girl, ‘The Edge Rules’ tells Brianna’s past and present in a way that will surely shape her future. Her relationship with her parents and her former friends, as well as with new people such as Xavier and Drea, from community service, instill in her a sense of calm that she’s never felt and which she desperately wants to maintain. Her life, while having been seemingly easy, is now uncertain, and her struggles are real – not just the upset of a rich girl for whom things have gone wrong.

The ‘Rules’ series is one of two series (the other being the ‘Flicker Effect’ series) that readers should rush to read. Hooyenga’s adeptness at storytelling and drawing readers in is beautiful and will literally keep readers drawn into her books into the night.

You can find ‘The Edge Rules’ by Melanie Hooyenga here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘A Long Line of Cakes’ by Deborah Wiles Book Review

‘A Long Line of Cakes’ by Deborah Wiles, set in a comfortably cozy town where everyone knows each other, captures the true meaning of finding yourself and the friendships that come along the way. Emma Lane Cake has moved town with her five brothers and four dogs so that her family can open up a new bakery. They move from town to town doing just this, and Emma, while she makes friends everywhere she goes, has decided that it isn’t worth doing it again, lest she be hurt by losing any new friends she does make when her parents decide to move yet again.

Emma’s plan is not as easy as she thought, for when she meets Ruby Lavender, she has trouble keeping her promise to herself. A new friendship seems in the cards, but she holds back on giving of herself completely, as her fear of being hurt by loss causes her to succumb to uncertainty over whether she should even bother getting to know Ruby.

While it was a bit hard to follow who each character was in as much detail as some readers might like, especially with the Cake kids who all had such long and involved names, the kindness found within the setting of Aurora County helps to offset this. Even though there are lots of people who aren’t necessarily explained in thorough enough detail in this book, readers who have read past books in this series will likely be more familiar with the characters and setting.

With Ruby’s help, Emma Lane Cake learns what friendship can be, and they work together to help Emma keep her parents from doing the thing she hates most – moving and taking her from everything she knows and loves.

You can find ‘A Long Line of Cakes’ by Deborah Wiles here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Soof’ by Sarah Weeks Book Review

‘Soof’ by Sarah Weeks is a story that not only has a contemporary feel, but takes readers back to a seemingly gentler time. The setting of the book, while likely in present day, seems like it can just as easily be in the past. This feeling that it could have taken place at any time is a nice touch, as it will likely help the book to resonate across different age groups and stand the test of time.

The main character, Aurora, feels like she is somewhat weird, making her different from her classmates. Adding to this feeling is Aurora’s mother’s fascination with a good friend, Heidi, whom Aurora’s parents raised when Heidi’s parents weren’t around. A stroke of bad luck occurs for the family, however, when a fire threatens their home, keeping them out of the house for the time period which was supposed to include Heidi’s visit. Despite this misfortune, Aurora is pleased that she doesn’t have to meet Heidi or try to live up to what she feels are her mother’s expectations for her based on how she knows her mother feels about Heidi. Yet she also has to deal with the fact that her beloved dog, Duck, is also missing. The only friend she has ever really known, she makes it her only purpose to find Duck and bring him home.

The themes in ‘Soof’ are always present in everyday life, from feelings of loneliness to uncertainty, loss to comfort. Aurora learns that ‘soof,’ a word used in the book to mean ‘love,’ is often around in not-so-visible ways. She, along with readers, only need to learn to see it for what it is rather than tending to look for the not-so-good issues that regularly pop up as part of life in general. In ‘Soof,’ Sarah Weeks has written a story that readers will be able to connect with through common themes and an ending that brings the writing together nicely.

You can find ‘Soof’ by Sarah Weeks here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Chasing Mermaids’ by Seven Steps Book Review

‘Chasing Mermaids’ by Seven Steps is a nice follow-up to her first book in this series, ‘The Boyfriend Agreement’. Main character Ariel just wants things to work out in her favor. Yet, when ex-boyfriend Eric lied to her about what originally brought them together, she realized that being with him was not right for her. Despite this, sparks fly between the two as the story goes on, and her potential relationship with another guy takes a backseat to her seemingly renewed friendship with Eric that could turn out to be something more if she lets it.

Her father, though, always seems to stand in the way, especially when he signs her up for a business class that she learns she has to take in place of going to swim practice, her one escape from all of the realities of her life. Dealing with her dad isn’t enough, because she also has to worry about her older sister who is beginning to rebel against everything Ariel knows and carve out a path for herself apart from the family. The fact that this sister is the one who takes care of the family since their mother’s death isn’t helping matters any, since with her gone, Ariel worries that she’ll have to take the lead and keep the family together.

With a best friend in tow, and a couple of other friends on the sidelines based on past indiscretions on their part, Ariel tries to find a way to navigate her new relationships and her aggravating family issues so she can find her own happiness. This proves to be harder than she thought, but she still does her best to make it all work for her, sometimes taking matters into her own hands and finding her way into some trouble along the way.

Seven Steps has crafted a cute and friendship-filled story that has plenty of sweet romantic twists included. The way she writes in a similar fashion to Disney stories gives the writing an endearing quality.

You can find ‘Chasing Mermaids’ by Seven Steps here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Meet Me There’ by Judy Corry Book Review

‘Meet Me There’ by Judy Corry follows main characters Luke and Ashlyn. They don’t get along too well, especially since he likes playing pranks on her, and she tries to best him with each one. When he gets the opportunity to play out the biggest prank of all – pretending to be someone he’s not, with Ashlyn none the wiser – he jumps at the chance. Little does she know that the endearing British boy she meets in a dark classroom is actually the bane of her existence – or so she thinks. The fact that they get along so well despite never having seen each other is mysterious and energizing to Ashlyn, and Luke’s fake accent is helping the mystery to stay alive. The trouble is that when he comes to appreciate Ashlyn as more than a nemesis with whom he can spar, he doesn’t know how to get out of the conundrum he’s created for himself. Getting rid of British Boy proves harder than Luke thought possible.

The chemistry between Luke and Ashlyn is strong, yet they – and most especially Ashlyn – do their best to hide their growing attraction to each other, especially when British Boy, no matter how fake he might be, is still in the mix. When Ashlyn learns the truth, it affects her in a way she didn’t expect, and the way she deals with it brings up unexpected results and even more unexpected truths about what she expects from life and from herself.

Corry has written a sweet contemporary romance that has a good dose of anticipation built in while readers wait for Ashlyn to learn the truth and Luke to come clean about his prank. The fact that the prank turns into something real in terms of how much he likes Ashlyn is somewhat of a cliche, but it is one that any lover of young adult stories and/or contemporary romances will thoroughly enjoy.

You can find ‘Meet Me There’ by Judy Corry here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Knock Knock’ by Tammi Sauer Book Review

‘Knock Knock’ by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Guy Francis, is a cute picture book about a bear getting prepared for hibernation. He is eager to have some time alone and to not be bothered by the incessant pestering he feels he is encountering when animal after animal knocks on his door with yet another joke to share. His frustration builds and builds while the rest of the animals enjoy the sentiment, each of them coming to Bear’s house with something in hand, from soup to cupcakes to balloons, drinks, and more. As they look toward making Bear’s home ship-shape for his impending hibernation, Bear realizes that, in spite of his being ever-so-tired, his friends are only there to share how much they will miss him while he’s not around for the winter. When he awakes in the spring, feeling as awake and spry as ever, it is sweet to see him visiting his friends in the same way they visited him – with jokes to tell and a smile to share.

Sometimes it just takes a look at what is really going on, without all of the pent-up emotion hiding reality from view, to show what matters. Sauer’s sweet-natured tale of realizing that someone’s true motivation isn’t always to be out to get someone else, despite what the other person might think, is a wake-up call to anyone who has ever misread a person or situation before. The illustrations enhance the storytelling, shedding light on what is happening in the story and making it so that Bear comes to understand that having friends is worth the aggravation once in a while.

You can find ‘Knock Knock’ by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Guy Francis here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Homework Strike’ by Greg Pincus Book Review

‘The Homework Strike’ by Greg Pincus is a relevant and worthwhile story about the power of standing up and fighting for what one believes in, even if the consequences don’t seem to work in that person’s favor. Main character and seventh grader Gregory’s determination to right the wrong of homework that he feels he has been unjustly assigned – or at least the amount of it that he feels he has to do – is the main crux of the book. He comes to the conclusion that the only way to fight back is to strike. It is impressive that he does this, all the while projecting a sense of calm, still passing his tests, and never speaking out against his teachers. He likes them and knows they are doing what they think is right, but he reasons that he is doing exactly the same. This should earn him more respect, but it takes a while for his cause to grow into something more, and until then, he often feels alone, even among his group of friends whom he can’t quite convince that his act is worthy and necessary of their time.

Eventually he earns the respect of most, even if not all, of the people from whom he wants it, despite being called to the principal’s office more times than he’d like. His history teacher, Dr. Bankster, who is the main reason Gregory put the strike into action in the first place, is surprisingly calm about it as well; all the while, however, he makes Gregory feel that his cause is futile. Regardless, Gregory doesn’t give up hope, and through his determination, he sees the tides of progress approach. As more and more students, parents, and media take notice of his actions, he works hard to keep the movement going and show that it is truly a strike and not just inaction. He truly wants a change, because everybody has different levels of need, and while some students take an hour or so to complete their homework, his three hours a night is taking him away from what he cares about outside of school, including his interest in writing poetry.

Pincus’ ‘The Homework Strike’ affirms the idea that everyone has the ability to stand up and speak out, no matter the circumstance. However, it is quite important to note that disobedience can only go so far, and in order for progress to be made, concessions have to come from both sides. Nobody can do it all alone, and voicing one’s opinions should not come across as the be all and end all of a situation. Both sides matter, and without remembering that, constructive change cannot occur.

You can find ‘The Homework Strike’ by Greg Pincus here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Lucky in Love’ by Kasie West Book Review

‘Lucky in Love’ by Kasie West captures a not-too-familiar storyline, but injects it with all-too-understandable themes. When main character Maddie finds herself the winner of a multi-million dollar lottery, her popularity soars, but her relationships, from friends to family, which she thinks couldn’t possibly change if she doesn’t, begin to suffer. At the onset of her win, life seems pretty good, and her family’s issues take a back seat while she plies them with money and hopes to ease their woes. Yet life and the problems that go along with it have a nasty way of popping up, and money is shown to not necessarily be the answer to everyone’s problems.

Maddie spends time at the local zoo where she works to try to get away from the fanfare that follows her around. While there, she works with Seth, on whom she has a crush that she tries to diminish when with her friends due to their pact that they won’t have boyfriends. Her life seems unnecessarily complicated even before the money comes into play, but so is the life of a teenager. Everything seems worse than it really is, and the issues that really do exist don’t get as much attention as they often should. From Maddie’s parents’ bickering to her brother’s Peter-Pan like syndrome to just laze each day away and not take responsibility, Maddie seems to be the only one with focus and drive. Her friends help her through, but the money begins to weigh on them, and they try to tell her she’s changed. It really makes one think about the power of money and how such a huge and drastic change in one’s life can truly alter the course of one’s relationships and life in general.

Seth is a welcome distraction for Maddie, as he seems to be the only one who doesn’t know about her win. This does seem a little strange, as even though he was grounded and couldn’t watch TV during the height of her fanfare, someone at the zoo would likely have told him before Maddie gets around to it. It was also frustrating to see how Maddie didn’t quite know how to manage her money the best that she could. For all of her smarts and determination to succeed, she acted somewhat young and foolish with much of her winnings. Again, though, it is a testament to the power of lessons learned and knowledge gained.

An interesting and thought-provoking story about how a change in life can overshadow everything else, ‘Lucky in Love’ finds its happy ending and makes readers invested in reading more.

You can find ‘Lucky in Love’ by Kasie West here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Babysitter’s Club: Kristy’s Big Day’ by Gale Galligan Book Review

‘The Baby-Sitter’s Club: Kristy’s Big Day’ by Gale Galligan, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin, is an interesting take on the original book, placing the characters in a graphic novel setting. Kristy and her five babysitter friends find themselves in the thick of Kristy’s mom’s wedding and all of the kids who are coming to town for it. When they offer their services to watch the fourteen kids who will be there, they get a bit more than they bargained for, and find that the job isn’t as easy as they thought it might be. However, as can only be expected, the conflicts come to a head and the babysitters begin to find common ground with the kids that helps them all get through the week mostly unscathed.

The week leading up to the wedding has a lot of fun and drama, with arguments, outings, and a variety of mix-ups. When it all comes together, though, everything that happened proves to be worth it, and Kristy finds that the wedding, and especially her mom’s happiness, are really all that matters in the end.

The colorful graphics and wording make the story a fast read, and the nostalgia factor since it is based on an older novel makes the book even more interesting. Those who enjoyed Ann M. Martin’s original series will find themselves pulled back in, wondering just how the girls will solve their issues so the novel can end on a positive note.

You can find ‘The Babysitter’s Club: Kristy’s Big Day’ by Gale Galligan, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*