‘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*

‘The Very Last Castle’ by Travis Jonker Book Review

‘The Very Last Castle’ by Travis Jonker, pictures by Mark Pett, has a Willy Wonka feel to it. The book centers on the very last castle that stands in the middle of a small town. No one ever comes out of it, and no one ever goes in, yet a man stands guard, bringing a decent amount of curiosity to interested passersby. Yet one little girl named Ibb is the only one who truly begins to question the castle and the mystery that surrounds its walls. Everybody speculates as to what is inside, as people are wont to do when they don’t know about or understanding something well. Everybody would much rather think the worst than learn what truly is going on and how they might be able to take part in learning more.

When Ibb decides to enter the castle’s walls and discover the truth, she finds that perception is an interesting thing. The guard is taking care of the castle, making sure it is treated well, and Ibb, despite being a little girl who probably should not wander off on her own into mostly abandoned castles, finds that the truth she was looking for has led her into an unexpected friendship with the guard. As she joins him in exploring the castle grounds, he reveals his wish for the castle, and Ibb helps him see that it is possible in ways he had never considered.

A sweet story that is made even better through the themes of friendship, curiosity, and truth, ‘The Very Last Castle’ is a lovely tale with colorful illustrations that only enhance the storytelling.

You can find ‘The Very Last Castle’ by Travis Jonker here. The book can be pre-ordered until October 9, 2018, at which time it will be available for immediate sale.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Jack B. Ninja’ by Tim McCanna Book Review

‘Jack B. Ninja’ by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Stephen Savage, is a rhyming story about Jack, a young ninja who hides, scales the highest walls, swims underwater, enters dark caves, discovers hidden treasure, and finds himself not alone. Just when he thinks his mission has come to an end, he is saved by three friendly ninjas who help him find the ninja master, to whom he must bring the treasure.

As it turns out, the other ninjas are closer to Jack than one might think, and they are all working together toward one common goal – celebrating Jack’s birthday.

While the story is cute and brings about a sense of fantasy as young kids sometimes dream of being stealthy ninjas who can get away with anything, this story seemed as though it was missing the reveal of the ninjas as his family from a physical standpoint. It would have been nice to see them take off their masks, yet one can see how the point of the story is to show that ninjas are unpredictable and often disappear without any notice. However, the last illustration shows that they obviously spent time together, as Jack’s birthday cake has been mostly eaten. Lovers of rhyming children’s stories that play on the imagination will want to pick up this book.

You can find ‘Jack B. Ninja’ by Tim McCanna here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Freak N Gorgeous’ by Sebastian J. Plata Book Review

‘Freak N Gorgeous’ by Sebastian J. Plata provides an in-depth and telling look into the world of two teenagers who unexpectedly have their looks changed. The setting of the book is not unlike a normal world, but one large difference is that there is something called Inexplicable Developments in which people have changes happen to them based on wishes. These changes sometimes come unexpected and in ways that do not feel deserved, which is one of the main ideas of the novel.

Konrad and Camilla are the two characters whose dual viewpoints are showcased from chapter to chapter. While Konrad has gone from average looks to being taller and considerably better looking, Camilla has had the opposite happen. She has gone from average looking to quite bad-looking, in the eyes of not only herself, but the vast majority of the school. Even though her friends stand by her when they first learn of her inexplicable development, she doesn’t have many others who do, aside from her mother.

Konrad, on the other hand, loses his friends due to the dramatic and sudden change that has made him what the most popular and good-looking kids consider gorgeous. Yet, despite his seeming good fortune, he comes to learn that beauty is not just something that one can see on the outside; the way one acts and treats others also plays a part. The main conflict of the story lies in the fact that Camilla learns of Konrad’s change and attributes her own social downfall and poor looks to his wish to be better-looking. Even though nothing proves this to be true apart from Camilla’s insistence that it must be, she holds firm thinking that he is to blame. When he tries to befriend her, she aims to use his friendship tactics against him, believing against all else that he’s only doing it because it’s good for him in some way.

A novel that teaches the importance of looking beyond the surface and learning to deal with the hand that life deals you, ‘Freak N Gorgeous’ shows how getting everything you want isn’t necessarily what it’s cracked up to be, and getting dealt a bad hand won’t necessarily bring the worst results. The play on words in the title is fun, too, as Camilla believes she’s a freak while Konrad is gorgeous, but it also plays on another level, because they both realize that if they find a way to work together, maybe they will come to be “freakin’ gorgeous,” and come to be the best versions of themselves possible.

You can find ‘Freak N Gorgeous’ by Sebastian J. Plata here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentrall.com*

‘Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words’ by Donna Janell Bowman Book Review

‘Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words’ by Donna Janell Bowman, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, brings to light a not-so-well-known piece of history – a scrape that Lincoln got himself into due to his choice of humor. The almost-duel between Lincoln and James Shields could have cost him quite a bit. His life and his career could both have been in danger.

Lincoln’s humility saved him in the end, providing readers with an important moral to the story after they read how and why the duel was set in the first place. Sometimes giving in and seeing the error of one’s ways can help in making that person see the light and find the right path to being the bigger person.

Lincoln is remembered as a great man and president, and much of this is due to the way he handled himself throughout life, being kind and making tough decisions that furthered so much in United States history. His decision in the almost-duel that ended the potential danger that could have ensued was part of what shaped him into the man remembered today. All people can find a way to shape themselves into who they think they should be, just as Lincoln did. It only takes a solid dose of knowing how to swallow one’s pride when the going gets tough, just as our sixteenth president teaches us to do through Bowman’s storytelling.

You can find ‘Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words’ by Donna Janell Bowman here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*