‘He Must Like You’ by Danielle Younge-Ullman Book Review

‘He Must Like You’ by Danielle Younge-Ullman is an intensely provocative look at the various ways in which consent, upset, lack of choice, and the fallout of decisions can affect one’s life. Libby’s interactions with everyone from her parents to her friends to her boss and even her boss’ boss are weighing on her life, making it extremely difficult for her to cope with the feelings of aggravation that she is experiencing. Despite all of this, she aims to turn that aggravation into determination to do what is right. However, the cost of doing so has her worried about how her life will turn out since what is right isn’t so easy.

While her father tries to prepare her for leaving the house so he can turn her room into an Airbnb space, she also finds herself having to deal with his tantrums that only get exacerbated by the troubles she’s going through. Add to this a night with a co-worker that she isn’t sure if she consented to, along with Perry Ackerman, the guy who basically runs the town, hitting on her every chance he gets (to put matters lightly), and Libby finds herself in the depths of despair over what to do. When she takes matters into her own hands, she teeters between regret for what she’s done and how it impacts her life and the feeling of awesomeness that accompanies the revenge she has been aiming to achieve for so long.

The novel does a fantastic job keeping readers on their toes, thinking about what exactly consent means. It also delves quite adeptly into the thought process of a young girl who wants to be taken seriously but doesn’t want to have that happen at the cost of her pride. The way in which she counters Perry’s proposals and deals with the despair she finds herself feeling after a number of inopportune encounters is a testament to Danielle Younge-Ullman’s writing in this book. The beauty of her words and the way the story is presented as one in which Libby is dealing with her past as a way to make it through her present as a means to her future is engaging, purposeful, and realistic. It captures a variety of emotions, from lust to shame, regret, understanding, love, and more. This novel should definitely be added to any to-read list!

You can find ‘He Must Like You’ by Danielle Younge-Ullman here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Thesaurus Has a Secret’ by Anya Glazer Book Review

‘Thesaurus Has a Secret’ by Anya Glazer is a cute story about a dinosaur named Thesaurus. He loves words, but he feels he has to hide this secret because he believes that none of the other dinosaurs would understand. He finds spots where he will not be noticed and where he can read his books. He just wants to fit in, and this is his way of making it happen. Little does he know that the other dinosaurs think nothing of the sort. They are also curious about the stories.

Thesaurus realizes, through his actions, that hiding things isn’t the answer. He should be true to who he is and there will be people (or, in this case, dinosaurs) who accept him. He even finds himself a leader of sorts as a result. The book also presents a nice moral in that it captures the power of getting swept up in the excitement of reading about new and interesting worlds that can pave the path to exciting adventures and discussions throughout life.

A sweet and friendly story, ‘Thesaurus Has a Secret’ has adorable illustrations and a host of book titles filled with dinosaur puns that will make any book lover smile.

You can find ‘Thesaurus Has a Secret’ by Anya Glazer here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘What Goes Up’ by Christine Heppermann Book Review

‘What Goes Up’ by Christine Heppermann is a quick read, as it is a novel-in-verse, a format that can be very enticing not only because of the fast pace it takes, but due to its more intense nature as there are fewer words to convey all of the emotions and stories being told. Even though the engaging format of novels-in-verse is compelling, it seemed like this book could have been longer to help fill the gaps that were left in terms of what is happening in Jorie’s family life and how it has affected who she is and how she sees herself.

When Jorie finds herself waking up in the bed of a stranger, her upset at the situation she has found herself in is obvious. Being broken up with someone that she still has to see and do things with doesn’t make her life any easier as she contemplates the fallout of what she has found herself dealing with in the moment.

It was interesting that there was a lot of scientific talk in the book, but for people who don’t understand all of the jargon, the metaphors that are often used don’t always resonate the way they surely would if they were more relatable to a larger number of readers.

Despite there not being quite enough to make the book feel as “whole” as one might like, there is a lot of room for discussion that can be generated from the textual references, metaphors, and emotional storyline. Jorie is a typical girl dealing with typical issues that are making her feel like life isn’t easy or understandable. Everyone has been through something like this, even if they haven’t acted in quite the way Jorie does in the story. Yet, that is one of the interesting aspects of this book, and books in general. They allow readers to explore the depths of someone else’s life to help make sense of who they as readers are and how the books help define their own character through the eyes of the characters themselves.

You can find ‘What Goes Up’ by Christine Heppermann here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘TBH, Too Much Drama’ by Lisa Greenwald Book Review

‘TBH: Too Much Drama’ by Lisa Greenwald is another one of her creative stories told in text messages, emails, and diary entries. Main characters Cece, Gabby, and Prianka are excited for Spirit Week, for which there is a week-long calendar presented at the beginning of the book. It is a handy way to know the book is staying on track and keeping readers invested in what is on deck for the next event.

Summer break is around the corner and the girls are eager to plan their time together. Somehow, though, in predictable fashion (the book is called ‘TBH, Too Much Drama,’ after all), a secret gets revealed that has Cece wondering just how she’ll escape the embarrassment and torment that she is sure will befall her.

Best friends, games, food, community service, and more make up Spirit Week at Yorkville Middle School. Cece, Gabby, Prianka, Victoria, and some other friends use the week to try to come to terms with the end of the year, what’s coming next, and the secrets that some of them fear will tear them apart. There is plenty of drama to go around, but also plenty of growth, truth, kindness, and compassion from a group of middle school students who often surprise themselves and each other by showing their worries are unfounded and that life can be much simpler if you take the time to just be yourself.

You can find ‘TBH, Too Much Drama’ by Lisa Greenwald here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Neon Nights’ by Katey Taylor Book Review

‘Neon Nights’ by Katey Taylor is an addictive sequel to ‘Inebriated’. Cait has moved to San Diego to live with her mom after her parents’ divorce, and she is doing her best to move on from the harrowing events that closed out her junior year. Haunted by the memory of her friend Steph, she tries to develop a life outside of everything she’s ever known. She begins the year at an alternative high school where she meets Pete. Their friendship quickly develops, and they begin partying together.

Cait’s motivation throughout the story is not really defined too much. Readers don’t quite know what she wants to do with her life after high school ends. However, it is very clear that there are pressures in her life that are causing her to act out, from her parents’ divorce to her mother dating again, to the horrible memories that she can’t help but relive every time she gets behind the wheel. Right or wrong, this is the way she handles things, by drinking and trying drugs, despite having been down on the drugs throughout her previous adventures in ‘Inebriated’.

A couple of guys, both off-limits and seemingly nice, come into the picture as the story goes on, but Cait always finds herself drawn back to Adrien Cross, the lead singer of a band that she loves. Their relationship has ended, yet his online followers still weigh on her life, since she can’t help but read what they have to say about her. When Adrien releases a single that she knows she inspired, she finds herself falling deep into an abyss of overwhelming uncertainty about what her future holds and how she will ever get over Adrien.

When her eighteenth birthday rolls around, life seems to be playing cruel tricks on her, and the events of the day become too much. However, in a turn of events that is predictable, yet engaging, Adrien is brought back into her life when she phones him for help.

Cait and Adrien’s relationship has all sorts of ups and downs. They are right for each other while at the same time being so very wrong. She is constantly in over her head, between alcohol and pills, let alone the fact that she is only eighteen and is supposedly the driving force behind Adrien’s return to sobriety. That is a lot of pressure to put on one individual, especially one so young. She can’t seem to get a grip on her life, which is only exacerbated when she makes a choice to do something with Adrien that reveals to her what kind of life she’s in for if she continues down the relationship path with him.

Deception, aggravation, and constant worry are only a handful of the issues she knows she will have to come to terms with if she stays with him. When he finally realizes that being an adult is what it takes to show her he truly cares, heartache and upset are the only emotions there are to describe how the book concludes. Yet, their relationship reveals larger truths than they know – sometimes life deals harsh blows, and knowing how to deal with them, how to cope and find strength in what happens, is utterly important. It can make or break you, and you can learn some startling truths that are sad and horrible, and they may come at a high cost, but they are essential to character growth.

You can find ‘Neon Nights’ by Katey Taylor here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Layoverland’ by Gabby Noone Book Review

‘Layoverland’ by Gabby Noone, despite being about a teenager who has died, ironically creates a very inviting atmosphere for readers to explore. When Bea is in an accident, she doesn’t expect to find herself in the middle of an airport among other people who have also found themselves in purgatory. However, that is where she is, dealing with the uncertainty of a future that doesn’t even really exist.

After learning that she is going to be working with someone named Sadie to help other people in her same situation move on to heaven, she doesn’t know quite how to react. She’s been chosen to help these people figure out their own issues that are holding them back from moving on, when in fact she has troubles all her own. Namely, she finds out that Caleb, the boy who caused her accident, is one of the people she has to help. Revenge is the first thing on her mind when she finds this out, but she fears what will happen if the powers that be find out her plan. She doesn’t know what might happen to her if it is revealed that she is messing with him in order to ruin his chances at his ever after.

As she learns more about him, though, she finds that he isn’t as bad as she made him out to be, and maybe everything isn’t what it seems. She does everything in her power to keep her mindset against him, however, doing her utmost to avoid anything that might resemble friendliness.

Readers also get to see the moments leading up to Bea’s accident, told through chapters specifically designated for these flashbacks. Her relationship with her sister, Emmy, the only person she really loved and cared for while alive, is well-crafted, and it shows that sometimes someone’s best intentions are not always seen as such. No matter how much Bea loves Emmy, their relationship still is fraught with upset, and Bea’s dying makes it all that much harder for her to deal with what might become of Emmy now that she’s gone forever.

A sweet, poignant look at what the afterlife might look like, ‘Layoverland’ by Gabby Noone entrusts readers to take a chance on the unknown and engage with it. Anyone who reads it will come away with the feeling that every moment is worth living, even the moments that seem inconsequential.

You can find ‘Layoverland’ by Gabby Noone here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Summer and July’ by Paul Mosier Book Review

‘Summer and July’ by Paul Mosier is a beautifully written story perfect for summer reading. Readers will find themselves immersed in the novel, navigating the streets of Santa Monica and the waves of the ocean as Juillet finds her footing, both figuratively and literally. When she moves to California for the month of July with her mom, she is anything but excited about anything positive happening to her. She’s already depressed about her parents’ divorce, her dad’s new girlfriend, the fact that her mom is going to be spending so much time away from her for work, and the fact that her best friend from home, Fern, thinks she’s been ditched. Life is anything but sunshine and happiness, until she meets Summer, the peppy, pretty, kind girl who befriends Juillet and makes her feel more at home than she might have ever felt before.

Set against the backdrop of Beach Boys music and an intense month of learning about oneself, Juillet and Summer show each other each and every day what it means to be a friend. They help each other deal with troubles, some which they have been struggling to conquer. When Summer reveals her own solemn issues, Juillet realizes that however big her own problems seem to be, there is always someone else with something equally, if not more, important that they themselves are dealing with, and everyone is worthy of being heard, cared for, and understood.

No one said life as a tween, or even as a teen, is easy, and Juillet and Summer show that, despite their youth, they are more than capable of raising each other up and learning to grow stronger and prouder of who they are. This is a book readers will find themselves wanting to hold on to and re-read with each passing summer. Shining through every page is a layer of truth that showcases the reality of how fast a friendship can form, how thrilling it can be, and how sad one can realize they are as it’s nearing its end. The book will bring smiles, tears, feelings of comfort, joy, peace, security, and so much more. It is more than worth the read and comes very highly recommended!

You can find ‘Summer and July’ by Paul Mosier here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Pete the Cat’s Family Road Trip’ by Kimberly & James Dean Book Review

‘Pete the Cat’s Family Road Trip’ by Kimberly & James Dean is yet another well-conceived addition to the ‘Pete the Cat’ series. It takes readers on a trip across the country, revealing places such as Niagara Falls, Boston, New York, New Orleans, Mount Rushmore, Los Angeles, and more. The family enjoys being together, visiting the sites, and taking part in the action.

Kids will love learning, even ever so briefly, about each of the places Pete and his family go, likely learning about some new places that they may want to visit themselves. They will understand that being together is one of the best parts of any trip, and anything can be made that much better by being with people who enjoy being with you.

The illustrations are adorable, highlighting each and every site that Pete visits, sometimes even adding something “cat-like” to the pictures to make it stand out all the more. For example, the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls is called the “Cat of the Mist” in this book, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame has Pete’s family visiting stars like those of the Cat in the Hat, Sylvester the Cat, and more.

The sweetness of the book is highly evident in the words and images, and readers will once again be enraptured by Pete and his uniquely enjoyable world.

You can find ‘Pete the Cat’s Family Road Trip’ by Kimberly & James Dean here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Dating Nashville’ by Michelle MacQueen and Ann Maree Craven Book Review

‘Dating Nashville’ by Michelle MacQueen and Ann Maree Craven follows some of the same characters that graced the pages of Macqueen’s and Craven’s ‘Redefining Me’ series. Beckett (Becks) Anderson and Nicky St. Germaine are the two main characters in this novel about finding one’s own truth and coming at it with a vengeance.

When Becks left town a couple of years before to move to Nashville with his friend Nari and her boyfriend Avery, the three friends felt they made the right call. Becks didn’t look back, aside from talking to his sister, Wylder, from time to time. When he returns for a concert he’s performing and shows up at Nicky’s graduation, he feels he is seeing his best friend Avery’s little brother, who also happens to be his friend, grow up. Little does he know that seeing Nicky will awaken feelings in him that he didn’t know he had.

At first it seems like he’s just trying to protect him, being the big brother type. But everything changes when he jumps off stage at his own concert and kisses Nicky smack on the lips to make Nicky’s ex-boyfriend Kenny jealous. Everything turns upside down, including Becks’ music career. Even though he stresses that he isn’t gay and was just trying to help a friend, his label wants to make a big deal out of the relationship, and he goes along with it, enlisting Nicky to play his fake boyfriend. The problem is that Nicky has had a crush on Becks for years, and despite wanting to stay out of the spotlight, he can’t say no to the invitation, even though he can see what the onslaught of paparazzi are capable of doing to his not-so-exciting life.

As Becks and Nicky grow closer, much like they were years before, Nicky starts to feel standoffish. He doesn’t want the public displays of affection that Becks feels he needs to give to the people who are representing him, let alone his fans. Becks, on the other hand, is worried about the way he feels whenever he kisses Nicky. It is unlike anything he’s ever felt with a woman. It makes him question his sexuality and his understanding of who he is. The now topsy-turvy world that Becks and Nicky are in doesn’t make it easy for them to talk and learn about anything together, so they find themselves growing further apart, not wanting to step on each other’s toes, and not wanting to hurt each other any more. Yet, Becks knows one thing for sure – he needs Nicky now, more than ever. Even if life goes back to the way it was, he can’t stop thinking about his old friend, the person he has become, and the person Becks himself feels like when he thinks of Nicky.

A love story through and through, with definite doses of truth-telling, anger, resentment, uncertainty, and even some Secret Service thrown in for good measure, ‘Dating Nashville’ expands the story of a group of friends from small-town Twin Rivers and reveals how truths, no matter how scary, can sometimes be the best way to move forward and learn who you are, why you matter, and what you can do to make sure that you always stay just that way.

You can find ‘Dating Nashville’ by Michelle MacQueen and Ann Maree Craven here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way’ by Lori Haskins Houran Book Review

‘Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way,’ an I Can Read book by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by Gustavo Mazali, is a very interesting, historical look at the life and times of Thomas Edison. The timeline at the end of the story is particularly nice, as it brings everything together and ensures an understanding of when in Edison’s life each event occurred.

Even though most people think of Edison creating the light bulb, he was also responsible for plenty of other inventions. These included a movie camera and a battery for an electric car, among others. It’s always great to go beyond expectations, and Edison clearly shows how he was able to do that for himself, making it evident that others can do the same. One just has to believe in oneself to have the means to begin the path to success. His story is one of faith and encouragement to always strive for more, despite the continued success he was already experiencing.

A great read for young people learning to expand their vocabulary as well as those interested in history and inventions, ‘Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way’ should be added to any developing reader’s bookshelf.

You can find ‘Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way’ by Lori Haskins Houran here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*