‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft Book Review

‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft follows main character Jordan, a seventh grader who wants to go to an art school, but has his parents end up sending him to an academically-oriented private school. He is one of a few kids of color in his class, and even though he does have someone showing him around and befriending him who is not a student of color, he begins to wonder just how he can best fit in and why the kids who look like him are the ones who seem to not be appreciated as much.

The story does a nice job of having readers question the relationships between characters, no matter their color, and inspires thoughts about inclusion and how to best create instances where that is most possible. He makes a variety of friends as the story goes on, even with some whom he wouldn’t have thought he would ever be friends. The story, as a graphic novel, showcases the themes and issues in a way that only words wouldn’t have been capable of, and this is a definite plus for ‘New Kid’. It is especially neat how the images propel the story along in ways that highlight the importance of the few words that Craft uses in the book.

An interesting and inspiring book, ‘New Kid’ brings humor and honesty to the forefront, as well as a host of other emotions.

You can find ‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Just Jaime’ by Terri Libenson Book Review

‘Just Jaime’ by Terri Libenson captures the truth of middle school – a time when friendships are haunted by worry over whether or not one fits in with the group. This issue plagues Jaime and her best friend, Maya, as they find themselves becoming more and more set apart. Maya begins spending time with a new friend who doesn’t do much to make Jaime feel welcome. She disguises her jabs at Jaime as jokes, but Jaime feels hurt all the same. When Maya stops standing up for her, Jaime feels lost and worries that their friendship is ending, even though they have always loved hanging out together.

It is natural to desire acceptance from others, and Jaime does feel this need, but she comes to realize that one person’s opinion isn’t all-encompassing, and there may just be others out there who won’t treat her poorly. She also comes to realize that there are things about herself that might need changing, as she discovers that her relationship with Maya wasn’t always the best for her either.

As the novel progresses, both Jaime and Maya realize truths about themselves that shape how they plan to move forward with friends and issues about school, as they are ending seventh grade and entering their final year of middle school. Their upset with each other and the way that they miss each other despite not really wanting to are both palpable feelings that the author has crafted for her readers. All readers should be able to identify with the themes of the story, including friendship, lack of understanding, worry, and discovering uncomfortable truths about life and the ways in which it is lived. A fun and enjoyable read, ‘Just Jaime’ is great for both middle school readers and adults who want to step back in time for a short while.

You can find ‘Just Jaime’ by Terri Libenson here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Trouble with Kissing Frogs’ by Seven Steps Book Review

‘The Trouble with Kissing Frogs’ by Seven Steps tells the story of Sophia and Joe, two people who seemingly find love at first sight, only to have it ripped away by lies.

While Sophia never means to hurt Joe, she lies to him about her name in order to spare herself any trouble. When the cat is let out of the bag a year later, Joe is beside himself with anger, letting her know that he doesn’t intend to have anything to do with her. The problem is that they now attend the same school, and Sophia hasn’t been able to get him out of her mind since their first kiss after knowing each other for all of an hour. Joe does a better job of hiding his feelings, not letting on that she meant as much to him as he meant to her.

Despite having decided that they were finished with each other, they end up being in the same play. While Sophia would be happy being behind the scenes, never to even show her face, she is cast opposite Joe in the play, and she finds herself growing close to him once again. Yet, every time they seem to find that the ice between them is thawing, a wrench is thrown into the mix. Couple that with her cousin Quincey being best friends with Joe, and Sophia finds she has a recipe for disaster. Quincey is always saying things in attempts to make her mom suspicious of Sophia’s actions, and Joe is always saying things to Sophia that she can’t help but interpret as flirty. Every time she thinks they’re making progress, something gets in the way, and she wonders if her interest in Joe is truly one-sided, and if his feelings and the way he is acting are all in her mind.

Sophia’s friends help to keep her grounded while her feelings for Joe drive her crazy. Even though she has sworn off boys, she is willing to give in to temptation if Joe chooses to reciprocate her feelings. The problem is that she just can’t read what he’s thinking, and every time they get close, he does something that makes it seem that being together is the worst possible idea.

A fun and engaging novel, ‘The Trouble with Kissing Frogs’ is chock full of friendship, fun, and crushes. Anyone who has read – or plans to read – any of the St. Mary’s Academy series by Seven Steps, of which this is one of the novels, will truly enjoy this story of love, lust, and temptation.

You can find ‘The Trouble with Kissing Frogs’ by Seven Steps here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Tin Men’ by Amalie Jahn Book Review

‘Tin Men’ by Amalie Jahn is the second in her Clay Lion series. The story revolves around Charlie, who learns of his adoption after his father dies. Not knowing what to make of his life, and trying to decipher the truth from the lies he has grown up with, he struggles with who he is and what to do next. By his side are his girlfriend, Brooke, and his sister, Melody, as well as his mom and Brooke’s parents. While he tries to figure out the truth about his father’s death and how his biological mother fits into it all, he uncovers truths that make him wonder what more there might be that he hasn’t yet found.

In his attempts to discover more about himself, he finds the need to use the one trip back in time that everyone is allowed. The problem is that nothing can be changed, or else dire consequences will come into play. Guided by his sister’s insistence and his own dogged determination to learn about his past, he goes against Brooke’s wishes and not only goes back into the past, but finds himself making changes that he didn’t even realize were happening. Of course this throws things off course in ways he could have never imagined, causing a cycle of events to transpire that turn his world even more upside down than he thought it already was.

A gripping story that will take readers on a trip into the past and make them question their own decisions and how life can seemingly turn out differently with one small change, ‘Tin Men’ is yet another wonderfully written story from Amalie Jahn. The first in this series, ‘The Clay Lion,’ sets the stage for ‘Tin Men’. Both novels teach the ever-important lesson of learning to know one’s limits. In ‘Tin Men,’ Charlie is so focused on how to make things better for himself that he doesn’t always consider the consequences of his actions, which can sometimes have unnecessarily harsh consequences if one doesn’t watch out. The story teaches how the power of truth-finding can sometimes weigh more on one’s character than he intends, providing hope and love when only honesty was expected.

You can find ‘Tin Men’ by Amalie Jahn here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘We Thought We Knew It All’ by Michelle Lynn Book Review

‘We Thought We Knew It All’ by Michelle Lynn follows the plot that readers found themselves immersed in when reading ‘We Thought We Were Invincible’. Callie McCoy finds herself back in Gulf City, Florida, dealing with a divorce, three kids, and a secret that she worries will tear everything apart if it is ever discovered. All of this brings her love for and worry about her first love, Jamie Daniels, to the forefront, and through the passing of his father, it also throws her life right back into the center of his.

While Callie tries to figure out who she is and who she wants to be through her writing and her decision to re-open a diner that caters to her mother’s memory, she dives headfirst into a new relationship with her old flame, all while trying to figure out how she, her friends, and her family will cope with the revelation that they all might be more connected than they even know. After all, her first child is nine years old, and she was with both Jamie and her then future husband, Dylan, about ten years ago. Her support network, however, is strong, and despite her struggles with what the truth is or what she wants it to be, she has those she can lean on and know they will be there for her no matter the circumstance.

Jamie, still at odds with Callie, but equally in love with her, misses the girl he left behind, but after ten years of not speaking to each other, it seems that it won’t be so easy to get back into the swing of things. They find their rhythm, though, and through this, they also find their way back to each other. This doesn’t mean hiccups don’t occur or that reality doesn’t get in the way, but ‘We Thought We Knew It All’ definitely enthralls readers with the idea of first loves and how they never truly diminish. Callie and Jamie are (fictional) living proof of this.

A sweet and sentimental story about the power of love, truth, and raw emotion, ‘We Thought We Knew It All’ allows readers to think they have done just that, yet there are still some twists in store that prove that nothing is set in stone. Definitely worth the read, especially after reading ‘We Thought We Were Invincible,’ Michelle Lynn’s preceding novel.

You can find ‘We Thought We Knew It All’ by Michelle Lynn here

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Next to Last Mistake’ by Amalie Jahn Book Review

‘The Next to Last Mistake’ by Amalie Jahn will have readers considering their own lives through a bittersweet lens as they work through feelings of security, happiness, separation, loss, and inequality, among others. Jahn has written a story that will resonate with readers of all ages, as main character Tess navigates the difficult task of uprooting her life due to her father’s reenlistment in the military. While struggling to find a way to come to terms with her eventual separation from being a farm girl in Iowa and sharing her days with best friend Zander, she also wonders about the new life she doesn’t know how she will acclimate to in Fayetteville, North Carolina. However, she finds strength she never knew she had, all while learning more about herself than she had even thought possible.

Tess finds that life sometimes turns out in unexpected ways as she makes the acquaintance of new friends at her new school, including Leonetta, the girl with whom she is partnered to help show her the ropes of her new shcool. She also finds herself facing off once again with the school mean girl, noting that certain types of people and cliques are ever present no matter where one goes in the world. Dealing with life and all of its intricacies through her love of chess, she finds metaphorical connections that shape her into a more well-rounded person.

Learning to cope with her father’s day-to-day military jargon and life, along with the racial biases that she has never had to even think about due to the mostly homogeneous life she led in Iowa, forces her outside of her comfort zone at times. This is not only good for her, but inherently useful for readers, as it will make anyone think about these aspects of life long past reading the last page of the story.

Readers who love feeling right in the thick of it all, as though they can picture the setting and be dropped right into it, will love Jahn’s writing. Whether smiling, gasping, tearing up, or feeling a smattering of all of these emotions, there is something that will make every reader stop and think about how to consider their own lives through Jahn’s vivid words.

You can find ‘The Next to Last Mistake’ by Amalie Jahn here. It will be available for pre-order through its release date on March 19, 2019.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘We Thought We Were Invincible’ by Michelle Lynn Book Review

‘We Thought We Were Invincible’ by Michelle Lynn engages readers with twisting plotlines and searingly romantic scenes. Main characters Callie and Jamie have a lot going on in their lives, from their relationships with their family members, to the losses they’ve sustained in their lives, to the day-to-day issues that plague them as they plod through their senior year of high school in Gulf City, Florida.

Callie, who has never been particularly popular, finds herself thrust into that world, thanks to her twin brother, Colby, who is dating the popular Morgan. Callie and Morgan become fast friends, despite Callie’s wonder at just how that happened when she’s never been noticed before. All the while, Callie finds herself bothered by her old friend, Jamie, with whom she doesn’t get along so well, but to whom she finds herself attracted. Adding to the uncertainty she feels over these feelings is her relationship with Jamie’s brother Jay, whom she considers her best friend and with whom she had a slightly more than platonic relationship before he left for college. It also doesn’t help that both Colby and Jay have made it abundantly clear that they dislike the prospect of Callie and Jamie being together.

In addition to all of their relationship issues, there are also parental troubles, from dealing with the grief over Callie’s mother’s death years before, to Jamie being the black sheep in his father’s eyes, and never being given the chance to prove his worth. There is also mention of higher-level troubles, including the toll that bullying can take on an individual. Even though the individual being bullied – in this case a boy named Matthew – is a part of the story, readers never really get to know that character beyond mentions of him, since his character is not given the spotlight in the book. However, his story is more than adequately told, through the eyes of those who know him, or at least know of him, including his grandfather, who comes into the diner where Callie and Colby work with their Aunt Kat.

Sometimes beautifully endearing and sometimes heart-wrenching, ‘We Thought We Were Invincible’ showcases Lynn’s ability to write purposeful, emotional, lovely words about the way in which young adults cope with life and love. There is never only one answer to anything, and this is a theme in the story as they all focus on making decisions that will shape their lives in ways they never could have imagined.

You can find ‘We Thought We Were Invincible’ by Michelle Lynn here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Secret Lives of Princesses’ by Seven Steps Book Review

‘The Secret Lives of Princesses’ by Seven Steps is yet another enjoyable addition to the St. Mary’s Academy series of books. Main character Jasmine Patel knows what she wants out of life, but she isn’t quite sure how to take charge and make it all happen. Worry envelops her as she wonders how to tell her parents about her desire to be a painter and not a doctor when she grows up, and how to break the same news to Andrew, the guy she likes, when he takes an interest in her. Besides her friends, she doesn’t seem to have much support from the outside world in terms of her aspirations, which flummoxes her since she feels so strongly about those goals.

Enter Oliver Santiago, better known as Ollie, who inspires Jasmine in ways she didn’t know were possible, but irritates her even more. She can’t wrap her head around why he is so ridiculously down on co-winning an art mural contest with her, but she finds herself constantly partnered with him by means of their art teacher. Finding a way to work together allows Jasmine to let her walls down a little bit, but this only causes tension between her and new beau Andrew as she struggles to figure out what she really wants for herself and how to best go about achieving it.

With her friends by her side, she discovers that her parents are closer to divorce than she thought, and when her mother decides to take unexpected interest in her life, everything seems doomed. However, at every point in the story where doom seemed imminent, a bright light always came through, even taking into account Jasmine’s insistence to herself that everything is constantly bound to go wrong.

Despite the fact that the book was quite lengthy and could have likely been pared down quite a bit, there were also a few scenes that could have used some further elaboration. However, the story is interesting and will keep readers invested in finding out what will happen to Jasmine, Ollie, and Andrew, along with Jasmine’s friends and family. A creative take on another Disney classic, ‘The Secret Lives of Princesses’ proves that one’s determination and insistence on achieving one’s goals are paramount to success.

You can find ‘The Secret Lives of Princesses’ by Seven Steps here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘La Petite Josette En Provence’ by Ashley Davidson-Fisher Book Review

‘La Petite Josette En Provence’ by Ashley Davidson-Fisher, illustrated by Martinique Louise Fisher, who so happens to be the author’s daughter, is a nice story for young children. The book clearly shows how much the author loves the French landscape and some of the goings-on in the country. While the story does do more telling than showing through its words, the illustrations enhance the story, adding to the “showing” aspect, and bringing further beauty to the plot.

La Petite Josette and her sister, Anne-Laure, are excited to spend the day with their parents. They plan to have a picnic lunch and visit the sites. From waking up and preparing for the day to getting in the car and seeing everything, on to the trip home, every part of the day is covered. Young children and those who take them on trips will enjoy the family’s adventure and likely want to start planning a day much like it for themselves.

It was a nice touch to write the story in English with some French phrases mixed in to add to the authenticity of La Petite Josette’s visit to the countryside. A charming look into a different place and everything it offers, ‘La Petite Josette En Provence’ will teach readers about the beauty of family through the special relationships they build while visiting interesting places.

You can find ‘La Petite Josette En Provence’ by Ashley Davidson-Fisher here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘In Paris With You’ by Clementine Beauvais Book Review

‘In Paris With You’ by Clementine Beauvais is an interesting story, written in verse. Main characters Eugene and Tatiana find each other once again ten years after their first meeting. That summer a decade ago changed both of them, but the events are threatening to keep them apart in the present. The way they care for each other is still apparent after all of the time that has passed, but they seem to be unable to overcome some of the issues that plague them still from that time in their lives.

The story goes back and forth between present and past, shedding light on the events that transpired and how they affect the new relationship that they both would like to build but are scared to attempt. The poetic narrative is a beautiful way of sharing their story and making the way for their paths to cross again more intriguing. The side characters, including Tatiana’s sister and a boy from their past, help set the story in motion, with the revolving storylines finding ways to connect and solidify what they once knew and what they hope for the future.

Even though the story ends on a somewhat ambiguous note, it leaves room for readers to feel engaged and hopeful for what is likely to come. A sweet story of young love, friendship, upset, and reconciliation, ‘In Paris With You’ captures so many themes in an easy-to-read format.

You can find ‘In Paris With You’ by Clementine Beauvais here (will be available for pre-order until its release date on January 8, 2019).

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*