‘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*

‘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*