Love Defined ... By Leila Tualla

In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do.

Alex Makapulo is facing a crisis of faith.

Raised a Catholic, Alex is considering becoming a member of her best friend Jack Page’s church—against her family’s wishes—but she can’t quite take the final step of baptism. Jack loves Alex and doesn’t understand her hesitation, and Alex wonders if Jack’s love is a blessing or a distraction to test her religious conviction.

Lori Hanson embarks on the trip of a lifetime.

For her twenty-second birthday, Lori’s grandfather presents her with a summer vacation in England. While preparing for her adventure, she meets British musician Colin Watson online and quickly falls for him. They plan to hook up when she lands in London, but her grandfather forbids it. Due to complicated family dynamics, Lori must regretfully comply with his wishes, though she vows never to forgive him.

Andy Taylor is looking for love in all the wrong places.

When Andy runs into an old crush, she decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with sexy Miles Webber. But when she confides in Alex, her friend warns her Miles only wants her for sex. Andy becomes angry and devises a reckless plan to distract Alex’s attention from her relationship. Things don’t go quite as she expected, though, and Andy is left facing a crushing moral dilemma.

As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.


Right from the get go, I knew this was going to be an intriguing YA book. The cover of Love Defined by Leila Tualla, confirms this marvelous contemporary story of three college girls on the brink of discovering their new adult lives in the working world.

Author Tualla sets the stage where we are hooked into some kind of distressing event that is causing a lot of emotional tension between the girls.

Backing up three months to the start, we are introduced to college girls that have been friends for eternity, but even though their personalities are being constantly defined by age and life, friends stick together no matter what.

Three different girls, three different storylines, but uniquely blended together with some of the chapters opening with one of the girl's quotes, directing our attention to the storyline at hand and moving it forward.
I have to admit I loved Alex's story, as she developed strength and maturity in her devotion to God. Her struggles were real, but her faith continued to grow and deepen as her friend's problems spiraled out of hand.

I loved the style of the author's writing, as Love Defined is as true to life as you can get. This is not a sugar coated book, but definitely a Christian story that is probably happening all over the world to young adults and older teens, over and over again. Although, as in real life, we don't know what will happen in the long run with these girls,  Tualla does give us a satisfying ending, knowing that God is faithful and His love endures. As the author reminds us: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13

There must be a sequel to this book!

                                         Amazon Review

The Lady of the Vineyard Kindle Edition ... By Kellyn Roth

Judy has lived with her egocentric mother since her parents divorced when she was a baby. When her father, Troy Kee, shows up at her sixth birthday party and whisks her away to his vineyard in France, Judy is more than happy to go with him. But Adele, Judy’s mother, isn’t quite ready to give up her daughter. Can Judy forgive Adele? More importantly, can Troy?

A sweet novella set in Europe, the year of 1938, this sweet story is sure to delight loves of light-hearted historical/literary fiction.


I have to say you needn't be a history buff to fall in love with The Lady of the Vineyard by Kellyn Roth. The author sets the time period with just enough description to let the reader ease into the story of a six year girl whose life consists of taking care of a mother who really doesn't even care about her own daughter. Adele has made it perfectly clear that Judy is a regret and a bothersome child that was a mistake from her past.

My heart broke for the emotionally drain child, missing her father that had been gone most of her life, having only the love of her dear granny she adored. 

Meeting a mysterious man on the way to pick up some food items, Judy's life suddenly takes quite the turn of events. The flow of the story from this point made it hard to put the book down! Author Roth gives our heartstrings a good "tug" as we discover many misconceptions that have tainted this family. Can forgiveness be attained or has too much time and lost love passed this family by?

A fabulous epilogue that can not be missed puts a finishing touch on to this amazingly sweet story.

                 Amazon Review


                                                    Tell Me ... by Joan Bauer

The unofficial town motto is "Nothing bad ever happens in Rosemont" where  twelve-year-old Anna has come to stay with her grandmother, Mim, hoping to forget her worries about her parents' troubled marriage.  She'll be busy with the town's annual Flower Festival, a celebration with floats and bands that requires weeks of preparations.

But before long, Anna finds herself involved in a very big problem. When she observes a girl her own age who seems to be being held against her will, Anna can't forget the girl's frightened eyes and she is determined to investigate. "When you see something, say something" she's been told—but what good does it do to speak if no one will listen? Luckily, a take-charge girl like Anna is not going to give up.


Tell Me by Joan Bauer is primarily for 5th grade and up, but I have to say the main theme of this book knowing that it is fiction, is a bit over the top with the human trafficking subject. Yes, it's good to warn our kids about this tragic happening, but I think the author put too many troublesome problems in one story. 

Even though the main character was incredibly mature, bold, sweet and along with singing and dancing talent, also able to cope with her parents breakup ... along with working with Homeland Security to help find a kidnaped young girl was just more than expected for the reader to be believable.

It flowed evenly, and even though I love YA books I have to say the author made unbearable events a bit too light hearted. How could such a young girl be able to pull off any or all rescue events?

Might be a great read as long as there is an adult that could answer any questions this book might put in the reader's mind.



                           The Fill-In Boyfriend ... by Kasie West

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable…convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
The problem is that days after prom, she can't stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship?
Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West's talent shines in this tale of one girl's unexpected quest to find love…and possibly herself.

Our Review

How could the unthinkable be absolutely real? The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West opens with every girl's nightmare...being dumped on prom night, standing there alone in the parking lot and knowing you have to face the humiliation of your friends and "frienamies" on one of your biggest nights ever, with the possibilities of being crowned Prom Queen!

I loved the way the author draws you into the reality of young adult life, feeling every emotion that the main character Gia Montgomery is suffering. Out of desperation, Gia connects with the only guy still hanging around the parking lot after dropping his sister off, and wham...the lies begin to fly.  Such a simple act of saving face to her friends turns out to become a surprisingly twisted turn of events that can ruin friendships or possibly start new ones.

Romance has it's ups and downs, and how will Gia deal with her own emotions as she becomes to realize what is important in her life...popularity or being true to herself.

Who knows what we would have done in our days of youth in this situation, but the author truly has her finger on the heartbeat of this generation.

P.S I LIKE YOU ... by Kasie West

Signed, sealed, delivered...

While spacing out in Chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk, and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters -- sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she's kind of falling for this letter writer. Only who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery, and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can't always be spelled out...

Kasie West brings irresistible wit, warmth, and sparkle to this swoon-worthy story of love showing up when you least expect it.



Author Kasie West easily puts us right in the middle of the traumatic daily life that high school student Lily Abbott faces each day, in the young adult book P.S I LIKE YOU.  

Lily and Isabel have a bonding friendship that even boyfriends can't break...or do they? A little unresolved part of their past has been simmering for a few years and though thought to have been put to rest, through mysterious events pops back to the surface and puts their friendship to the test.
I was drawn back to those high school days when social circles dictated how popularity could make you or break you, as family, friends and enemies all played an important part in how Lily puts life into perspective, and untangles her confused emotions.
I found this to be an excellent young adult book, being honest about making mistakes, forgiving and finding that oh so ever "sweet, innocent" love.



                            Genesis ... by Bonnie Berman Shores

An unexpected move, an unexpected love, an unexpected world... Essie has been chosen "for such a time as this".

An aspiring journalist, Essie Jacobs is your average high school senior--a good girl--who loves superheroes, Joan Jett, Whoppers and classic rock. When her mom tells her that they will be moving from Bradford, Massachusetts to the tiny town of Eden, Georgia in two weeks, the normally logical teen freaks out. Her life is mapped out, after all, and it doesn't include a move to some hick town in the South. When the inevitable happens, however, her expectations of a boring summer are pleasantly dashed when she meets Ty Gregory, an irresistibly charming boy from a wealthy family. He immediately takes a liking to her and they become inseparable.

Bored with her routine once school begins, though, the independent Essie decides to get a job at the local nursery where she meets Michael Powers, the boy she had seen in a dream before moving to Eden. She learns that Michael's family and Ty's family do not associate, but neither boy will tell her why. Essie's curious nature takes her to the internet where she stumbles upon information about the Grigori. She's always had a feeling that there was something different about Ty and, when he finally admits that he's a fallen angel, she's anything but scared.


An ordinary teen thrown into extraordinary circumstances...that is exactly what happens to Essie Jacobs when her life takes an unexpected turn her senior year of high school. Residing to the fact she is stuck in Georgia, she quickly gets involved with a handsome, charming and impossible to ignore young man who immediately steals her heart. But there is someone else who has been patiently waiting for her affection.

Wow! What a thrilling, adventurous, exciting, nail-biting ride Bonnie Shores takes you on in her YA novel, genesis. She shows the reader how we as humans can be so easily captivated by the lies and deception of the devil, yet still seeing the truth even if we choose to ignore it. She cleverly introduces each chapter with a song title that gives you a hint of what is to come in the following pages. 

Debra Sue        
The way the characters develop throughout the novel is subtle and well written. I very much enjoy the way Bonnie pulls the reader in and allows you to experience Essie's struggle as she makes her choices between good and evil. I can't wait to read what happens next!