Love, Life, and the List ... By Kasie West

What do you do when you’ve fallen for your best friend? Funny and romantic, this effervescent story about family, friendship, and finding yourself is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.
Which is where the list comes in.
Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.
But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems . . . and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.


This is going to be the most unusual review that I have ever done...why? Because I'm reviewing Love, Life, and The List by Kasie West without reading the end as of yet...why? on.

Will this story effect you the same as it did me, probably not as we are all in different places in our lives at different times, feeling the ups and downs that befall us. Ms. West  doesn't need to write with a ton of descriptions, as what she does give us through the story plays as a movie in my head with my own visions of the characters.

I absolutely loved the character development which I could easily relate too. (although they are young adult and I am not) My emotions were stirred as Cooper and Abby grew and changed, and how Abby's depth of feelings made her step out to become bolder and stronger and to take her rightful place in the art world. I also could see a new Cooper emerging even though it might not be a better one...we'll see at the end of the book.

I stopped at a particular point in the book (not giving any spoilers) where Abby and her new friend make a plan to claim what she thinks she really wants, to step forward and realize the person she really is and what to do about it.

I myself realized what a new found freedom can come from just looking inside yourself to find the real you (as Abby did with her List) and to see what you are made of. Confusing?  Not really! When I come home tonight after using MY new found freedom and rightful place, I plan to curl up with Love, Life and the List and see how their ending turns out, no matter which way it goes, hoping they will be as happy as I plan mine to be.

So...strange as this review is, this is an amazing read for all ages...full of fun, youthfulness and great insight.

                                        Amazon Review

                                                                  The Siren .. By Kiera Cass

A sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance from Kiera Cass, author of the Selection series.
Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who's everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can't bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?
Originally self-published, The Siren has been completely rewritten and redesigned.


You never know how strong true love is until you've met your soul mate. Kahlen, a beautiful Siren cursed to serve the Ocean, finds love where words are not allowed and relationships are forbidden. She knows living in his world would definitely kill him. What she didn't know was he consequence of living without him.

Debra Sue        
Kiera Cass, author of the Selection Series, has a way of bringing her readers into the story by allowing us to feel the wide range of emotions from the character. We cry with them, endure their sorrow and sometimes even rejoice at the little accomplishments along the way. Siren is a novel that allows us to see love in a mythical fantasy.
                                     Amazon Review

                                            The Golden Locket ... By Aurora Manderville

Rose and her brother Ferdinand receive scholarships to the most prestigious college in the whole country, only to find themselves caught in a strange turn of events.


I was in for a real surprise while reading The Golden Locket by Aurora Manderville. The adventure started out giving me a feeling that I already felt comfortable with the setting of this story without author Manderville  even describing it yet. Loved the simple descriptions of the main characters...Rose with her dark chocolate curls, Ferdinand being "stubborn" as a mule, and best of all Maria, a strong mother determined to see her children make the best of their lives.

As Rose and  Ferdinand accept their letters of entrance to prestigious Tolken University, the tone of the story blossomed before was a different genre then what I was expecting!

As I found out the meaning of the title, the story zipped along in a fast pace, enjoying the flow of the adventure.

A simple, sweet, and clean read book, I could recommend this to middle school level and up. Love to have a sequel to see what happens to the main characters.

                   Amazon Review

Eden on the Frontier by Cheryle Williams
A time of new beginnings brings out the best and worst in any family.

Spring 1772 on the colonial Pennsylvania frontier. Eden Anna Blair, age seventeen, travels with her family of Scots-Irish pioneers via packhorses to search for land near the Forks of the Ohio. A ten-day walk in a long caravan of farmers and traders can test anyone’s mettle.

During the trek, Eden finds friendship with three impressive young men. Daniel and Donovan Briggs are brothers who labor as tree cutters and proudly push a cart of their own tools. Solomon Redding, educated but poor, is headed to a plantation where he’ll tutor a rich family’s sons.

It will be at least a year before Eden is free to marry anyone. As oldest daughter, her family needs her help while they buy land and build a cabin. Eden is confident she can face any hardship but the heady experience of falling in love.


As I was reading Eden on the Frontier by Cheryle Williams I was so thankful that I live in this day and age. Just so there is no misunderstanding about what I'm going to say, I gave this book a whopping 5 star review! Author Cheryle Williams story line was complete with just enough detail to immerse me into the time period of the 1770's, but still keep it fresh as a young adult book, with main character Eden Anna Blair struggling to help support her working class family.

Family loyalty was of the utmost importance, even making this relationship a pivotal point of survival. After extreme decisions were made, family disputes kept arising to hinder the marriage match that was decided upon by the head of the family.

The women of those days were treated as the lower class, but Eden was strong and her faithfulness and work ethics stood out as a shining star, but working class families and rich families knew their places in the order of life which lead to difficulties in getting along and trusting one another. Still, love blooms but at what cost? A wonderful novel that makes you fully understand hardships that we take for granted now days.

                           Amazon Review

                                            World of the Innocent ... by Nadine C. Keels

Jhoi: she’s poetic. She’s guarded. And she couldn’t imagine having much to do with a guy like Marcas. Sure, Marcas is a brilliant fellow artist, admired by plenty of fans. But he’s so remarkably...strange.

Still, Marcas touches Jhoi’s soul. And through the counsel of a shrewd old neighbor, Jhoi will discover a link between intimate friendship and becoming a steward of an era.

A tale of love, enduring belief, and the meaning of innocence—based on a true story.


World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels impacts us with the honest emotions of a young woman transitioning from young girl to womanhood. Jhoi (pronounced Joy) is asking us to sit and listen to her story of how she is learning to manage her newly developed femininity.

Keels has written a lovely, blossoming romantic story between Jhoi and Marcas in a style that I found very comfortable, as if she personally was sitting next to me and sharing a part of her life. Keels gave just enough detail for me to picture what these characters looked like and how they were feeling inside along with their trust in God.

Flirting, discovering awaking feelings with the trending dialogue of young adults unsure of themselves but discovering their way was spot on. Packed with emotions, this was a heartfelt read.

                               Amazon Review

                                  In Case You Missed It ... Sarah Darer Littman

Sammy Wallach has epic plans for the end of junior year over: Sneak out to the city to see her favorite band. Get crush-worthy Jamie Moss to ask her to prom. Rock all exams (APs and driver's).

With a few white lies, some killer flirting, and tons of practice, Sammy's got things covered. That is, until the bank her dad works for is attacked by hacktivists who manage to steal everything in the Wallach family's private cloud, including Sammy's entire digital life. Literally the whole world has access to her emails, texts, photos, and, worst of all, journal.

Life. Is. Over.

Now Sammy's best friends are furious about things she wrote, Jamie thinks she's desperate, and she can barely show her face at school. Plus, her parents know all the rules she broke. But Sammy's not the only one with secrets -- her family has a few of its own that could change everything. And while the truth might set you free, no one said it was going to be painless. Or in Sammy's case, private.


Hoping to find a more developing upbeat flow In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman never really came about. The bickering between daughter Sammy and her mom only escalates throughout the book as dad's business is exposed to hackers then moves on to bursting into their private cloud to reveal everything that was typed on any and all devices in their home.

I did like the idea of diversity of characters, although it felt like they were inserted into the story just as social reminders of how todays prejudice can be used against each other.

As different levels of tragedy unfolds, the story presents many problems that need to be solved within family and friends. I felt dad was never given a clear reason why he did what he did or any workable answer to solve his dilemma. In the end, nothing seemed to mesh together, only the most unimportant event was highlighted. I love Scholastic Books with their young adult themes and I did pick up on the inspirational undertone in this story, but this was a miss for me.

                                     Amazon Review

                                    The Possibility of Now ... by Kim Culbertson

Mara James has always been a perfectionist with a plan. But despite years of overachieving at her elite school, Mara didn't plan on having a total meltdown during her calculus exam. Like a rip-up-the-test-and-get-escorted-out kind of meltdown. And she definitely didn't plan on never wanting to show her face again.
Mara knows she should go back, only she can't bring herself to do it. Because suddenly she doesn't know why she's been overachieving all these years. So Mara tells her mom she wants to go live with her estranged dad in Tahoe. Maybe in a place like Tahoe, where people go to get away from everyday life, and with a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding real life, Mara can figure things out.
Except Tahoe is nothing like she thought it would be. There are awesome new friends and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there are also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara find a balance between the future and the now, or will she miss out on both?


Wow! Talk about the stress you face in school...this poor girl has reached her limit! Mara's total meltdown during her calculus exam is captured on You Tube and her life is changed forever.

The story unravels as Mara decides to take a break from her perfectionist life to visit the dad that she only has a bit of memory of due to her Mom's "let's keep it a secret" attitude. Yes, Mara's family life at home with her brothers and stepdad is great, but she feels a new change of pace and life style is needed to keep her emotions in check. Mom's not crazy about the idea, but agrees to let her go to Tahoe if certain criteria is met.

Once there, Mara tries to figure out how to connect with her dad Trick, a laid back ski bum who lives life as easy as possible. Mara makes do with the living conditions she's given and keeping up school work since she is suppose to go back after her break at Tahoe. Friends are made, and love is in the air...but which guy is going to win her heart as we are kept guessing who is the good guy in all of this. Misunderstandings are sadly made, but eventually the truth comes out about why Trick and Mom have split up.

The ending was very satisfying, tying up loose ends, and revealing shocking truths. This author knows how to spin a Young Adult story, making it as realistic as you can get.

                                                       Amazon Review

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!