I’ll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones
I don’t know what it says about me, but I’m a total sucker for the whole Romantic Comedy genre. And that is how I’d describe this book, the kind of romance that I love – great characters, a sweet innocent romance and humor galore. Top it off with a heroine who saves dogs, and a positive message and you’ve got a winning recipe.
Teen, Harper O’Malley’s world is just fine, she’s got a fantastic family, great job, and her biggest concern is how to get the boy of her dreams to notice her. When the star of her school’s football team asks her to tutor him, she knows the perfect way he can pay for her services – teach her how to flirt to capture the heart of her love interest. But when a family crisis occurs, her simple life is turned completely upside down.
This is the first novel that I’ve read from Christian YA author Jenny B. Jones and it definitely won’t be the last. I am a big fan of her witty writing style. She masterfully weaves humor, serious family issues and romance together to create a truly entertaining story.
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia Toney
This is actually the second book in Cynthia Toney’s Birdface series, but you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this wonderful YA novel. I actually read this one first but found the characters so intriguing I had to pick up the first book, 8 Notes to a Nobody, to find out more about the characters. I loved that this novel was about a regular girl who faces real issues – misunderstandings with friends, complexities of blended families, difficulties with aging loved ones and complicated feelings of a new relationship. Toney expertly blends all of this around an intriguing family mystery which makes the story even more compelling. This is the kind of book so many parents search for – a thoroughly enjoyable wholesome story with issues that teen readers can relate to.
6 Dates to Disaster by Cynthia Toney
Six Dates to Disaster is the third book in Cynthia Toney’s Bird Face Series. This series follows the life of teen Wendy Robichaud. Wendy is a good kid whose seemingly innocent decisions lead to some trouble in her life. I found her predicament in this novel to be quite relatable. Often teens don’t purposely make bad choices but instead get into trouble as good intentions somehow spiral out of control. In this book Wendy finds herself trying to raise money to visit her beloved elderly friend, Mrs. V. Trying to achieve her goal leads to some problems with friends, relationship, family and school.
Cynthia Toney’s style is always easy to read, enjoyable and flows so easily that I find myself devouring her stories quickly. As with her other books, this novel deals with many everyday challenges that teens might face such as financial difficulties, blended families, issues with dating and friendships, as well as facing consequences for their actions. Readers of the previous books in this series will be happy to know all the wonderful characters from the first two books are back. I don’t know if the author is planning on writing a fourth novel in this series but she left me wondering what happens next and hoping for more.
(Reviews of the other two books in this series, 8 Notes to a Nobody and 3 Things to Forget, can be found under the Middle Grade and Contemporary sections.)
Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk
Rightfully Ours is a novel for older teens about the importance and beauty of chastity. I’ve read a few books by Carolyn Astfalk and thoroughly enjoy her writing style. She is an accomplished Catholic romance writer and has brought her skills to the YA market with Rightfully Ours. This book is full of relatable characters, touching family traumas, and a beautiful love story.
This coming-of-age story about two teens, Paul and Rachel, is set around a family tragedy and an intriguing treasure hunt. Rachel’s parents are quite strict, especially when it comes to the boy she likes, Paul. The fact that Paul has come to live with Rachel’s family for the summer definitely complicates things. The story does a wonderful job of portraying a genuine relationship and all the accompanying feelings and emotions.
Through an engaging story, this book tackles an important topic that teens face in our society—purity and the handling of temptations. While the subject matter might not be right for everyone, I appreciate that the author isn’t afraid to discuss the issue in a very real way by showing modern, Christian teens struggling to make the right decisions.
Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden
Theresa Linden has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She is certainly one of the best Catholic YA authors out there today. Through each of her novels, her writing keeps getting better and better. The series of books that she has written about the West Brothers is simply spell-binding. These novels differ from most series in that each of the books is written from the perspective of different characters. Each book is very unique and great on their own but put the entire collection together and it becomes extraordinary.
Her newest book in this saga of the West family, Anyone But Him, is so fantastic that I know it will be one I will read numerous times. I don’t often re-read books but once in a while, one touches me, and I become so connected with the characters that I must revisit them from time to time. Anyone But Him is that kind of book.
The author has a lot of elements going on in this story – mystery, romance, amnesia, and a pro-life message. How she intertwines and weaves all these pieces together is perfection. There were so many scenes that I read numerous times because they were so captivating.
In this book we are reunited with some of the characters from the West series, but they are now a few years older. Amnesia can sometime be used as convenient tool, but Linden uses her character’s memory loss to slowly reveal the past to us. In this story, the amnesia is a powerful and moving way to bring the love story and the mystery to life.
Bravo Theresa Linden for creating another incredible story.
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
Truth be told, I am a big fan of Christian author Jenny B. Jones. I love her writing style, her engaging characters, and their snappy dialogue. I also have always been a sucker for a great romantic comedy. But what I love the most about this author’s work is the way she includes faith and deeper subject matter within these fun romances.
When Finley Sinclair spends a semester abroad to follow her late brother’s travel journal, she discovers more than she was searching for as she grows close to her host family, the elderly woman she is assigned to visit for a school project, and the egotistical celebrity that is in town filming a movie.
This was such an enjoyable, fast read with a sweet romance and great characters that helped Finley grow throughout the story. (I especially enjoyed the spunky nun.)
While There You’ll Find Me has a lot of fun elements this book also deals with the loss of a family member and eating disorders, both of which are horribly painful difficulties that some young people face. In addition, there was a very powerful storyline about forgiveness that will stick with the reader long after the book is finished.
So, while I’m categorizing this as a romance there is much more to this story.
18 Hours To Us by Krista Noorman
Every once in a while, I love a fun, light-hearted romantic adventure. And that is what I was expecting with this Christian YA novel. But this story turned out to have a few more layers to it.
A senior class road trip on a bus to another state turns into something Natalie never expected when a car accident keeps her from getting on the bus. Instead of riding with her friends and classmates, she makes the 18-hour drive with popular football player Colton Daynes.
The first half of the story was filled with playful banter, touching getting-to-know-you moments, and cool stops along the journey. The second half of the book had a lot more teen drama infused into the story. I’ll be honest. Parts of this book were absolutely delightful. Other parts made me cringe because they pushed the boundaries of what I prefer in clean teen novels.
This book also touched on some serious teen issues – depression, teen suicide, the hookup culture, and bullying. We all wish teens didn’t have to deal with these kinds of things, but in many schools, this is the reality kids face daily. It’s always nice to find a book that can show that these topics exist but offer a positive alternative. This Christian YA novel had two fantastic messages. 1 – Stick to your beliefs. If someone truly likes you, they will respect who you are. 2 – Anyone, no matter what has happened in their past, can change if they really want to.
I would probably recommend this book for older teens, but it depends on what your teens have read and what their schools are like.
Evermore by Jody Hedlund
This is the first book in The Lost Princesses series. This medieval romance is the story of a destroyed kingdom. The beloved King and Queen of Mercia were overtaken and killed by a ruthless neighboring Kingdom but not before their three daughters are all safely hidden away.
Evermore is the story of the oldest princess, Adelaide and her discovery of her hidden identity, what that secret entails, and the fight to help her people. Apparently, there is a prequel novella that sets up the premise of the whole story, but I found it easy enough to understand through this first book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful love story and main characters. This enticing tale is full of battles, mystery, and an intriguing connection to King Solomon and his treasure.
A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano
This novel is a lovely Christian historical romance with a fun treasure hunt. A Rumored Fortune takes place in Somerset, England in 1866, and reminded me of Pride and Prejudice—which is always a good thing. The main character Tressa is a young adult and has recently parted ways with her suitor. While Tressa and her mother are away from their English vineyard estate, they receive the news that Tressa’s father is missing and presumed dead after an accident at sea.
While still dealing with that devastating news, Tressa is shocked to discover that her father was in debt and had not paid his staff and vineyard workers in some time. Rumors of a buried fortune bring treasure hunters, frustrated field hands, and questionable relatives to the estate ready to search for treasure. With the help of the newly hired vineyard manager, Tressa attempts to decipher her father’s notes for clues to the elusive treasure—if it even exists. With so much at risk, Tressa struggles with who actually has her best interest at heart. But she is comforted that there is someone she can always trust—God.
Each chapter begins with excerpts from her father’s notebook on how to cultivate the vineyard. These little snippets were wonderful. While they might very well be great advice for growing grapes, they also were sage words of wisdom for life. I enjoyed how the author paralleled our relationship with God, with the vineyard using John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
There are some wonderful messages in this story about the pitfalls of wealth, not making pre-judgements, and the importance of caring for others.
Desperate Forest by Cece Louise
The action begins quickly in this medieval tale as Princess Roselynn uncovers a sinister plot and must flee for her life. With the realization that she is in danger, she undertakes a desperate journey to reach her fiancée in a neighboring kingdom. Unsure who she can trust, she ventures into the dangerous Eternity Forest to make the journey alone. But when she is caught by a group of outlaws, things really get interesting.
This book has a lot to offer, action, humor, witty dialogue, and a feisty princess who is trying to protect her kingdom. I really enjoyed this clean historical romance with a great lesson of not jumping to conclusions.
Unlike most of the books I review, this book does not have specific Christian elements included in the story. Despite this, it was an enjoyable, clean romance. Joining Roselynn on her journey as she puzzled out the truth was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.
The Truth About Romantic Comedies by Sean C. McMurray
Tim’s life is falling apart. His grandmother is sick, his single mom is overworked, and his girlfriend just broke his heart—over text. But when he meets the quirky Rachel, things begin to look up. Ready to find something to keep his mind off his problems, he’s happy to help Rachel on her mission to test romantic comedy cliches. But, just as things start to get interesting with this new relationship, Rachel reveals some bad news. Despite this new complication and her faith that he doesn’t quite understand, Tim remains determined to get to know this intriguing girl.
This book was a surprise. There were so many things that I enjoyed. The poignant moments amid the light-hearted story. The witty dialog. The faith aspects. And the interesting main characters—especially Tim, who was such a solid guy, despite some tough blows in his young life. The relationship between Tim and his grandmother was especially sweet.
The middle dragged just a bit, but the storyline kept me turning the pages. Overall, this book has a lot more depth than I first assumed. There were some really powerful messages about teen relationships, family bonds, and forgiveness. The truth about this romantic comedy is that it was very enjoyable.
One Night with a Rock Star by Chana Keefer
I’d heard many good things about this book, so I was anxious to start reading it. Although, to be honest, I had some mixed feelings about this one. Strangely, I went from adoring it to being completely frustrated, from thinking a scene was totally unrealistic to rereading sections multiple times because I loved the way they made me feel.
This story is about Esther, a college student who has a chance encounter with her favorite rock star. That one night changes her forever. As readers, we travel with Esther for the remaining two years of college as she struggles with her emotions and thoughts of the future, unable to get that evening out of her heart and mind.
The story begins with modern-day Esther, now an adult, retelling the story. While the bulk of the book is set in the late 1980s, it doesn’t feel dated and is very relevant to modern teens. The middle felt a little slow, and some parts seemed unnecessary, but because it is a bit of a memoir, maybe those sections were important for the character arc.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is filled with touching moments, romance, heartache, humor, and self-discovery. I especially liked the message that by living out our faith in an authentic way, we can truly affect and influence another person. Our actions and words can completely change someone, ultimately leading them to Christ.
Loving Gabriel by T.M. Gaouette
Loving Gabriel is the fourth and final book in T.M. Gaouette’s Faith and Kung Fu Series. What an enjoyable ride it has been! If you’re unfamiliar, the four books in this series center around Gabriel—a devoted son, faithful Christian, and Kung Fu champion, and Tanner Rose—the Hollywood starlet that changes Gabriel’s life forever.
This author’s strength is her ability to create memorable characters and heartfelt storylines. I’ve loved witnessing the growth in all her characters throughout the years—especially Tanner’s faith journey and her developing relationship with Gabriel. This contemporary series is full of intriguing supporting characters and situations that stay with you long after the book is finished.
Loving Gabriel takes place a few years after the events in book number three, Guarding Aaron. Reuniting with these characters was like catching up with old friends. Has Tanner been successful in her endeavor to produce Christian movies? Did Gabriel discern where God is leading him? What about all their friends and family that we’ve come to care about? I don’t want to give anything away, so will just say that all questions will be answered, and even though things might not go quite as expected, I think fans will find this to be the perfect conclusion to this fantastic series.