Destination Unknown by Amy Clipston Book Review

I read this book last summer and loved it just as much as the first book in this trilogy. Destination Unknown is the second book in the Roadside Assistance trilogy and follows the story of Whitney, Emily’s cousin. I loved it and can’t wait to give you guys a short review on it!

Synopsis:

It’s senior year, and Whitney Richards is tired of the constant pressures to be perfect. When she gets a D in Calculus, her mother immediately hires a tutor, worried Whitney won’t get into the “right” college—her alma mater—with imperfect grades. Her tutor, Taylor, is a quiet, mysterious boy who is unlike anyone Whitney has met before. But Taylor’s rougher upbringing has her mother and friends discouraging any type of relationship.

Tired of having to play a part for everyone else, Whitney quits the cheerleading squad that once defined her social identity, and begins spending more time with Taylor. Her mom and friends worry Whitney is making a huge mistake, and even Taylor begins to show concern for some of her choices. But for the first time, Whitney is in the driver’s seat of her life. Will she be able to find her identity—and God’s plan for her life—before she throws everything away?

My Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 stars

I loved this a lot! It was the best to visit all of these characters again, especially getting to see Zander and Emily again. *heart eyes*

I really loved Whitney’s story. She was super relatable for me and her struggles to figure out who she truly is instead of who everyone tells her she is something I think a lot of teens can relate to. I didn’t like her a whole lot in the first book but after getting her own story, I really like her!
Taylor was amazing too. I loved him and his family, especially Vanessa. Plus he’s a reader soo that makes him even better!

Whitney’s mom drove me crazy most of the book and Whitney did too… but you gotta love these dysfunctional people! 😂

Anyways, I loved, loved, LOVED it! It gets 5 huge stars and more. I can’t wait to read the next one!!!

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a fun, clean YA contemporary that has a love story and deals with family relationships, this one is so, so good!

I know this review is much shorter than my usual reviews but the long and the short of it is— I love this book and recommend this trilogy! I plan to reread it someday soon, and when I do, I plan to update this review with more details!

❤️Emma

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston Book Review

Hey, bookish friends! Today I’ve got another book review for you. Lately I’ve been enjoying YA contemporaries so I thought I’d finally give my review for my absolute favorite YA contemporary— Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston!

This book is amazing! I read it last August and fell love with it. The entire trilogy is awesome. In fact I’ve got a review of the entire trilogy right here on my blog but I decided to leave my review for each individual book. They definitely deserve it!

I wrote this review right after I finished the book so my feelings and thoughts for it were fresh.

Synopsis:

Emily Curtis is used to dealing with her problems while under the hood of an old Chevy, but when her mom dies, Emily’s world seems shaken beyond repair. Driven from home by hospital bills they can’t pay, Emily and her dad move in with his wealthy sister, who intends to make her niece more feminine—in other words, just like Whitney, Emily’s perfect cousin. But when Emily hears the engine of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, and sees the cute gearhead, Zander, next door, things seem to be looking up. But even working alongside Zander can’t completely fix the hole in Emily’s life. Ever since her mom died, Emily hasn’t been able to pray, and no one—not even Zander—seems to understand. But sometimes the help you need can come from the person you least expect.

My Review:

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 stars

I loved this book more than I ever thought I would. I finished it in a day and that rarely happens with me. There’s so much I loved about it. Honestly, it was the book I needed at the moment and those always are so special to me.

I related to Emily on so many different levels. She was one of those characters that I feel kindred spirits with. She’s a big introvert, she’s different from other girls her age, and she has her insecurities. She’s not perfect. She has her doubts and her struggles. She feels misunderstood, like no one “gets her”. She feels like a misfit and unknown. Sometimes she just needs her time alone to sort things out and realize how she’s feeling. And I felt that a lot! My heart went out to her and I sympathized her so much because I honestly can’t imagine what that would be like to go what she went through. I just really liked that Emily isn’t perfect but she’s flawed. It was feels so good to be able to relate!

The side characters really captured my heart too— Zander was such a great guy. Plus I really like his name!. At the surface you think he’s just one of those popular guys but he’s so much more than that. He was so sweet. Chelsea was such a fun, caring character and a really good friend. She reached out to Emily and really went out of her way to show how much she cared. Whitney was a character that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like at the beginning but as the story progressed, I really started to like her and see her in a different light. She became one of my favorites!

There’s a lot of aspects to the story that I liked a whole lot. Zander and Emily’s love story was my favorite kind, best friends to falling in love. 🙂 Their relationship was so good. It wasn’t shallow but was meaningful while also really fun. I also really like that the romance isn’t what the entire story revolves around. There’s a lot more to it. It’s the perfect balance.

For me, this was just the story I needed right now. Just a story about a seventeen year old girl trying to find her way in the world and figure out what it’s all about. Being a teenager can be really confusing and hard at times and this story really captures that. I could relate in so many ways and the whole message really touched me in a way I didn’t know it would. God is there even when we don’t realize it or feel His presence. “There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams is a really good song for this book.

This story really impacted and inspired me. It also made me think a lot. I teared up not just once but many, many times in this book because a lot of stuff hit me. But, I also found myself smiling and snickering a lot too. I think it’s just really cool how you never know which books will speak to you. You never know whenever you pick up a book that it might just be something in it that will touch you. You may read a dozen or more books and not feel or think much about it but then you’ll randomly pick up a book and it’ll become special to you because it spoke to you in that time in your life. And one book might touch one person but another person won’t think anything about it. We’re all on our own journeys, facing different things, on different walks of life. I just find it neat. 🙂

Anyways, I’ve rambled long enough!! I loved this book and I wanted to document these late night thoughts before I forget them. I also want to remember how I connected with this book!

I recommend this book completely, especially to teen girls!!! It’s clean and inspiring. We need more books like this in the Christian YA genre. 🙂

Conclusion:

I read this trilogy a year ago and I still think about it so often. The characters and story have really stuck with me.

One of the reasons I love writing book reviews is because I love looking back at them every now and then just so I can remember how I felt the first time I read the book, and what stood out to me. That’s why so many of my reviews include my fangirl gushing. I love remembering those feelings. Ya know, my blog is a lot like my bookish diary! 😂

Thanks for taking time to stop by! I hope you enjoyed your visit. And I hope I inspired you to read this book! It’s an absolute favorite of mine.

I hope you have a great day, friends!

❤️ Emma

Clean YA Books for Teens

Hey guys! I did a clean book series recommendations post a while ago but I decided I would do a list of the clean, stand-alone YA novels I’ve read.

I want to give this disclaimer before I recommend these books. I understand and respect that everyone’s standards for a clean book are different. If ever you read a book that I’ve recommended and it makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t meet your standards in any way, please don’t read the book. 😊 Everyone’s idea of clean is different.

With that out of the way, let’s get into these books! ☺️

Contemporary

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston

I loved this book so much! It’s the perfect YA contemporary in my opinion. I loved the characters and the story. Not only did it make me feel a lot of emotions ( I cried!), I also learned a lot from it. Some things hit home for me. I read it at the perfect time in my life so it’ll always be one of my favorites. The rest of the series is also amazing so check it out!

Dandelion Dust by Faith L. Potts

This novella is so bittersweet! It’s sad yet filled with a lot of hope, too. If you’re looking for a contemporary that will make you cry, this one is really good!

Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum

I love Erynn Mangum’s books because they make me laugh every time! Snort, laugh, snicker… all of it. This one was fun because it had a mystery going on.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (and others)

Kasie West has written lots of contemporary YA, and so far I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve read. They do have some kisses but nothing beyond that. Sometimes there will be a word I don’t like, or the kiss will be too detailed for my taste but overall, they are clean. They are fun, light books that would be perfect for summer. My favorites are P.S. I Like You and On the Fence.

Starring Me by Krista McGee

This book was really fun! It follows a teen girl who is an aspiring actress, and she’s hilarious! My favorite books by Krista McGee is the Anomaly series, an awesome dystopian series. But this one was fun as a stand-alone read!

There You’ll Find me by Jenny B. Jones

I recently read this book after watching the trailer for the movie that’s coming out, and I ended up really, really liking it! It hits deeper than most YA books do, dealing with mental illness, loss, and grief. Although it’s emotional, it also has it’s funny/ cute moments!

Historical Fiction

Chasing Jupiter and interrupted by Rachel Coker

I absolutely love these books by Rachel Coker! They’re clean, and make me feel all of the emotions! Interrupted is set around the 1940s while Chasing Jupiter is set around the 60s. Both of these books made me cry, and laugh. I loved them! Both are very clean.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

This book was so interesting! It’s not about an actual witch, a misconception I had. It was set during the time of the pilgrims and puritans which I found so neat. I really, really enjoyed it!

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

This book broke my heart in half yet I loved it so much! I cried like a baby and smiled at the same time. The writing was just beautiful. I loved it so much! I still want to cry just thinking about it.

Fantasy and Fairytales

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Before I read this book, I knew little about the Romanov family. I learned so much through this book, and it prompted me to read more about the Romanov’s story. The whole story is heartbreaking. But although I thought I was going to be left devastated and depressed, I wasn’t. I was left with so much inspiration and hope. It’s a must read if you want a fantasy that weaves history into it. I loved it!

Dust by Kara Swanson

This book was just beautiful! I loved it soo much. It’s whimsical and magical. It’s sprinkled in pixie dust. It made me a bit obsessed with Peter Pan for a while. And the sequel that comes out this July is just as brilliant! Both are amazing! Read it!

The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier

This is the beginning to an amazing fairytale retelling series. I recommend these books over and over not only because they’re awesome but because they are clean. Every single one was incredible!

The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

Melanie Dickerson is an author I recommend so often because she keeps her romances clean. The Hagenheim series is soo good. The Healer’s Apprentice is the first book in the series, and I love it!

Classics

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

I love this book so much! It was set and written during the early 1900s. The story and characters are so memorable. I love the little town of Deep Valley. It was just so fun to read about!

Little Women and An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

I know classic books are obviously always on the clean books for young adults but this list would never be complete without Little Women and An Old Fashioned Girl. Both are about teenagers so even though they’re set in the mid-1800s, they’re relatable.

Anne of Green Gables and Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

Any book by L.M. Montgomery is going to be amazing, and great for teens. I read the Anne series first at 13, and I fell in love with it. It only gets better the more I reread it!

I’m sure I will find more clean YA books eventually. When I do, I’ll make a new post!

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I hope you have a great start to your week. Happy Monday!

❤️Emma

Shadow by Kara Swanson Book Review

Y’all, I have waited for this book for what seems like FOREVER… and it was so, so hard! Well, I can confidently say, it was SO worth the wait!

First of all, I want to give a huge thank you to Kara Swanson for sending my an ARC of this beautiful book. She was so kind, and completely made my day! So thanks to her, I’m here to give you an early review! 😊

Note: Before reading the synopsis, you’ll want to read Dust first so you won’t be spoiled.

Synopsis:

Peter Pan has crash-landed back on Neverland. But this is not the island he remembers.

Desperate to rescue Claire and the fractured Lost Boys, Peter must unravel what truly tore his dreamland apart. But with each step, he is haunted by more of his own broken memories. Not even Pan himself is what he seems.

Claire Kenton is chained to a pirate ship, watching the wreckage of Neverland rocked by tempests. When she finally finds her brother, Connor is every bit as shattered as the island. Claire may have pixie dust flowing in her veins—but the light of Neverland is flickering dangerously close to going out forever.

To rescue Neverland from the inescapable shadow, the boy who never grew up and the girl who grew up too fast will have to sacrifice the only thing they have left: each other.

My Review:

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was immediately immersed back into this world of mermaids, pixies, pirates, and Lost Boys— and it was wonderful.

The writing is stunning. GOODNESS. I absolutely love it. The descriptions are so colorful. I truly felt like I was in Neverland. It’s purely magical, and sprinkled with pixie dust. The way it’s written evokes so much emotion in me! It’s truly beautiful.

There’s so much imagination and thought given into each and every detail making it brilliant. So many things just sparked my imagination and the childhood wonder inside me!

The characters. OH my stars I love these character SO blooming much (as Peter would say. I’m telling you, I’ll probably be talking like Peter for a week!)

I have SO much love for Claire and Peter. These two are literally two character who have wholly taken my heart. They’re so real to me. They feel like friends. Goodness, someone take me to Neverland please!!!

Peter. I’m so stinkin proud of Peter. I love him so, so much. He grew so much. His character arc is one of the best I’ve ever read. It takes time for him to grow in a realistic way, and it made him so amazing. He’s hilarious. I love the way he talks. Goodness. I laughed so much at him. He’s just so great. AHH!

Claire was amazing. I love her so much. She has struggled and she has overcome. Her character is so beautiful. I want to be her friend and give her a hug.

Lily was incredible and the Lost Boys have my heart.

Conner was such an interesting, heartbreaking character. Same with Paige. I never liked her but I did find her interesting.

Peter and Claire *squeals, fangirls, grins like mad, tries to calm down* Ok, so these two are the best. I love them SO much. I shipped them in Dust, I shipped them in Shadow, I ship them FOREVA. They make my heart so happy. Their love story makes me wanna cry and smile and AHH, these two!!! Y’all!!! Pretty sure every love song I listen to in the next month will be about Peter and Claire. A Lost Boy and a Pixie Girl!! My heart!!

SO much happened in this book. It was an emotional rollercoaster. Twists and turns. I never knew what was gonna happen and it was epic.

The messages and themes in this book almost brought me to tears. It was beautiful. The light, the Hope, the beauty!

It reminded me that we can’t escape reality. We have to face it. We have to face our shadows. And when we do, we realize there is Light and Hope to be found. Not in ourselves but in One far greater. I find that in God and this book really made that hit home for me. For that, I’m so grateful.

This book was magical and beautiful, filled with light and hope. Yes, there were some dark times but in the end, the light shines all the brighter for it.

This reimagining of Peter Pan was absolutely incredible. I so highly recommend both Dust and Shadow! As I rarely read fantasy and am quite picky when it comes to it, these books swept me off my feet and reminded me that I do love fantasy.

I will now be dreaming of Neverland, Peter Pan, Claire, and the Lost Boys for a month or so. Not a bad daydream for this summer. The perfect one.☺️

*Thanks again to Kara Swanson for providing me with an ARC in exchange a review. All opinions are my own. 😊

Dust by Kara Swanson Book Review

I read and reviewed Dust by Kara Swanson on Goodreads back in October but for some reason I never reviewed it on my blog. Since I will be reviewing the sequel, Shadow, soon I thought I would review this amazing Peter Pan reimagining that ended up being one of my top favorite books of 2020!

Synopsis:

The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale.

Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real–since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London… and a boy who shouldn’t exist.

Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.

The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan–and herself.

My Review:

Note: I wrote this review back in October so I was quite upset and anxious for the second book. Fortunately, July is much closer now!😉

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“You were created for more than to bear the weight of your shadows— but you have to choose to no longer let them define you. You have to choose to let the light shine through the shattered pieces.”

Oh. My. Goodness. This book was everything I wanted it to be, and so much more.

This whole book just felt sprinkled in pixie dust. Everything about it was whimsical and utterly beautiful! It’s just left me in a Peter Pan/ Neverland daydream and I love it so entirely.

The characters in this story were absolutely wonderful.
From the very start, I related soo hard to Claire because she’s a major introvert but she also has that side that she reserves for those she cares about. She was such a complex, beautiful character and I loved her and seeing her grow.
Peter blew me away. I was very curious to see how the author would pull off writing about a character like him. But she nailed it. I LOVED him (even though, yes, I wanted to shake him half the time)
I’ve never fully read the classic Peter Pan but I have seen the movie. I remember that I never really understood him, even if I did really like the story.
I love, LOVE how she crafted him. She made him everything we know about Peter Pan… childish, reckless, irresponsible, cocky, and careless. But she also tells us WHY he’s that way. I just really loved that she gave him a back story. It helped me understand him and see him in a way I never imagined. Also, seeing him as a nineteen year old was definitely interesting. And seeing him grow and change throughout the book was the best thing ever. He’s not quite there yet… but BOOK 2!!!!!!!
Tiger Lily was wonderful in so many ways. I also liked Officer Darling.
The villains were complete villains.

There’s so many other little things I love so much. The whole “Pixie-Girl” thing and the dancing with the pixies heart melts. The magic was beautifully done. The character-development was brilliant. Peter and Claire made me smile soo much.❤️ I could go on and on.

My only complaint? (Not really a complaint, just an impatient fangirl rant) THE CLIFFHANGER. BOOK 2 CANNOT GET HERE QUICK ENOUGH. Uhhhhhh I’m not okay. How can I wait until July??!?!? I don’t know. But I will be VERY anxiously waiting until then.

So to sum it up? This book was a whimsical, magical, golden work of art and went straight to my favorites. There are soo many beautiful quotes in here. I even got teared up because some of it really hit home. The beauty of this book goes beyond the cover.
Kara Swanson’s writing is soo beautiful and whimsical. Oh my goodness. I loved it so very much.

I really, really can’t wait until the next book. I need more of these characters ASAP. 🙂

Castle of Refuge by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

Hey, friends! Today I’m reviewing Melanie Dickerson’s upcoming release for next month, Castle of Refuge. It’s the second book in her series, The Dericott Tales.

Synopsis:

To live an unforgettable life, she would defy all expectations—including her own.

Ever since she was a child, Audrey wanted her life to be extraordinary. But as the daughter of a viscount born in late fourteenth-century England, the only thing expected of her was to marry—until an act of malice by her sister, Maris, four years ago damaged her prospects even further. Though Maris was sent away, twenty-year-old Audrey is still suffering the scars of her sister’s cruelty. So when her father announces his plans to marry off his damaged daughter and bring Maris back home, Audrey decides to flee in search of her true destiny.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, sick, and in dire straits. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier and bears scars of his own.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, each must make a life-changing decision about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

My Review:

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Castle of Refuge was quite exciting. It did take me a little while to get into it but once the action began, it was hard to put down.

It’s a story of two scarred people finding each other and loving each other, scars and all. I find that particular storyline so beautiful!

I immediately felt so much sympathy for Audrey. I can’t imagine being so mistreated by someone who is suppose to be your role model and best friend. Throughout the book we see Audrey deal with the insecurities and scars her sister has caused her. She was such a sweet girl and I wanted only a happy ending for her!

I also felt sympathy for Edwin. We saw him lose his arm in the first book and in this book we watch him deal with the affects of only having one arm. While I felt for him, I also admired him.

Watching these two come together was very sweet. I loved that it was slow-burn and clean.

I really enjoy the faith content included. And again, I appreciate the cleanness of the romance!

There were some pretty intense scenes and suspense towards the end that kept me flipping pages. Overall, I liked this second book in the series! While I’m not loving it as much as I did the Hagenheim series (insert heart eyes!), it’s still good.

If you’re a fan of YA historical love stories, I think you would enjoy this!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Searching For Normal by C.J. Darlington Book Review

Synopsis:

Six months ago Shay Mitchell’s life changed forever. Now she’s just trying to survive school bullies, drama class, and living with her Aunt Laura above the bookstore. No one, not even her new friends, knows her real story or the reason she’s living with her aunt in the first place.

When Shay learns the truth about her biological father, she jumps at the chance to meet him. This could be her chance! Maybe she’ll finally find the normal life she’s longed for―a life where she feels loved and wanted―you know, part of a real family.

This is the second book in a series that travels alongside four friends as they deal with teen life in Riverbend, Indiana. The novel inspires girls and young women to deepen their relationships with God and solve their problems in God-honoring ways.

My Review

This is the second book in the Riverbend Friends series told by various authors. Searching For Normal follows Shay’s story.

I liked this second book in the series, mainly because I like the characters a lot!
I really liked Shay’s character, and really liked getting inside her head. In REAL, NOT PERFECT, we didn’t know much about her which intrigued me. I could relate to her in a lot of ways. She’s the quiet, introverted girl of her friend group which I strongly relate to. Her struggles with everything felt authentic and real, and I really sympathized with her. I loved that she was a bookworm and liked that she wasn’t obsessed with boys. A unique quality in this genre!
I liked Tessa even more in this book. It was neat seeing her from someone else’s POV after being in her head in the first
book. It was like I knew the behind the scenes of her life, but seeing her from Shay’s perspective was cool.
I love Izzy, she’s awesome! I can’t wait for her story. And although Amelia still isn’t my favorite, I’m excited for her
story.
The bullies and her Grams were pretty infuriating. But I liked her aunt a lot! Oh, and the greyhound Stanley, of course.

Like the first book, I liked that this book focused on friendships rather than relationships with a boy. It’s a unique
and nice change from typical YA contemporaries.
I liked watching the girls grow closer and open up. And I love how supportive they are of one another. But
they’re not altogether perfect. They’re a fun friend group for sure!

The struggles Shay faces with her faith, particularly not understanding why things happened the way they did, was really relatable. And the feelings of shame she felt at admitting her anger and frustration was something I could identify with.

Also, how cool would it be to live above a bookstore? And your aunt owns it? You can basically get a book anytime you want one… awesomeee. Also being around for author signings and all that stuff. I wouldn’t choose to because I’m not a city girl but it still sounded like a booklovers dream!

I actually teared up a few times, especially at the ending. It was bittersweet.

The content was very clean. No romance or language at all. If a character cursed, the word wasn’t said.

Overall, this was a very quick read which I liked! It focused on a lot of relatable topics, especially for highschoolers
and Christian teens. It deals with being bullied, struggling with school classes, and being open to friendship.
It talks about Shay’s struggles with her relationship with God, her questions and confusion in a real way.

Searching For Normal releases April 6.

I’m looking forward to Izzy’s story in the next in this series!

*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Real, Not Perfect by Stephanie Coleman Book Review

Synopsis:

Real, Not Perfect is the first book in a series that travels alongside four friends as they deal with teen life in Riverbend, Indiana. The novel inspires girls and young women to deepen their relationships with God and solve their problems in God-honoring ways. 

Tessa has lived a trouble-free life as the only child of two loving parents―she is well-liked, gets straight As, is on the competitive swim team, and is active in her church youth group. It’s a pretty perfect life! That is, until she comes home from swim practice one day to find that her parents are divorcing. Along with that, her BFF has moved to Florida, and Tessa gets stuck in Intro to Drama―possibly the worst class ever!

Soon Tessa’s mom sinks into despair and Tessa struggles with her anger and hurt. Meanwhile, her BFF posts fabulous pictures of her new life on Instagram. Tessa thinks that everyone’s posts show lives that are way better than the one she has. Why does it seem like everyone else’s life is more perfect than hers? Find out how Tessa’s new friends from Intro to Drama and Alex, her true-blue friend, help her discover that real is better than perfect.

My Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 4 out of 5 stars

I was so excited when I saw this new Christian YA series was being released! I feel like there’s not a whole lot of YA contemporaries on the Christian fiction market which is a shame since I love them!

After Tessa finds out her parents are separating, she feels like the nearly perfect life she’s always known is starting to crumble. On top of her parents divorce, her best friend moved away, she’s stuck in a drama class she didn’t sign up for, and the boy she likes sees her as just a friend. While her mom sinks into heartache, Tessa deals with her anger and hurt. She hides her emotions behind smiles and “I’m fine” but inside, she feels anything but fine. There’s only so much pretending she can do. What if she could embrace that being real is so much better than being perfect?

I really liked this book. While it is sad, it also has it’s light moments that made me laugh and smile. I really liked Tessa and found her relatable in so many ways. Her struggle with opening up to people and stop pretending that she’s okay is something I could especially relate to. As for side characters, I really liked Izzy, Shay, and Alex, especially Izzy. I’m so excited for her story! As for Amelia, I think she’ll grow on me. 🙂

I really enjoyed seeing Tessa’s friendship with Izzy, Shay, and Amelia grow. It reminded me that sometimes we’re put in situations we don’t like but a lot of good can come from it, like valuable friendships that can change our life for the better. They were a fun group and I’m so happy they each get their own story! I also really liked watching her relationship with her mom. I was getting all teared up several times at the touching parts.

This book really shows just how social media can affect you. It’s so easy to forget that people are posting the highlights of their life. You don’t always see the side of their lives that’s less than perfect. You only get a small glimpse but it can make you feel like your life isn’t as great as everyone else’s. So much connection yet it can make you feel even more lonely. I think this is something soo many teens can relate to. I know I could! Tessa’s struggle with this was very realistically done. I felt her struggle.

It also touches on some tough topics like divorce and someone you love dealing with mental illness. While this made it a sadder book, it also makes it real and relatable for a lot of people.

Tessa’s struggles with her relationship with God was authentic and relatable. Her hurt and anger along with her struggle to forgive was very real and I felt it. I teared up multiple times throughout this book, something I didn’t expect to happen.

The content is clean is clean in my opinion. There isn’t very much romance besides a crush and talk of liking boys. The reason for her parents separation was uncomfortable and made me really sad. I don’t like to think that it happens but the truth is, it does. *MINOR SPOILER* It also talks about one of Tessa’s friends dealing with mental illness. This might be triggering to some. It made me want to reach out to people more and show them I care, not to always assume everything is always okay.

Overall, I really liked this book! I really liked the characters, and I’m so looking forward to the other girls’ stories! If you’ve ever dealt with the struggle to forgive when someone you love hurts you or felt the pressure to act like you’re okay when you’re really not, I think you can relate to this story. If you’ve went through friendship complications or feeling the loneliness of social media, you’ll understand Tessa’s struggles.

Real, Not Perfect will be releasing on April 6th.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

❤️Emma

Clean Book Series for Christian Teen Girls

I’ve been wanting to do this post since I started my blog. Finding clean book series can definitely be a challenge. There was a point a few years ago where I didn’t know how to find clean books and I was lost at what to read. I wanted a good book that kept my interest but wasn’t filled with a lot of stuff I didn’t want anything unclean. Eventually, I found a few resources I use and since, I have found soo many amazing books!! I’ll share a few of the places I find clean books…

A few resources I use to find clean books…

One of my favorite blogs/ resources to find clean books is https://booksforchristiangirls.blogspot.com/?m=1 ! Lindsey is a blessing!! I’m not exaggerating. She has helped me find so many great, clean books that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. She has reviewed tons of books and given content warnings and ratings for ages 9-19. It’s SO helpful! She also has a YouTube channel I enjoy watching, so check her out!

I’ve also joined Bookstagram (bookish Instagram) and Goodreads. I’ve made so many friends (who love books as much I do!) and found some clean books through them! It’s been so much fun! I watch BookTube (book channels on YouTube) sometimes as well. Some of my favorites are Celestria, OceanaGottaReadEmAll, and Jenna Van Mourik.

What is “clean” to me…

I believe what’s considered “clean” means something different to everyone. For that reason, I’m sometimes hesitant to give out recommendations because I would never want to recommend a book and someone read it and it make them uncomfortable, ya know what I mean? But here I’ll give a quick example of what I consider clean…

In order for me to consider a book clean, the romance must not go beyond kissing. And even then, I prefer it to not be very detailed. There shouldn’t be any cursing or profanity.

So most of the teen books I’ll be recommending do have some kisses but nothing more. And no curse words or profanity.

But I urge you, if ever you read a book I’ve recommended and it makes you at all uncomfortable in any way, please don’t feel like you should finish it. Just don’t finish it! Everyone is different and that’s a good thing.😊

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s my recommendations!

A little note…

I’ll be splitting these series up into different genres so hopefully I can give some recs for everyone’s favorite! A lot of these are in the Christian fiction category but there’s also some in classics I had to mention!

Contemporary Series

Roadside Assistance Trilogy by Amy Clipston

My #1 series recommendation for contemporary YA is the Roadside Assistance trilogy by Amy Clipston. It is SO good! If I had to choose my favorite contemporary books, these would definitely be #1.

This trilogy follows the lives of three friends in their last year of high school and the challenges they face with their school, boyfriends, family, friends, and faith. It doesn’t sound very unique the way I’m describing it but I’m telling you, these books are so good! Emily, Whitney, and Chelsea are so relatable and their stories and personalities are each unique.

The Paige Alder series by Erynn Mangum

I loved these books! I pretty much laughed nonstop the week I read them. Plus, the titles and covers are so fun!

This trilogy follows a twenty-something year old girl who is so busy, she has a planner jam-packed with important dates. Between her working overtime at her job, volunteering at church, helping her best friend… she has no free time. Then she meets a guy named Tyler and maybe just maybe… he helps her get her priorities on track. Throughout the trilogy, she really works on being less of a people pleaser as well as realizing what she wants in life. If you like books that have relatable protagonist and will give you a good laugh, you should read this trilogy.

Tradewinds series by Taylor Bennett

This series is about a girl named Olive who is forced to live in Hawaii with her grandmother. Yes, forced. She hates Hawaii. But she has no choice. She has to live there, even if it’s just for a little while… so she stays. And as she reluctantly makes friends, she discovers maybe her new life isn’t all that bad… maybe she could even learn to love Hawaii and the new people it has brought to her life. This series talks about faith, family issues, friendships, friendemies… basically a lot of things you can relate to as a teen.

This is such a fun series and it’s characters are so likable! I got to know Taylor through bookstagram (she is such a sweet person, by the way!!) and I loved her posts and vibrant personality. I decided to give her books a try and ended up loving them!! (no surprise to me!) I can’t wait for the fourth book that she is currently writing. YAY for more Hawaii and these fun characters!

Summerhill Secrets series by Beverly Lewis

I read this last summer and I really enjoyed it! It’s about a teenage girl who lives beside of Amish, although she isn’t Amish herself. Throughout the series, her and her Amish friends solve mysteries in their neighborhood, go through some tough times, and deal with relatable teenage stuff. It was a fun series and I really enjoyed it!

Classics

The Betsy series by Maud Hart Lovelace

I read this for the first time in 2020, and I fell in love with it! This is about a girl named Betsy Ray and her best friends, Tacy and Tib. These girls are growing up in the 1920s which I found so much fun to read about! The series follows Betsy from the age of 5 all the way into her 20s. I just adored them! They’re also based on the author’s own life. I loved that! These would also be great for tweens, especially the first four books!

Anne series by L.M. Montgomery

This is my favorite book series in the entire world. I love it so, so much! More than words can say. The Anne series is one of the most popular classic book series for girls out there… and for good reason. I was obsessed with it when I was thirteen, and I reread it often. You follow Anne from 11 years of age all the way until she is a mother. When the series starts, Anne Shirley is an orphan girl who has never really had a real home. When an older brother and sister come to adopt her, her whole life changes. This series is set in Prince Edward Island, Canada which sounds so beautiful!😍 There’s a million things I could say about this series… but we’d be here for a really long time. So basically, just read it!

The Emily series by L.M. Montgomery

Another series by L.M. Montgomery, the Emily series! This trilogy is about a young girl whose Father dies, leaving her to live with family members who are less than happy about the situation. Through the years, she faces a lot of challenges… especially with her dream of being a writer. While I didn’t love this one quite as much as the Anne series, I loved this one in a different way and it’s still good!

Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is my favorite book in the world. Ever. And that’s a big statement. I love it so much, I can’t even tell you. And the next two books are also wonderful. They’re sweet and beautiful and everything Louisa May Alcott has to offer.

Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

This is more of book and it’s sequel but I had to mention it on this list! I love it a lot. It’s about a girl named Rose who is recently orphaned and goes to live with her aunt’s on the “Aunt Hill”. She meets her eight cousins (all boys!) and as you can imagine, things are interesting. The sequel is my favorite, as it takes place years later when Rose is a woman. It’s so good!

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I think of Little House, I think of coziness and good food and sunshine… it’s just the most nostalgic series for me, and I love it so much. I love the books, I love the show, I love little house! It grew my love for reading about prairie life and pioneer life in the late 1800s. I have so many fond memories of my mom reading this series to me and my sister. When the series starts, Laura is just a five year old girl. As the series progress, she grows into the woman she is in the last book. I love these sort of series, the series that follow a character for a majority of their life. You feel as if you know them and grew with them. It really makes them special! A lot happens in this series— moving across the prairie, prairie fires, blizzards, etc… You should read it if you haven’t!

Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley

This is a very long series and I only made it to about book 11, but I did enjoy this one! It definitely grew on me as the series went along, as I got to know the character’s and Elsie grew up. My favorites were her teenage years. It follows her until she is a grandma so a very long time!

Fantasy

The Spoken Mage series by Melanie Cellier

This series was AMAZING! It was my first time reading Melanie Cellier’s books so I had no idea what to expect, and as I’m not a huge fantasy fan, I was prepared not to like it. Well, I ended up loving it. Months later, I’m still thinking about how epic it was.

The Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse

I just finished this series recently and I loved it! It was seriously amazing. It starts off dark and I don’t read dark books… but then there’s so much light! The allegory in this one was phenomenal. It brought me to tears and touched me in a way I didn’t expect! It had so much hope throughout and inspired me a lot. It was what I needed for the first of this year! It was epic and so good. The world-building, details, and descriptions were really amazing. I felt like I was there. I listened to this on audiobook, and they were very well done as well!

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia is definitely one of the most well known children/ teen fantasy series out there because it really is awesome! The Narnia world is just incredible. It sparks my imagination like no other. And the allegory is beautiful and speaks to me in a different way every time! It gets better with every reread. ❤️

Fairytale Retelling Series

The Hagenheim series by Melanie Dickerson

This is a series of historical fiction fairytale retellings, set during medieval times. I absolutely LOVE this series! I recommend Melanie Dickerson’s YA books to teen girls all of the time. They are action-packed, romantic, inspiring, and everything a good fairytale retellings should be.

The Four Kingdoms by Melanie Cellier

I have a full review of this series in a different post so if you would like more of my thoughts, you can find them on here. But anyways, I LOVED this series! It was amazing. So, SO good! It is definitely one of my favorites. My favorites were The Princess Pact and The Princess Game but they’re all really good. There’s also an allegory going on, so I love that! If you’re looking for some action-packed fairytale retellings with unique twists, try these!

Beyond the Four Kingdoms series by Melanie Cellier

This spin-off series of The Four Kingdoms is really good! I recommend reading the Four Kingdom’s series before reading this one just because it’s easier to understand the world and what’s happening but it isn’t completely necessary. Anyways, these books are really good! My favorites are A Tale of Beauty and the Beast and Princess of Wind and Wave… but they’re all great.

Mysteries

The Nancy Drew series

I’m sorry to say I don’t know of many YA mystery series so if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments! But I had to add the Nancy Drew series because ya know, they’re classic! They are probably most appealing to tweens and young teens because of the simplistic writing, but I still really enjoy them!

Dystopian/ Sci-Fi

The Anomaly Trilogy by Krista McGee

This trilogy is very intense… it will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a bit hard to explain but basically, it’s about a teen girl who lives in a State where emotions aren’t suppose to exist… but she feels emotions meaning, she is an Anomaly… meaning she can’t be allowed to live. It is pretty violent and a bit disturbing in parts but I think most dystopian books are. That being said, it wasn’t overly detailed so that I felt sick and I can be pretty sensitive to that kind of thing. I wouldn’t say it’s gory, just quite a bit of death. The faith in this series brings a lot of hope into a series that could have felt hopeless. Anyways, if you like dystopian and you want a clean one, this one is pretty epic!

Conclusion

So that’s a wrap! I hope that you found a few series you would like to try out. I love reading book series. I feel like you get to connect with the characters and world so much better! If you have any clean series recommendations, leave them down below in the comments. I’d love to know! I plan to do a clean books (that aren’t in series) post soon so keep a watch! I hope you have an amazing day!

❤️Emma

The Court of Swans by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

The Court of Swans is the first book in Melanie Dickerson’s new fairytale retellings series, The Dericott Tales. I am SO excited, you guys! I had the honor of reading an ARC of this book and here I am with my review.💛

Synopsis

Where there is wealth and power, there’s always someone willing to do anything to take it.

England, 1381: Delia’s idyllic life as daughter of an earl is shattered when her father dies and his wife accuses Delia’s seven brothers of treason and murder. The youngest is only ten years old, but this doesn’t stop the guards from hauling them off to the Tower of London. There they await a grim fate, as child-king Richard II is executing anyone who poses a threat to his throne. Delia is their only hope for pardon and freedom.

Sir Geoffrey did not expect his first assignment as captain of the guard to be the arrest of boys so young. He dutifully imprisons the brothers, but he can’t ignore the sense, rooted in personal experience, that injustice and treachery are at work.

Determined to rescue her brothers, Delia secures a position as a seamstress for the queen. Her quest is all but impossible as the executions continue. Sir Geoffrey offers to be her ally, but should she trust him in a court where everyone has an agenda?

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a tender retelling of “The Wild Swans,” where the virtues of loyalty and love face a harrowing showdown with power and fear.

My Review

I LOVE Melanie Dickerson’s books so much and since it has been a while since I last read one, my thoughts while reading this one was “It feels so good to be back into a Melanie Dickerson book!” Her Hagenheim series was AMAZING so when I found out she was coming out with a new series… let’s just say I was extremely happy about it. ☺️

I knew nothing about the fairytale this book is based on, “The Wild Swans”, so I went into this story not knowing what to expect… except for the expectation of liking it because it’s Melanie Dickerson. And I’m so happy to say, I did!

The story gets to the action at the very beginning which I really liked. I don’t always like waiting around for the plot to get going. I like the big plot point happening right away… and this one did that! I was drawn in only a few pages in and I had a hard time putting it down after that… which is my normal when reading one of Melanie’s books. 😉

There were a lot of characters in here as you can imagine since there are seven brothers. I’ll start off by saying, I loved the brothers and I cannot wait to get their stories! I get excited just thinking about it!! Since this story is about Delia, their sister, there wasn’t a whole lot of characterization given to them yet. So, that makes me even more excited to get to know them in the coming books!

Delia was a great main character. She was seriously determined and didn’t give up. Her love for her brothers and their love for her was so sweet. I loved it!

Geoffrey was a pretty great character too. He’s conflicted by what his duty as a knight of the king is and what he is knows in his heart is right. His desire to do right and do as God would have him do was really admirable and that’s what made him a great hero.

Besides our main characters, the bad guys were definitely easy to dislike. I was so cautious of everyone Delia came in contact with that I was giving her serious talks in my head not to trust anyone. 😂

The plot was fast-paced and kept my interest the entire time. Since everything seemed impossibly doomed, I had no idea how things were ever going to make it out alive. Needless to say, the suspense in here was great and kept me turning the pages.

The faith content in here was something I loved a lot. I love how Delia and Geoffrey pray through things and put their trust in God, even when they can’t understand why things are happening as they are. I just really love how Melanie weaves faith into her stories, into her character’s lives. It’s inspiring and makes the books that much better!

The romance was completely sweet and clean, nothing but a kiss. I appreciate that so much!

In the end, I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of suspense, a sweet romance, and a plenty of action. I’m beyond excited for the rest of this series, especially Edwin’s story in the next book.

This book comes out January 5, 2021! It’s right around the corner, you guys. 2021!!! That’s crazy to me.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Conclusion

After reading this, I now want to go back and reread the entire Hagenheim series. *sigh* I had such an amazing time discovering and reading those books. Funny thing is, I haven’t mentioned them that much on my blog! I find that crazy because I love that series so much. I like to review books right after reading them though… and it’s been a little while since I’ve read them. Maybe that should be my excuse to reread them. 😏

Anyways, I hope you have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend. 😊

~Emma