Stealing Home by Becky Wallace

9781624147647_aad1dOriginally published in School Library Journal, June 2019.

Gr. 6 & Up: Seventeen year old Texas teen Ryan Russell knows baseball. Her parents, though divorced, share ownership of the Buckley Beavers minor league team, keeping her busy with a goal to become general manager. Ryan’s assisted with new players before, but Sawyer Campbell is refreshingly different. A 1st round draft pick from Georgia and son of a watermelon farmer, Campbell is hardworking and smart. He’s easy on the eyes, too, but Ryan knows the strict rules on dating players. Both teens futures are uncertain: financial trouble for the watermelon farm and a possible sale of the Buckley Beavers. As they spend time together, Ryan receives praise and respect like never before, making it difficult to stick to the rules and stay out of the rumor spotlight. Teaming up with Sawyer seemed like a great idea until the walls Ryan has put up start to crumble. Will they be able to salvage the team and their relationship before the final inning. Themes of baseball, family, and first love are woven together with rich, realistic detail due to the author’s own background with minor league baseball. VERDICT: Wallace’s contemporary, lighthearted romance is squeaky clean and will appeal to both tweens and teens.

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

9780062675798_6d1a0Originally appeared in School Library Journal, February 2019.

Grade 9 & up – The second in a three book companion series, this realistic fiction, set in Los Angeles, is written as a standalone novel with crossover characters. High school senior, Lacey spends her days covered in elaborate zombie makeup on set, playing the love interest of famous heartthrob, Grant James. Grant is hot and he knows it, but he and Lacey lack chemistry on set of the campy horror film, Dancing Graves. Lacey begrudgingly and occasionally completes her schoolwork in between filming. When her overprotective father hires a tutor, she heeds his advice to buckle down and finish school in case acting isn’t always an option in her future. Donovan Lake, her easy-on-the-eyes tutor, at first seems uptight and lame, but as she spends more time with him, her math grade isn’t the only thing progressing. Working on set brings Lacey into some unfamiliar social territory, but she manages to make new friends. When odd coincidences that could jeopardize Lacey’s acting career keep occurring, she must decide who to trust and be willing to look out for her own happiness. Snippets of movie script are included between chapters, allowing readers to feel like they are on set with the characters. Recommended for purchase to enhance a clean young adult romance collection. VERDICT: Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will enjoy this light-hearted, wholesome romantic comedy which would make a great Netflix film.