Book Review

ARC Book Review: With and Without You by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ★★☆ (2.5)
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: April 19th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

#Wibbroka is back with another swoony YA–this time tackling long-distance relationships, in a novel based on their own romantic history.

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be the Couple Most Likely to Marry. They’ve been dating for three solid years, and everyone agrees they’re perfect for each other. But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during possibly the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Before she can say the words, though, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving out of state. Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again. 

Thank you the the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

LETDOWN.

I am a huge fan of Wibberley and Sigemund-Broka. Read and enjoyed all of their previous books. This is the first time I have felt truly MEH about how this entire book went.

This relationship in crisis trope did not play out well. Siena complained entirely too much and kept pitying Patrick at every turn when she should have just BROKEN UP WITH HIM. Stop making ridiculous excuses. It also really bugged me that rather than communicate (since they’ve been in a relationship for 3+ years), she instead decides she wants to sleep with him for the first time even when she acknowledges she’s not in a good place for it. I could give you a list of more instances of Sienna making me want to toss my kindle.

Some of the second half was better. I’ll give it up to that. A few times there was some good communication. And I liked Patrick a lot! There wasn’t enough build up around his character so often he felt very bland, but he seemed sweet and I liked that we got some passion out of him by the end.

There’s more ridiculous miscommunication issues in the last quarter and I can’t say I was even all that happy with the ending. I felt there were enough red flags on both sides that I fell off the wagon of being behind this relationship.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: complete closed-door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gaslighting, gray-area cheating

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 25th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC.

HARD FOUGHT HEA.

I find myself having a hard time writing this review. Even though I really enjoyed this book. From the get-go I wanted to know what happened between Katrina and Nathan. The slow unveiling of their history and magnetism pulled me in.

This book isn’t ooey-gooey romantic. No fluff, no adorableness, nothing of the sort. Fair warning because I was expecting something with a bit more of any of those listed above. It’s deep and intricate. It felt very adult (not in an explicit sense, but the context). Things really played out very real world. I found that I was thinking often on these kinds of situations and how the nuances of life can create breaking points and new connections.

Nathan and Katrina could have definitely used a sit down, drag out conversation (which admittedly, would have severely shortened the book). The way they expressed themselves through writing was intense. And that pinnacle moment where things were at last said pulled at my soul. Two people who had to fight for themselves as individuals and together. The title is very apt and the story inside far exceeds the idea of the roughest draft.

A bit heavy, but a hard won happily ever after. I loved getting a chance to read this duo’s first adult romance and look forward to what they write next. I didn’t want to speed read this at all because every single word seemed to matter. Every paragraph played into the novel. The engrossing nature had me finishing it in a day.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one brief/vague open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gaslighting, brief cheating (an unreturned kiss), depictions of anxiety, divorce

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: April 20th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An academic enemies-to-lovers YA with all the nerdy drama, high school antics, and heartpounding romance of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead.

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

MY FAVORITE TROPE.

This was a fun ride! I enjoyed this one much more than their last (but not as much as my favorite, If I’m Being Honest).

I am always here for an enemies to lovers trope and this brought the heat in that department. The snarky banter and high-jinks that Alison and Ethan got into just to prove a point had me both laughing and eye-rolling. Oh teenagers! I liked how their relationship progressed once they finally started to admit some feelings. I wish it had happened sooner because it was adorable after that point.

There were some missed opportunities for character growth, especially for Alison. Dealing with her sister being home and trying to be the best at everything I was hoping to see some understanding and maybe relaxing a little on her grip. By the VERY end I could see that change starting. It would helped me love Alison’s character more if this had started sooner and we got to see that play out in her interactions.

The competitive nature was almost too far to come back from and I’m glad it ended when it did. It did create some clear tension and heat between Ethan and Alison. I liked that at times, it did deviate from the expected and some exploration of self was occurring. Honestly, I think it would be fun to follow these two to college to see what happens next. I enjoy that these books have clear teenage characters who are growing into themselves and make mistakes and remind me of that time in my life too.

And I always love a good run-in with old characters!

Overall audience notes;

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses, heated make out (with some clothing removed)

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Book Review

Book Review: Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A boy desperate to hold on, a girl ready to let go.

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives.

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.

LOVE A COLLEGE TOUR.

I am a huge fan of books by these authors. I have adored them and was really excited for book three! This one was definitely different than the previous and while good, and had some moments I enjoyed, I didn’t feel it had the same flair as previously.

I did like the journey that both of the characters went on. It was a true journey of learning about yourself and trying to find the best path for YOU. I love how this explored options and plans with Fitz and Juniper. They each had their own personal struggles that were unique, but also had pieces that you can relate to.

The journey was fun. I really enjoyed this trope in this context. I loved seeing different campuses and experiences. It was easy to follow along and the writing as always, is spectacular.

Everything did end abruptly. And I mean, I flipped to the last page, and didn’t realize it was the last page. That confused me and left me with few feelings of resolution. It definitely need an epilogue or something. I don’t mind how the character interactions were left, it made sense to the story, but the rest of it was really open-ended.

The chemistry between Fitz and Juniper was pretty solid. I actually felt the quick connection between them. They moved quickly (and at times, too quickly), and had all the hints at that insta-love/insta-connection you want more from. I would have looooved even more from them.

Another cute and light-hearted, yet with some true moments of childhood-being-over reckoning that I enjoy seeing in young adult books. I’m anxiously awaiting for what they write next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: occasionally strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs; a few closed door scenes, one little detail scene
  • Trigger warnings: a main characters Mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness (early on-set dementia)

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