Book Review

ARC Book Review & Blog Tour: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

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

DEEP WATERS.

I picked this up on a whim for a blog tour because the summary had easily pulled me in. Add in a beautiful cover and I had some raised expectations. I really did end up enjoying this book and loved the tough messages it talked about.

Harry and Susie were a great match. I liked both of their characters and the relationship between them. It was unique to most contemporaries I read that in this case, the couple actually got together before the halfway point! I loved this. Gave me a lot of time to enjoy them, watch the relationship develop and grow as the months passed. Susie was a fairly well-rounded teenage character. I appreciated that when she made mistakes, she knew when to say sorry and also really had some enlightening moments for her. I felt like I got to see her really grow up and make some hard choices and thought it all was well handled. Susie never seemed childish (like some YA book characters), but like a older teen who was going into the real world soon and had to decide what would be best for her.

At times I felt there were a few misplaced moments. Namely, the love scene. I didn’t think it worked as well as intended. I know this book was a lot about growing up, yet it didn’t need a sex scene to culminate everything. It was also placed at an odd interval. This issue aside, the overall relationship, dates, etc. between Susie and Harry were lovely.

A big component of this book was mental health. Harry and Susie had to work through mental, physical and emotional situations to overcome the pressures of life. It addressed different conditions and treatments. And while the book did feel heavy at times, it also felt hopeful, knowing the sun would shine again.

I loved Susie’s family and her friend Amber. Incredibly supportive, occasionally awkward, and all around a lovely and tight-knit group. They made me smile and added another aspect that made me love this book more.

This book may [in general] be about swimmers trying to get to the Olympics, but it holds so many more gems than that. I loved the way the Olympic Trials were written and the way the author told Susie’s story in that moment. It allowed for a beautiful sentiment in doing what’s best for you and knowing you have to take care of yourself before you can help someone else.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; one love scene (very little detail, mostly a fade-to-black scene)
  • Trigger warnings: bipolar disorder, self-harm (specifically cutting), depression, anxiety, and verbally abusive coach

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Book Review

Book Review: The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Cameron Lund
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It seemed like a good plan at first.

When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she’s inspired to take things into her own hands. She wants to have that experience too (well, not exactly like that–but with someone she trusts and actually likes), so she’s going to need to find the guy, and fast. Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten.

So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.

But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean. Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends–just friends–so things are about to get complicated.

Cameron Lund’s delightful debut is a hilarious and heartfelt story of first loves, first friends, and first times–and how making them your own is all that really matters.

ADORBS.

This was a cute and heartfelt debut. I devoured it in practically one sitting and was all for this friends to lovers trope. And while that’s usually not my favorite trope, this one hit all the marks for a great book. I’m so happy I picked it up!

I absolutely couldn’t get over how adorable Keely and Andrew were. Utterly enchanted by the banter and flirtations between them. And they clearly had some chemistry. I felt like I already knew both of them and the intensity at which the protected and cared for one another made me care for them too.

Hannah and Keely had such a fantastic friendship. It’s something I love seeing in YA contemporaries. One where they actually want the best for each other and ever after a squabble know that their friendship is more important than a argument. The other side characters? Ugh, the worst. They felt overly high school. I get it, that’s the way it is sometimes, depending on what circle you run in, during school. But seriously, it was too much at times and they were incredibly awful to one another. The drama was turned up too high for me.

The ending was just like a cheesy rom-com and I was so invested in it. I thought it was precious and I’m so happy that Andrew and Keely got it all out there. Watching teens learning to have real and forward-moving conversations is always a wonderful bonus. What a beautiful debut and I can’t wait for more from this author.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a lot of general discussion about sex and partners, a few almost scenes (moderately descriptive) and one scene that’s very little descriptive
  • Trigger warnings: slut-shaming, bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + Mythology + Fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

A SWEET STORY.

This was my Book of the Month YA pick for September!

I thought this was a nice read, and I thought the writing was gorgeous. It was very whimsical and had a magical fairy-tale vibe to it that I enjoyed. What I struggled with was the pacing. This book is slooooow. Everything happens in slow motion and the story takes a bit to pick up and get going.

The concept of all of these magical doors to other worlds across Earth was stellar. I loved that idea and wish I could have explored even more of the worlds! We only got a taste of a few and I thought they would play a deeper part in the story as a whole. It was all very dream-like and I loved the bits of magic that were added in to help January along her way. Being a word-worker sounds like the coolest job ever.

There’s a big focus on reconnecting a lost family and this was the solid bones of the novel. I found this moving and was hoping that January was going to get her happy ending. I wasn’t sure how part of the story was going to weave into the mix, but after the small plot twist it all started making sense. I appreciated her tenacity to find her parents and have them in her life again.

I wish the villain had a bigger back-story. I definitely thought he was interesting and it took me a bit to catch on to what he was trying to accomplish. I felt he played a good role and added a bit of creepiness to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses, nights spent together with pretty much no detail (I barely realized that it was implied they did have sex)
  • Violence: beating of an animal, having someone wrongly sent to an asylum, psychological abuse/manipulation, gun violence, colonialism
  • Trigger warnings: throughout the book are multiple instances of racism and sexism

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