Book Review

ARC Book Review: Far From Normal by Becky Wallace

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 240 pages
Author: Becky Wallace
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From Stealing Home author Becky Wallace comes a Devil Wears Prada-inspired YA romance, in which “normal girl” Maddie must repair the image of Major League Soccer’s bad boy to ace her internship. A perfect read for fans of Morgan Matson and Miranda Kenneally.

Maddie McPherson is sick of Normal—both her hometown of Normal, Illinois and being the ‘normal’ sibling. But when she lands a summer internship with a sports marketing firm, she finally has a chance to crawl out of her genius brother’s shadow. Not to mention, a glowing letter of recommendation could secure her admission to her dream college.

But Maddie’s nickname is “CalaMaddie” for a reason, and when the company tasks her with repairing the image of teen soccer phenom Gabriel Fortunato, she wonders if she’s set herself up for embarrassment. Gabriel is a tabloid magnet, who’s best-known for flubbing Italy’s World Cup hopes. As Maddie works with him to develop “pleasant and friendly” content for social media, she also learns he’s thoughtful, multi-talented, and fiercely loyal—maybe even to a fault. Falling for a footballer is exactly how CalaMaddie would botch this internship, but with the firm pressuring her to get the job done, perhaps her heart is worth risking?

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

UTTERLY ADORABLE.

I basically read this in one sitting because of how flippin’ precious it was. I was completely smitten with this book and am going to sing its praises in this review.

Originally concerned about the length (under 300 pages), I didn’t know what to expect for my first book by Wallace. BLOWN AWAY sounds about right now. I found this quick, fast-paced young adult rom-com exactly what I needed at the time and had me grinning and laughing throughout. Don’t let the length deter you, this is an absolute gem.

Madeline was a great main character. She was under some intense pressure from multiple forces in her life and at only 17! I liked the way she handled herself, but also still felt like a teenager. It was a great combination that made me feel for and understand Madeline’s motives.

Now the precious soccer player, Gabe? I am SO HERE FOR bad boys with a heart of gold. I’m easy to please when it comes to books with this nature. Gabe and Madeline’s relationship moved well and the pace was steady and absolutely sweet. I love the little dates they went on and the support they were both giving each other.

I love the Devil Wears Prada aspects and started to see them more after I finished it when I sat there unable to think about anything else. There’s plenty of allusions that are fun and quirky that make me think this should be a movie, and that I also need to re-watch TDWP.

AH. I am just in love with this book. Think its the perfect, sweet, YA rom-com you should definitely read if you’re even the tiny bit curious. I can’t wait to read more books from her!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: bike crash

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Book Review

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 394 pages
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

DIDN’T JIVE WITH THE WRITING.

That would be my biggest issue. Nothing clicked quite the way I think it was supposed to. I kept reading because I was [mostly] enjoying the story, but things never changed. I thought things would randomly get political or twists would be thrown in that I didn’t think were necessary or helpful to the plot as a whole.

I did enjoy the interactions between Penny and Sam. I thought they were sweet and I love the modern era love story of getting to know each other through texts/phone calls. It was clever that she became his emergency contact. The college age setting was nice too. I wish there were more YA/New adult books set in college. This isn’t a slow-burn romance in anyway though. Mostly infatuation that turns into love all of a sudden.

This book seemed overly dramatic at times. Like it was trying to see how awful things could get before a resolution kind of came about. I don’t mind this usually in books because I understand the flow of the story. This came out a bit jarring and I was upset with how broken these characters were written out. Maybe I thought this was going to have a bit more sunshine.

I also felt like NOTHING HAPPENED. There was some focus on Sam’s documentary and on Penny’s writing class, but I never got to see the end of them? It was annoying to have a bunch of loose threads. I know it wasn’t the main part of the story, but it was definitely discussed more than enough to have needed things tied up.

Having someone as a friend, in whatever capacity that may be, was a great concept for this book though. We all need someone to lean on and I loved seeing Penny and Sam turn towards each other in their times of need.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (college age)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, page 290 – a moderately detailed rape scene (main character telling her story)

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Book Review

Book Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?

DEFINITELY CUTE.

Oh man. Well this was just precious.

I finally had a chance to read this book and I’m so glad I got to! It is the perfect little pick me up type of read when you need something light and fluffy.

The whole dating concept was a bit crazy, totally unwarranted, and the best part of this book. I love how the author was able to create unique dates each time and had unexpected things happen that would make me eyes widen. It took the whole idea of me worrying this would be stagnant away because each date brought another layer to the novel itself.

Sophie’s family ran me ragged sometimes, yet after talking to someone who had a family exactly like this, it made appreciate the scope of it all and the differences all of our families have. They were loud, in everybody’s privacy and quiet moments and they made me laugh and shake my fists in the air. I love that this book wasn’t only about dating, but also about reconnecting with family and enjoying the moments together too.

I really appreciated that the real romance came from someone Sophie genuinely knew and not a full stranger. It was heartfelt and those quiet moments between them made me shout at the book to KISS ALREADY.

This definitely has all of the Christmas vibes. I think I would have loved it even more if I had the chance to read it during the actual holiday season. I definitely recommend adding this to your Christmas TBR.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warning: pre-mature birth

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Book Review

Book Review: There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness #1) by Katy Rose Pool

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Katy Rose Pool
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

A WEE BIT TYPICAL.

I have had this on my 2019 list for awhile. Really excited about it. I love multiple POV group books (like The Gilded Wolves, Six of Crows, Aurora Rising, etc.). There’s something magical about having so many thoughts and characters come together that make for a fun read. This was good overall I’d say.

My glaring issues was the amount of typical YA fantasy book related things. It didn’t feel new. I can’t put my finger on the exact time or place in the book other than a general feeling of eh, haven’t I read this before? Don’t get me wrong, I was still entertained and found it an easy read.

I appreciated that the world-building was simple to follow. I understood the politics and dynamics of everything surrounding these characters. I knew what the villain’s goals were, how everyone wanted to accomplish their own goals, how the magic system worked. It was nice not to feel like I was staring at a wall of chaos trying to understand the premise.

Weird tidbit, I’m not sure I liked any of the point-of-view characters? They were all kind of hard to love. A few of them were consistently making poor choices and running away from problems that only caused more issues which had me entirely frustrated. If I had to choose anyone I was enjoying it would probably be Jude. Bless his heart, he’s going to have a rough second book though. I wish I could connect to everyone on a deeper level. This goes for their relationships too. Lots of budding pairings, yet nothing felt REAL. It was all happening too fast in a series. We have time, let’s develop these bonds first.

I have the second book on my TBR and have plans to read it. Whether or not I found this book OUTSTANDING, I am curious what twists will come my way next. There were plenty of side characters that kept me on my toes (much obliged for that). I liked constantly thinking to myself, are they good? are they bad? what’s the truth?!. It made for fast page flipping to get to the bottom of it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy, multi-POV
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, fire, torture (by water/drowning, fire), physical

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