Book Review

Book Review: Love, Life, and the List (Love, Life, and the List #1) by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 374 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: December 26th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What do you do when you’ve fallen for your best friend? Funny and romantic, this effervescent story about family, friendship, and finding yourself is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.

But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself. 

LOVED THE ENDING.

This is my third Kasie West book. And I feel like I will end up slowly making my way through all of them. I love how fast they are. How clean and age appropriate they tend to be. And by the end I am somehow smitten with the story.

I found no exceptions in this book. I often found the high school setting and characters a bit naive at times and a touch annoying. Positive this stems from the fact I am years out of high school and remember how ridiculous that time was. I try not to fault it for that fact because I do like the deeper story that’s often portrayed. Abby learned a lot about herself and her artwork during this book. Having to grow up, make some tougher choices, and have hard conversations. I do applaud her for the strength she showed.

Friends to lovers is the hardest trope for me to get behind. I tend to find it a bit dry and one sided. Unfortunately, I felt that way about Cooper for 80% of this book. I thought his friendship with Abby was all on her and that he led her on in a number of ways. When Abby finally stood up for herself I was stoked. Now, I will say the closing scenes of everything working out (because HEA are my jam) was so sweet. Ugh, I am always in for a Hallmark-y, confession of love scene.

Another short and sweet West book. These are cute and I’m glad I’m finally reading these books! I love the writing style and how easy it is to read one of these books. I love knowing that I’ll get a happy ending and that the characters are cute.

Overall audience notes

  • YA Contemporary romance (Friends to lovers trope)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 330 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Expected Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out.

WELL THIS WAS JUST THE FLUFFIEST BOOK.

This became a late night binge read when I was ignoring another book I wasn’t as into. And y’all. I LOVED IT. It totally took me by surprise and made my heart smile.

I love that this had mysterious notes passed in class without knowing who was who. I think it adds such a sweet flair to it all. Writing out your true thoughts and getting to know someone through letter writing. WHAT HAPPENED TO WRITING NOTES. Oh man, I miss those days. Texting has sped everything up.

These characters are in high school, so at times they do seem a bit naive. This never stuck out so much to ruin this book in anyway though. I love that there was some growth and maturity that came by the end. Lily and Cade both had their own personal conflicts that there were able to come together and form solutions.

Cade was so cute. Just, so cute. Lily’s perceived interpretation of him was entirely off and I appreciate her actually being open to getting to know him on a different level and seeing past his walls. The same goes for Cade. He took the time to show and prove to Lily he wasn’t the guy she thought. THEY WERE SO ADORABLE. I’m just happy to be here at this point because this book was all smiles.

I don’t really have a long review to continue with because there’s not much more to say. I thought it was precious and light-hearted. Made me smile and stoked to read some more Kasie West books. I’m happy that I took a second chance on her books because I knew there was one I would connect with and love.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses

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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 Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary fiction
Length: 373 pages
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

GUT WRENCHING.

Well this was amazing. What a story. For a shorter novel, I was heavily invested in everyone’s lives and found this story raw. A great smorgasbord of religion, growing up, family, friendships, and being who you want to be.

Dill. Oh my sweet Dill. I loved his character. This poor guy got the short end of stick he never wanted. The way his character grew to the end of the book had me wanting to clap. I think I even fist-pumped once because I was so happy listening to him stand up for himself. Dill found his way through depression and grief to stand on his own and make decisions for his future that would be beneficial.

Lydia was the sassy best friend that brought another great angle to the story. She lived a bit more affluent life with pathways that she chose for herself and parents that cared for her. Lydia had another great character change over the book too. She was emotional and brave in being open to Dill. Being the friend he needed throughout the book. Even when they had conflicts, they were able to have productive talks that furthered my love for this book.

Travis was someone you wanted to root for and as relatable as Lydia and Dill were too. He was incredibly courageous and I love that he was his own person. Wearing a dragon necklace, carrying a staff, and loving a book series with his soul. And he never felt sorry for himself. Travis stood up to his demons (aka. Dad) and I just loved his character.

Watching these three really grow and change over senior year was tumultuous at best. The insane highs and lows kept me on a roller coaster of emotions. I felt the weight of this novel and story more times than once.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary fiction
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, guns, murder, see Trigger Warnings for more
  • Trigger Warnings: murder, child abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, a parent convicted of possession of child pornography, suicide, suicide ideation, grief and depression

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