Book Review

ARC Book Review: Exactly Where You Need to Be by Amelia Diane Coombs

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Release Date: June 7th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Turtles All the Way Down meets Love and Luck in this romantic road trip story about a teen girl’s last chance to have an epic summer with her best friend before everything changes.

Florie’s OCD and her mother’s worrying have kept her from a lot of things, like having an after-school job and getting her driver’s license. And now that she’s graduated high school, while her best friend Kacey is headed off to Portland in the fall, Florie’s taking a parent-sanctioned gap year off before starting college. When the decision was made, Florie was on board, but now she can’t ignore the growing itch to become the person she wants to be and venture outside the quaint, boring Washington town she grew up in.

Winning tickets to see her favorite true crime podcast’s live show in California gives her the opportunity to do just that, if only for a few days. So—unbeknownst to their parents—Kacey and Florie set off on a road trip to San Francisco. The only downside in Florie’s opinion? Sam, Kacey’s older brother and Florie’s forever crush, is their ride. The Samson Hodge, who Florie hasn’t seen since winter break, and who she’d prefer to never see again, if possible. But Florie is willing to put up with Sam if it means one last adventure with her best friend.

Making it to San Francisco and back to Washington without their parents catching on isn’t a given, but one thing is for sure: this trip will change everything.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

GROWTH.

I could not put this book down. I adored it.

Florie absolutely just melted my heart and captured my soul. I loved her ability to acknowledge her strengths, but also where she could do better. Florie took so many steps to get to where she was by the end of the book and I was cheering her on the whole way. When she finally stood up to her Mother? HERE FOR IT. I think these intense and deep conversations (at times with the help of a therapist) were exactly what this book needed.

Kasey, Florie’s best friend, was another favorite. I loved her charming nature and acceptance of who Florie is, as she is. Even when the conflicts came up (and Kasey had a right to be upset), the fact that both sides LISTENED and found ways to move through this bump in their friendship was soul soothing. I loved their bond and definitely teared up at the end when the inevitability of college came around.

Now the romance? How adorable was Sam? VERY. I do wish there was a bit more time between them (because I didn’t think the love scene was necessary for these two?) for me to see a bigger connection between them, but let’s face it. I thought all of the times they were together as the two of them were so sweet. Sam also met Florie where she was and I liked that even though miscommunication was apart of their story it wasn’t there for drama. It brought them together and actually opened up more channels in their romantic relationship.

This has already gone on a lot longer than expected because apparently I’m in a gushing mood. If you love a good road trip with some antics along the way, mental health rep, close friendships, first love and finding exactly where you need to be, then this one is for you.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one vague open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, therapy sessions, brief marijuana use, underage drinking

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Book Review

Book Review: Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Annie Sullivan
Publisher: Blink
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

YOU’RE GONNA HEAR ME ROAR.

This was a great standalone!

I listened to it on audio and found myself really caught up in the story. It’s not very long yet, gives a good amount of depth for the characters and world-building. I, of course, wish there was more, but liked what I got overall.

Kateri was a strong heroine. I like that she chose her own path and was able to overcome her own prejudices. The romance between Kateri and Cion was my favorite blend of enemies to lovers. And for a standalone, it didn’t feel insta-love at all! There was depth to their conversations and moments and some fun banter as Kateri joined the Desert Boys.

The villains are on the bland, typical side. All got the demise necessary to maintain the plot. The action was engaging at least and I found myself knowing where the story was going, but enjoying the journey I was being taken on.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: animal cruelty, death by animal, sandstorms, physical, sword battles, arena battles
  • Trigger/Content Warning: description of murder of a loved one and an infant

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Book Review

Book Review: When the World Didn’t End: Poems by Caroline Kaufman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult poetry
Length: 192 pages
Author: Caroline Kaufman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Expected Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Teen Instagram sensation and author of Light Filters In @poeticpoison returns with a second collection of short, powerful poems about love, forgiveness, self-discovery, and what it’s like living after a hard-fought battle with depression, in the vein of poetry collections like Milk and Honey and the princess saves herself in this one.

Thank you to BookSparks and their Fall Reading Challenge Campaign for a gifted copy. All thoughts are my own!

WOW. I NEED TO READ MORE POETRY.

This made me realize that I’m really missing out on poetry books. I generally don’t pick them up. Not because I don’t like poetry, it’s just not what I first think of. Clearly, I need to add a few more into rotation.

As someone who personally struggles with depression, I felt a lot of these poems. I was able to connect with Kaufman’s powerful words and meanings. Words matter y’all.

“I am a book
with the pages all worn.

the cover is tearing,
the ink is fading,

but I swear I’m worth the read.”

This is a shorter review because the poetry book itself is less than 200 pages, but trust me, there is a lot of substance within those pages. I read it in one sitting because I was entranced by the vulnerability and rawness of her words.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult poetry
  • Language: a few words
  • Trigger warnings: There is an author’s note in the beginning of the book mentioning that some of the poems include themes of: mental illness, suicidal ideation, self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual assault

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Book Review

Book Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Rating: ☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 417 pages
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractedly cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I DO NOT WANT TO SAVE THE DATE.

I seem to be in the minority for not loving this book, but asdfghjkl; NO. I wanted to give this three stars to be friendly, but the more I thought about it the more that I realized this book annoyed me more than pleased me. I’m still open to reading more of Matson’s contemporaries, this one just let me down overall.

The writing had a nice flow and is easy to keep turning pages. I kept going thinking that I was going to get some character arcs to help my thoughts on the book. I did enjoy the family dynamics [mostly]. It was fun seeing that many family members together and interacting. Some of the dialogue is a tad cheesy, but fits with the atmosphere of the story.

My biggest issue is that the two main focuses of the book collided so much and I thought it needed either more of one and less of the other and vice versa. Let me explain:

  • We had the “love story”. With the first chapter I was already very curious as to how this was all going to unfold (and why I thought the book was going to focus on the romance). I had guessed right with most of it, but the fact of the matter is that neither guy was in the book all that much. I was wondering if we were going to have more interactions. It left me wanting more from that angle.
  • And we had the “family story”. The entire story (400+ pages) covers THREE DAYS. That’s its own issue. Anywho, there was a big focus on reconnecting with family and accepting change within that dynamic. I would have loved if the plot focused solely on them and not added the romance. ONE OR THE OTHER. The combination of both left these plot lines frazzled.

I couldn’t stand Charlie as a MC. She was often very immature and naive. Not to mention, literally every chapter something else went wrong with the wedding. I was amazed that that many things could happen in THREE DAYS. It got to be so ridiculous I couldn’t even handle it.

This book would do much better on the big screen. The unrealistic happenings caused me to roll my eyes rather than laugh. I think this would have translated better as a movie. It was cute to have the cameo of characters from The Unexpected Everything (a book I did give 4 stars) too!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: an almost love scene (where you basically know what’s happening, takes up most of the first chapter), some kisses
  • Trigger warnings: divorce

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