Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Feeling Like Home by Haleigh Wenger

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 270 pages
Author: Haleigh Wenger
Publisher: Sword and Silk
Release Date: August 3rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sixteen-year-old Paige Williams can’t stop self-sabotaging.

Not when her dad gets sick, not when her relationship implodes, not even when her parents send her to another-freaking-state for the summer to live with her sister. Paige just wants to have fun, spray paint a few walls, and block out everything stressful, including her growing concern that she might be sick as well. To make things worse, her parents threaten her with boarding school in the fall if she can’t prove she’s changed her bad habits.

Paige’s parents sign her up for a rebuilding project in Texas where her sister lives. Meanwhile, Paige reluctantly befriends her sister’s straight-laced teenage neighbor, Joey, who is a frequent guest. He’s so different from her, but Paige realizes that may not be a bad thing, especially since being around Joey curbs her urge to vandalize and ignore the rules. He even makes her forget about the debilitating stomach cramps she struggles to hide.

Just as Paige begins to feel settled in Texas, her dad’s worsening Crohn’s disease brings her home to Seattle. When her own health fails her, she has the choice of staying at home and receiving care. Or, she could go back to Texas and prove for once and for all that she’s more than her mistakes and more than a disease. Torn between two worlds and two versions of herself, Paige must decide where, and with whom, she truly feels at home.

Thank you to the author for an eARC.

MIXED THOUGHTS.

There’s some good and some bad here. Trying to wrangle my thoughts for this one.

Something I could understand were the emotions coming from 16 year-old Paige. She’s going through a lot and I recognize the thoughts and feelings she would be going through during a hard time in her life.

Now an item I really didn’t love. Paige. While I mentioned above, some stuff was fine, the rest definitely was not. One major issue, cheating. I don’t like it. Ever. I can’t get on board with any reasoning as to “why it’s okay.” It’s not. She dragged on a love triangle that was ridiculous and rubbed me the wrong way multiple times.

This book covered a lot of difficult subject matter (See trigger warnings). It was painful to watch the story unfold searching for hope. I liked the way Wenger brought that out in the end and gave Paige (and her family) a chance to reconnect and find some measure of peace.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loved one with a chronic disease, loss of a parent, being diagnosed with a chronic condition, vandalism, cheating

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 22nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen, this swoon-worthy novel follows a teen girl during her California summer of beekeeping, secrets, and stolen kisses.

Josie Hazeldine has just graduated from high school, and she’s ready for a summer full of sunshine, beekeeping, and…lying to her mom.

Josie’s mom couldn’t be more proud of her daughter going to college, something she never got to do. But Josie wants to stay in her California hometown and take over the family business, Hazeldine Honey. So that college acceptance her mom is thrilled about? Yeah, Josie turned it down. But she’s going to come clean—just not yet.

The neighbor’s artsy, adorable grandson who’s in town for the summer makes Josie’s web of lies even more tangled. He’s into Josie and the feeling is very mutual, but he’s a Blumstein—the sworn enemy of the Hazeldines and their number one competition in the annual Honey Show at the end of July. As their secret fling goes on, Josie knows she’s getting in way too deep to leave him behind when summer’s over.

Can Josie keep the boy she can’t stop thinking about without the secrets she’s juggling crashing down around her?

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

IT WAS CUTE.

I feel like what I got most out of this was a lot of honeybee knowledge. Which I’m not complaining about at all because I really loved that aspect. I love when contemporaries have a new to me vibe and this one did with all of the apiary facts I learned.

Onto the romance side of things, it’s a quick/insta-ish romance. I didn’t find myself upset with that though (and usually I am). It was rooted in a summer style relationship and I liked how things flowed between Ezra and Joie. They were pretty dang cute and all of the honest and meaningful conversations between them was a really nice point.

Josie working through and with her anxiety hit home a lot for me. I loved this mental health rep and how it was portrayed. The addition of complex friendship was great too. While it made me irrationally angry, it went down exactly like I hoped. A lot of growth for Josie and committing to her passion and owning her truth by finally telling others. I love that she left people go and found her niche.

The story moved well. At times faster than I loved, and at times, slower than I loved. Yet I didn’t have a hard time picking this up to continue. I wanted to see where these characters were going and am grateful that they did indeed, go places! I love the pursuit of dreams with a long lasting summer romance to boot.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses and brief open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: anxiety, panic attacks, a loved one with Parkinson’s disease

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Alexis Nedd
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

By day, Emilia is a field hockey star with a popular boyfriend and a mother obsessed with her academic future. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate.

When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team—Jake—recognizes her . . .

From an exciting new talent, this sweet and charming YA romance will win the hearts of gamers and non-gamers alike.

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

ADORABLE GAMER ROMANCE.

It’s been a minute since I’ve read a book with virtual gaming at the forefront and I’ve missed it! This was a solid read that was quick to fly through and definitely had me smiling by the end.

Emilia was a strong heroine. Intelligent and geeky, with the perfect amount of snark and boldness. I loved her inner monologue. Em’s character felt high school appropriate, but not in the over dramatic way that can be too much. She’s a high schooler figuing it out. The pressure of parents wanting the best for her, wanting to choose something that’s only hers and finding her niche in the world. I love that Emilia was able to acknolwedge her mistakes and understand how she could improve. It was even better when she had that last tough conversation with her Mom and her parents understood her even better too. I love a good family chat.

Jake, bless his heart. He was SO DANG CUTE. Put him and Em together and it was the gamer romance I didn’t know I needed. They were adorable. I loved anytime Em and Jake were on the same page. The support and compassion was fantastic. No unnecessary miscommunications here. Just some great kissing scenes and young love flirtations.

My only eh thing was that sometimes the gaming aspects took up a lot of page time. Pages dedicated to very specific gameplay and breakdowns. I wanted more of the real-life characters over an extended play by play of the game.

All of the side characters were so fun and well rounded. They only added to the book and were perfectly placed throughout. Everything about this read was pretty fabulous. I found myself flying through it. The ending was great and worked out exactly like I hoped it would!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: racism, sexism, sexual harrassment of a minor, divorce, cheating (main characters + Jake’s parents), transphobia, doxxing, cyber-bullying

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Lynn Painter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.

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

ADORED THIS.

Whole-heartedly. Such a cute young adult contemporary romance y’all.

This was utterly full of romantic cliches and I didn’t mind one bit. It was written beautifully and conveyed everything so well that I leaned into all of the obvious platitudes and felt myself breaking out in continual smiles over Liz and Wes.

Ohhh Liz and Wes. What chemistry from the get-go. You knew exactly where things were going and I appreciated the ride. Their witty banter, and soft moments made my heart flip and I love how things worked out for them. Liz definitely grew over the book and anything I was frustrated with her about was resolved. It made for a very quick read, I suprised myself at how fast I devoured this because the story kept making me want more.

I love the addition of movies and music. It was fun picturing this book with a movie flair and I think it’ll be fun to look up some of the songs mentioned throughout. I’m such a lover of love and the childhood friends / enemies to lovers vibe was perfect here. This is a happily ever after you should add to your TBR if you’re looking for something to give you warm fuzzies.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses and make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a parent by car accident

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