Book Review

Book Review: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Crystal Maldonado
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: February 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

REALLY ENJOYABLE.

I flew through this book quickly. The writing led to a easy and great paced story for a coming of age teen, Charlie.

The conversations throughout hit me deep in many ways. Some I could understand and connect with and others I won’t ever be able to understand, but appreciated seeing it in a book to help me understand more. There was a lot of great dialogue here and I’m grateful that I had the chance to read this.

Within the bigger and tougher discussions was an adorable romance. I thought Brian was precious and I loved all of the dates and interactions and the chemistry between him and Charlie. Some of the dialogue is very high school, though I wasn’t too affected by it. I thought everything felt pretty authentic to a 16/17 year-old without being over the top.

What I didn’t love was how the conflict went down with Brian. It just seemed liked it could have been addressed better and not dragged out as long as it was for the sake of the drama. A conversation after cooling down would have nicely moved things along rather than trying to force a grand gesture at the end.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-outs; discussion of sex
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: fatmisia, body shaming, diet culture, disordered eating

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Book Review

Book Review: Eye of the Beholder (Stone Springs #1) by Gracie Ruth Mitchell

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 234 pages
Author: Gracie Ruth Mitchell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: September 23rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

One girl. One boy. One bargain…

Mina
Look, I’m no social butterfly. I don’t care what the extroverts say; talking to people is scary. I’d rather hang out with my books than actual human beings. Books don’t call you names or dump water over your head in the cafeteria.
But high school is almost over, and I’m realizing I have nothing to show for it but good grades. I need to come out of my shell if I want to get the attention of a certain football player, and I’m going to need help. My neighbor Cohen is the man for the job. Sure, his attractiveness makes me nervous, and yes, he smells obnoxiously good all the time, but it’s fine. I’ve got this.
I mean, probably.
I’ve probably got this.

Cohen
Mina’s got a thing for my buddy Jack. I’ve got a thing for getting into a good college. My plan is simple: I’ll help Mina get Jack’s attention if she’ll tutor me for the ACT. No big deal, right? But working with Mina isn’t going to be easy. Her social skills are iffy at best, and don’t get me started on her (lack of) flirting skills. It’s a good thing she makes me laugh, because we’re going to be spending a lot of time together…

MOSTLY CUTE.

This was a quick, sweet read from Kindle Unlimited. Though as I’m sitting here to write this review (a few days after finishing) I’m realizing I don’t remember much. And that’s the story of this book. It wasn’t that memorable.

I think the interactions between Cohen and Mia were overall cute. I liked the banter when they starting acknowledging feelings between each other. Cohen was charming and kind, Mia very insecure, but working on her confidence.

What I didn’t love was that some scenes felt cringey. I understand that Mina was getting a make-over and it was supposed to be sweet, but it was heavily focused on this aspect. Like if she changed all of these things people would like and notice her. And I’m NOT saying that if you want to do those things you can, it was the way that the scenes came off that rubbed me the wrong way.

Different pieces were great, others not so much. I know a lot of others who’ve loved this so if you’re interesting in a young adult appropriate romance this could be for you!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warning: bullying

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: With and Without You by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ★★☆ (2.5)
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: April 19th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

#Wibbroka is back with another swoony YA–this time tackling long-distance relationships, in a novel based on their own romantic history.

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be the Couple Most Likely to Marry. They’ve been dating for three solid years, and everyone agrees they’re perfect for each other. But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during possibly the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Before she can say the words, though, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving out of state. Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again. 

Thank you the the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

LETDOWN.

I am a huge fan of Wibberley and Sigemund-Broka. Read and enjoyed all of their previous books. This is the first time I have felt truly MEH about how this entire book went.

This relationship in crisis trope did not play out well. Siena complained entirely too much and kept pitying Patrick at every turn when she should have just BROKEN UP WITH HIM. Stop making ridiculous excuses. It also really bugged me that rather than communicate (since they’ve been in a relationship for 3+ years), she instead decides she wants to sleep with him for the first time even when she acknowledges she’s not in a good place for it. I could give you a list of more instances of Sienna making me want to toss my kindle.

Some of the second half was better. I’ll give it up to that. A few times there was some good communication. And I liked Patrick a lot! There wasn’t enough build up around his character so often he felt very bland, but he seemed sweet and I liked that we got some passion out of him by the end.

There’s more ridiculous miscommunication issues in the last quarter and I can’t say I was even all that happy with the ending. I felt there were enough red flags on both sides that I fell off the wagon of being behind this relationship.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: complete closed-door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gaslighting, gray-area cheating

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Samantha Markum
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 12th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an eARC.

WORKED FOR ME!

Love a great young adult contemporary with some romance. This is definitely one of those reads!

The romance was so sweet!! I loved the fake dating (of course) and how clearly smitten these two were from the beginning, even if Doe didn’t realize it yet. Occasionally she was too concerned about the reasons they were fake dating, but that played into her character growth by the end. I adored Wells and Doe. I thought they were authentically teens, making some poor decisions and learning how to apologize and accept help. Doe was a wonderfully strong main character and one of the best parts of this book.

Some serious themes were also handled (see trigger warnings). While it didn’t seem to fit the original plot of the story, it did work to bring these two schools together. I think it could have benefitted from a bit more flow, but I love a good teamwork moment and This May End Badly accomplished that.

I liked the prank wars and competing schools. I adored Doe’s entire group of friends and all of the coming of age growth and conversations throughout. A really superb young adult novel you should check out too!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one fade to black + light innuendo
  • Violence: some pranks that cause minor harm
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, grooming by a teacher

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