Book Review

ARC Book Review: Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this coming-of-age romance perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, scandal and romance collide when an ambitious teen returns to her hometown only to have her plans interrupted after falling for the town’s “bad boy”—a.k.a. her childhood best friend.

Sometimes to find the good, you have to embrace the bad.

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is.

Thank you to the publisher, Razorbill and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own!

I’D CHASE LUCKY TOO.

This was a more mature YA book. That’s what I kept thinking every time I was reading this. The main character was a high school senior and I kept picturing her as a college girl home for the summer. Take that for what you will, I still enjoyed the book.

There’s a lot of depth to this novel. It isn’t a super fluffy YA rom-com. The further I read, the more of the inner story unfurled in front of me. And I really like what I got from it. That communication is critically important to maintaining the bonds we value.

And usually, I hate when communication is clearly an issue and a brief conversation would solve all the problems. Bennett does a great job of not making me feel this way. While yes, I got frustrated with them (mostly Josie’s mother), I also understood the pain and heartache that each of the Saint-Martin women were struggling with. Another highlight, the fact that this was also heavily about a group of women in a family learning how to be together and not let differences tear them down. I liked the way reveals and emotions came out towards the end as the real picture of everyone’s past came to light. Josie took in a lot of information in a small amount of time. Did she make some mistakes? YES. Did she also learn from them? YES. And that’s what really sold this book for me.

The trope of choice for Chasing Lucky was childhood friends. Lucky and Josie knew each other back when she still lived in town, but after moving away, lost touch. Enter Josie coming back, enter cute Lucky 2.0. I, for once, dare say, I liked the way this trope was written. There was good banter, a little bit of angst as they figured each other out again and I felt the connection between them. I WILL ALSO SAY, I have rolled my eyes at love scenes in Bennett’s previous books, this was not the case this time. Oh it was so much better, and so much more realistic. I definitely adored this story a lot more because of it.

I constantly found myself wanting to pick this book up to read it. It was a solid YA book and I love the journey this story took me on. I appreciate the sentiments that were expressed and thought the conclusion was everything it should be.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; one little detailed fade to black scene
  • Trigger warnings: someone being arrested for destruction of property; a secondary character posting and showing off a nude photo of Josie’s mother and using it for revenge; car wreck (no one is critically injured)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance / Magical Realism
Length: 400 pages
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel &Friends
Release Date: November 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the audio book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

IT WAS CUTE.

Since I read this an audio book ARC, I wanted to mention my thoughts on the audio. I thought the narrator was great and found it to be easy listening. I kept it at 1.5x – 1.75x depending on what I was doing at the time while listening. Definitely would recommend reading it as an audio book if you enjoy that option!

I love Marissa Meyer’s books. I am a big fan of her fantasy books. Reading her first contemporary romance? ALL OVER IT.

This was a cute Beatles-inspired young adult romance. I loved the beach setting and marine ecology aspects. It felt relevant without being pushy and I learned a lot just from the setting alone. There was knowledge of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing multiple marine animals and the center goes about achieving their ultimate goal of getting these animals back to the wild.

Prudence was our dear main character. Oh, how I struggled with her for 80% of the book. I kept expecting some more character growth from her, but felt it happened too close to the end. She leaned towards selfish and so completely single-mindedly focused that I wanted to jump in the book and tell her what she’s missing. With all of the damage done before getting to some evolution in her character it became a bit of a let down.

Quint was precious. And I’m genuinely amazed he was cool with Prudence being rude to him over and over again. I loved his interactions and banter. Quint had a great back story and was clearly devoted to helping the sea creatures in his care. I loved his nature and passion.

I did love their initial at last they kissed moment. It came at the right time and was sweet. I would have loved a longer ending with more of them because by the time I was really feeling it, the ending had arrived.

It’s overall a fun book and I’m happy that I read it. I love Meyer’s writing and will continue to read all the books by her. I’m also hoping for maybe more books with Pru’s brother, Jude (who I adored) and maybe even her friends? I thought there was some open options for more contemporaries in this world and I would love to read those too.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: very little and light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: injured sea animals that washed ashore, someone breaking their leg from a fall

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Book Review

Book Review: Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A boy desperate to hold on, a girl ready to let go.

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives.

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.

LOVE A COLLEGE TOUR.

I am a huge fan of books by these authors. I have adored them and was really excited for book three! This one was definitely different than the previous and while good, and had some moments I enjoyed, I didn’t feel it had the same flair as previously.

I did like the journey that both of the characters went on. It was a true journey of learning about yourself and trying to find the best path for YOU. I love how this explored options and plans with Fitz and Juniper. They each had their own personal struggles that were unique, but also had pieces that you can relate to.

The journey was fun. I really enjoyed this trope in this context. I loved seeing different campuses and experiences. It was easy to follow along and the writing as always, is spectacular.

Everything did end abruptly. And I mean, I flipped to the last page, and didn’t realize it was the last page. That confused me and left me with few feelings of resolution. It definitely need an epilogue or something. I don’t mind how the character interactions were left, it made sense to the story, but the rest of it was really open-ended.

The chemistry between Fitz and Juniper was pretty solid. I actually felt the quick connection between them. They moved quickly (and at times, too quickly), and had all the hints at that insta-love/insta-connection you want more from. I would have looooved even more from them.

Another cute and light-hearted, yet with some true moments of childhood-being-over reckoning that I enjoy seeing in young adult books. I’m anxiously awaiting for what they write next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: occasionally strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs; a few closed door scenes, one little detail scene
  • Trigger warnings: a main characters Mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness (early on-set dementia)

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Book Review

Book Review: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 512 pages
Author: Abigail Johnson
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can life begin again… every other weekend?

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

FELT THIS.

I love when you can feel really connected to a book. I felt that way from the very beginning of this. I have divorced parents and had a lot of back and forth growing up. While I didn’t experience everything in this book, many of the emotions and thoughts really hit home.

The bond between Adam and Jolene was so tender and made me want to hug them both. I loved watching their relationship burgeon from friends to lovers in this sweet, and heartening way. It was gorgeous writing that brought you into the story and held you there. I had no problems with motivation to pick this up. I wanted to follow these characters stories and to what I was hoping was a happily ever after.

My only drawback in this one was the length. As a contemporary being 500+ pages, some scenes dragged on. While still enjoying the story I felt it took away from it.

I love how Jolene and Adam just got each other. Going through such a difficult situation and having someone by your side that gets you, oh be still my heart. Absolutely couldn’t get enough. This is definitely a hidden gem in the YA category and one I would highly recommend!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: divorced, separated parents; adultery, alcoholism, a mom trying to make her child sick, toxic relationships (a side character friend of Jolene’s)

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