Book Review

Book Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: May 22nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Shouldn’t a girl get to star in her own love story?

Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It’s inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.

Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare’s R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.

In their fresh and funny debut, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka break down the high school drama to find there’s always room for familial love, romantic love, and—most importantly—self-love.

WHEREFORE ART THOU OWEN?

I read this book after reading If I’m Being Honest (which is their second book). I can definitely say the sophomore book is a lot better. I still enjoyed this a lot, but not as much.

I had a hard time connecting with Megan. I appreciated her strong will and tenacity in regards to some thigns. At some points she was a biiiiit much for me. I felt she was too casual in her friendships and relationships (until the very end of the book). Which I realize is a part of her character arc, it still made things frustrating for me.

Owen though, I LOVE HIM. He’s precious. I don’t appreciate him cheating on Cosima though and I’m glad that ended swiftly after. I have no idea why she was even in the story. BECAUSE SHE WASN’T IN THE STORY. That may not make a lot of sense, if you read this book, you’ll understand. Besides that Owen was sweet, attentive, and a truly kind person that I was smitten with.

There’s quite a bit of drama in this (and I know it takes after Romeo and Juliet, so logically, this makes sense). I don’t mind drama, but so many people cheating on each other and a lot of casual discussion about sex is personally not my cup of tea. Especially for high school kids.

I liked the plot and that Megan got a chance to really dive into who she wants to be as she graduates high school. The play was a fun mix-in and kept the scenes rolling right along. This is a very quick read and it helped me through a reading slump.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a lot of casual discussion of high schoolers sex lives, a little detailed love scene
  • Trigger warnings: cheating boyfriends/girlfriends, divorce

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Book Review

ARC Book Review and Blog Tour!: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 368 pages
Author: Emma Lord
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the digital copy and for the opportunity to be apart of the blog tour! All opinions are my own.

SO CUTE & CHARMING Y’ALL.

This is the first book I’ve read that comes out in 2020! And it was great. Love when that happens. This is such a simply sweet high school rom-com. Lets break it down.

Okay, Pepper and Jack? PRECIOUS. From the synopsis I assumed that the drama of their budding relationship would resonate from the Twitter war and was surprised (in a good way) when it went in another direction. I thought this created a lot less of a mess and was very well done. Pepper was a great MC, but the real star to me was Jack. I LOVE THAT LITTLE CINNAMON ROLL. The poor guy just wanted to be appreciated for him (don’t we all?). I love that Pepper always knew who he was (and never mistook him for his twin). They had great banter and amazing chemistry through Twitter, texting and being together in general. It was a great slow-forming (I wouldn’t say burn, only because this book isn’t sexual at all in nature – it’s a very YA romance, which is another great bonus point) romance that had me cheering by the time I finally got my kiss scene. I was loving all of the fluff these two were giving.

I am so here for Pepper being a baker y’all. As one myself, it really solidified my connection with her. I love how willing she was to help others and tried to genuinely be kind in situations where I would understand her flipping out. Pepper had to deal with a lot on all fronts; school, mom, friends, etc. and handled better than I probably would have.

Pepper’s Mom though? Ugh. I knew she was up to something and had surmised what her “reasoning” would be and was not impressed (not with the writing or anything, just in how this character acted). If anyone needed to grow up it was her. I didn’t like the way she treated Pepper and was over her acting like a child by the end. I’m glad she did have some resolution and started acting like an actual adult.

The writing was pretty solid, I felt at times there were a lot of repetitive phrasing. So much so that I’m noting it here because of how often it occurred. I liked the New York setting and thought it was a great quirk that Pepper was afraid to go outside of her bubble to further places in Manhattan (because that would SO BE ME). I haven’t read a book with Twitter and burger/grilled cheese restaurants at the fore front. This made me love it more because I felt it was a newer look for young adult contemporary. And for someone that doesn’t even have a Twitter account, I didn’t mind one bit.

This was a great debut book and I’m excited to see what Emma Lord has in store next. If this is any indication, it will be another hit. Definitely check this one out! It’s as cute as it sounds.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: some language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

Author Bio:

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

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Book Review

Book Review: Field Notes on Love on Jennifer E. Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 271 pages
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

PURCHASING A TRAIN TICKET ASAP.

This was really cute! It was a surprisingly very short book too. It was clever and fun, and I was sad the ending was so abrupt. Though I do feel like I need to take my husband up on his offer to take me on a train ride (he’s only been asking me the entire time we’ve been together…)

I adore Hugo. He was sweet, tender-hearted, and a truly well meaning person. Hugo had a wonderful character arc over this fast paced book as he got to seek out what would make him happy. I think it’s a bit coming of age because we are all seeking to find what path we want to take after high school and Hugo was able to do that with the help of a stranger, Mae.

Mae had to grow on me. I didn’t love her personality at first, but I think Hugo truly brought out the best in her. And her Nana. I love her Nana! Such a spunky and loving character. Her support for Mae provided her the opportunity to figure out that it’s okay to open your heart up. I loved watching Mae work on her new movie and thought it was a unique concept that gave a different perspective to everyone who participated.

I love the train traveling concept and wish the time could have been spread out more. I think that’s why it was a short book though, a train ride is only so long. It was a growing up kind of experience for both Hugo and Mae. The ending stopped way before I thought it would and would have loved a bit of an epilogue to know how this couple is doing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: none

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Book Review

Book Review: Be the Girl by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 313 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 21st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Almost sixteen-year-old Aria Jones is starting over. New postal code, new last name, new rules. But she doesn’t mind, because it means she can leave her painful regrets behind. In the bustling town of Eastmonte, she can become someone else. Someone better.

With the Hartford family living next door, it seems she will succeed. Sure, Cassie Hartford may be the epitome of social awkwardness thanks to her autism, but she also offers an innocent and sincere friendship that Aria learns to appreciate. And Cassie’s older brother, Emmett—a popular Junior A hockey player with a bright future—well … Aria wishes that friendship could lead to something more. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, maybe it would.

But Aria soon finds herself in a dicey moral predicament that could derail her attempt at a fresh start. It is her loyalty to Cassie and her growing crush on Emmett that leads her to make a risky move, one that earns her a vindictive enemy who is determined to splinter her happy new world.

HAD A GREAT MESSAGE.

I picked this up namely for the authors’ name. I love The Simple Wild and how could I pass up a free book on Amazon Prime? Well, I couldn’t.

Though, this wasn’t the contemporary romance I thought I was getting. Was I disappointed? Only very little. Be the Girl has a strong anti-bullying message and I can definitely get on board with that. I think this should be a book more people pick up. Tucker captured a lot of issues that teenagers face daily that need more spotlight.

I really liked the boy next door romance. It was cute, simple, and flowed pretty smoothly. Emmett was easy to love and had all the makings of the typical high school romance character, good guy. Aria and Emmett had some great banter, a few heated kissing scenes and a lot of genuinely good conversation.

The real star was Emmett’s sister, Cassie. She was funny, genuine, kind, and seriously brought the best out of this book. I loved seeing that her and Emmett’s relationship wasn’t perfect. They deeply love each other, but could both struggle to communicate at times. Emmett protected her fiercely, and I love that Aria never had a second thought about being a true friend to her.

Supporting cast was on point. I love that parents were actually involved in their children’s lives. They were fun and quirky. Add in an old Uncle and an old dog and this cast really sang.

I would have loved a much longer ending. It was somewhat abrupt after the last few choices from Aria in how she handled starting over. I wanted to have more of her and Emmett’s relationship. They were getting that golden moment of being able to start again with the truth laid out.

Some of the bigger plot moments are left unmentioned to avoid spoilers. They do focus around bullying [including cyber-bullying] and the horrendous affects it can have one someone. Anyone can become a bully and it’s important to pay attention to those moments. This was a tale of regret and redemption for Aria.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses and heated make-outs (clothes stayed on, except for one time shirts were removed)
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse, bullying, cyber-bullying, underage drug use (marijuana), Chapter 22: mention of a suicide by overdose, bullying someone with a learning disability

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Book Review

Book Review: The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 347 pages
Author: C.G. Drews
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: April 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can two broken boys find their perfect home?

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie.

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

ALL THE FEELS.

I devoured this book in hours y’all. It was a quick read, with lots of emotions and a cute love story too. It’s a loose Goldilocks and the three bears retelling and I thought it did that service well.

The story itself started out a little slow, but the more I got to know Sam, Avery and the De Lainey family I was smitten by them. This is a dark contemporary though. It is not going to be a fluffy read (though there were a few fluffy moments). Sam is a very well fleshed out character who has some personal troubles from his past that he’s running away from rather than trying to work through. He’s never had anyone support him while he’s been supporting his older brother who has autism. This is really a journey for Sam as he finally learns what it feels like to have people take care of you.

You won’t even get a CRAZY HAPPY ENDING. You will get the ending this book should have. As I already mentioned it’s not a fluffy contemporary. Sam (with his new support system) has to confront his past to move on from it. I love the hopeful message it gave.

The bond between brothers was amazing. Most of the books I read are love stories, so the focus on brothers was different for me. I adored the way it was written. I found myself completely caught up in their lives and the flashback chapters shook me every time. I love how deeply Avery and Sam love each other (even when fighting).

This does have a touch of romance that took up the perfect amount of page time. It wasn’t the focus. It was stinkin’ cute though to watch Sam try to flirt and apologize to Moxie. He was precious and maybe a bit desperate. Moxie was bold and I love watching their interactions. It was sweet and endearing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dark contemporary
  • Language: some
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: physical, stabbing, see more in Trigger Warnings
  • Trigger warnings: child abuse (physical, verbal), homelessness, anxiety

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I’m not quite sure what we’re counting as winter, but these are the books I’d like to get through by…February? Sure, February works! It’s definitely still cold then.

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War 1 by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

As per my last Top Ten Tuesday post I’m trying to read some Christmas books this year and I just picked this up from the library! I’ve been hearing great things and can’t wait to read it.


ARC: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2) by M.L. Greye

Super excited that I’m able to help out M.L. Greye and receive a copy of her new book (out January 3rd!). I loved the first book and can’t wait to see where this series is going.


ARC: Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

Okay, this cover though? So good. This is one of my Netgalley reads I need to get to! This book sounded super interested and I’m excited that I received a copy!


Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve been on the fence forever about reading this but a dear friend got it for me for my birthday because this is one of her favorite books EVER. I really want to see what the hoopla is about. Hopefully this winter!


East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

OBSESSED WITH THESE COVERS (check out my Insta post). This was another birthday book that I need to finally get too.


The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

I LOVE EVERYTHING THIS WOMAN WRITES. No seriously. Everything. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS.


All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace

Oh guys. MERMAAAAAAAAAAIDS. There is no reason I won’t be reading this book, you better believe it.


Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson

But really. It’s time to catch up on these AMAZING SERIES. I’m ready to tackle another 1,200+ page saga.


The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

This has nothing to do with winter other than I’m trying to make it through this series. Two more books to go!!


10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Totally a bookstagram-made-me-do-it book. BUT IT LOOKS SO CUTE.

What’s on your winter TBR? Do we have any of the same books? Lets talk in the comments! Happy holidays!

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Book Review

Book Review: You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 304 pages
Author: Erin Hahn
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

WOULD WORK WELL AS A MOVIE.

This was more unique to any YA contemporary I’ve read in recent past in regards to the setting. It’s set on a country music tour and that provided a whole array of situations including tour buses, hotels and concerts. There were some great scenes from those options alone.

My biggest gripe was that I felt it would work SUPER great as a movie. There were a lot of concert scenes and lyrics throughout the novel and I wanted to see those brought to life. Hearing the voices, seeing the emotions and body language of Annie and Clay on stage would really create an awesome movie. As a book, it was hard to truly convey everything.

The love story wasn’t bad, everything just happened SO FAST. It’s a very short book (under 300 pages) and things are thrown out in rapid fire. The relationship came off a bit insta-love, yet it was full of artist passion so in some odd way it kind of worked? Jury is still out for me. I will say, I loved how it came together at the end. That was a solid happily ever after that made sense and made me smile.

This was somehow naive and adult all in the same breath. The writing felt more on the younger side of YA, but the situations were DARK. I mention this in my trigger warnings, the descriptions of a child finding two who had committed suicide was probably one of the darker things I have read recently. Then having to watch a teen go through an addiction to alcohol and coping with grief was a lot to handle.

I enjoyed seeing the evolution of Clay and how he learned to cope with his choices and grief from situations out of his control. He and Annie were able to feed off of each other to help get to higher ground. I liked their connection and hope that they were finally able to find.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, and mentions of spending the night together but no big details
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: drug use, underage drinking, alcoholism, loss of loved ones, double suicide (discussed throughout book, detailed in chapter 23), overdose, depression

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