Book Review

Book Review: You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 30th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.

Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.

So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…

Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.

It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.

Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?

From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand-new pulse-pounding thriller. It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder when three old friends relive an epic ditch day, and it goes horribly–and fatally–wrong. 

GOOD, NOT GREAT.

I feel like I don’t have a lot to say about this one, which is why it’s more in my “meh” rating section. This was a good mystery. I really appreciated the fast paced nature and how quickly I flew through it at least.

What I struggled with were the characters. I don’t think I enjoyed any of them? Everyone was…fine. And that’s how I felt throughout. I do love a good multi-POV book and the changing nature and narrative of the story. Things got twisted and while I saw a lot of it coming I was surprised by a few aspects.

It kind of ruined it for me at the end with how many people said, why didn’t you just tell us/the police? Because yeah, that would have ended this entire book (which takes place over one day) before it really began. A mixed bag of thoughts, I still enjoy the author’s writing style and look forward to her next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drug overdose, selling of drugs, murder and attempted murder, an inappropriate teacher/student relationship

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Sarah Suk
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 18t, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

IT WAS FINE.

I really liked this on audio and recommend that avenue if you love audio books like I do! Easy listen and quick to move through.

The unique setting with high school businesses is what initially drove me to pick this one up. It was one of my favorite parts of the book. I think it would’ve been cool if my school had offered opportunities like that. This was a unique high school contemporary plot.

Wes was my true hero. He was adorable and such a cinnamon roll. I love his shy self, and also the side of him that learned to stand up for his passions and choices. He exhibited the most growth over the story and his relationship with Valerie was precious. Valerie I struggled with because she was intensely stubborn until almost the very end. By then I was over the whole scenario and it created some unnecessary drama. It felt like enemies to lovers with only one person thinking they were enemies.

Lots of great learning topics too. From sibling rivalries and demanding parents, and having to prove yourself over and over again. I liked a lot of these conversations too because it felt true to the YA nature of the book and reminded me of many things I went through in high school too.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a grandparent with Parkinson’s

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Serena Kaylor
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: July 26th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn is a statistical genius who has dreamed her whole life of discovering new mathematical challenges at a school like Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve, so her parents are worried about sending her halfway across the world. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. She has six weeks to show her parents she can pull off the role of “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding in a library.

Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any rules, and there is no equation for teenage interactions. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theater kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular—and, annoyingly gorgeous—British son of the camp founders, she realizes that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than your fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize that there’s more to life than she can find in the pages of a book?

In this sparkling debut from Serena Kaylor, Long Story Short is a YA rom-com about a homeschooled math genius who finds herself out of her element at a theater summer camp and learns that life—and love—can’t be lived by the (text)book.

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

I had a few friends rave about this book so I was sufficiently hyped by the time I picked it up, and it did not disappoint. LST was incredible and I’m in awe at this debut.

I resonated with Beatrice so much. I love that she was a socially awkward heroine, who knew what she wanted, but needed a few more steps to get there. I appreciated that true support from her parents and how walking into the summer camp beautiful friendships grew. I LOVED the friendships and how supportive they were. And also how they showed making mistakes and apologizing. There’s room for growth in a safe space. Beatrice changed leaps and bounds, and yet still remained at her core, herself. The anxiety rep was one of my favorites too. I liked the approach to it and the openness of speaking to a therapist as well. The combination made for the best kind of read.

The romance (because we know I’m a sucker for romance) was perrrrrfect. The angsty hate to love vibes were off the charts. The banter and swoony moments, and gosh dang THE HANDS TOUCHING. A small hand touch moment IS THE BEST DANG THING. I don’t know how many times I started chanting, kiss kiss kiss. I was on the edge of my seat with Beatrice and Nik and it was everything I love in a YA romance.

This setting took me by surprise too. I’m hit/miss on summer camp books. Clearly this was a HIT. I was even enjoying all of the Shakespeare stuff too! And that Shakespeare line battle? GOLD. I think I could probably go on forever about my new found love for this book (and author). Read it. Read it. Read it.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: underage alcohol consumption, panic attack (on page), depictions of anxiety

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph

Book Review

Book Review: XOXO by Axie Oh

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Axie Oh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 13th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.

Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.

When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

ABSOLUTELY ADORED.

This book was so dang cute!! I loved it. It also made me very hungry and all of the Korean dishes sounded delicious. I loved the cultural aspects too and being in Seoul and getting an idea for what being a K-pop star entails. Learning about training, the schools, how groups are formed. It was great getting a better understanding of a world I didn’t know much about.

The romance was precious. I thought Jenny and Jaewoo had a fun and interesting meet-cute. There were many unique aspects to a young adult contemporary romance and it was a breath of fresh air. A quick meeting led to a bit of slow burn as they tackled feelings for one another. I love the Jenny was a cellist and both had their complete own lives and passions they enjoyed. Choosing to be together was something they both wanted and I love a good, mushy ending scene. If you’re looking for a celebrity / forbidden romance in YA form, this is one to read!!

Full of tight friendships, those mean girls you expect, and running away from paparazzi, I definitely felt like I was watching a drama. Though it never went over board. I love how natural the movement of the story went and how easy it was to read. I was enamored from chapter one and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs

Instagram || Goodreads