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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Book Review

ARC Book Review: What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: April 20th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An academic enemies-to-lovers YA with all the nerdy drama, high school antics, and heartpounding romance of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead.

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan. 

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

MY FAVORITE TROPE.

This was a fun ride! I enjoyed this one much more than their last (but not as much as my favorite, If I’m Being Honest).

I am always here for an enemies to lovers trope and this brought the heat in that department. The snarky banter and high-jinks that Alison and Ethan got into just to prove a point had me both laughing and eye-rolling. Oh teenagers! I liked how their relationship progressed once they finally started to admit some feelings. I wish it had happened sooner because it was adorable after that point.

There were some missed opportunities for character growth, especially for Alison. Dealing with her sister being home and trying to be the best at everything I was hoping to see some understanding and maybe relaxing a little on her grip. By the VERY end I could see that change starting. It would helped me love Alison’s character more if this had started sooner and we got to see that play out in her interactions.

The competitive nature was almost too far to come back from and I’m glad it ended when it did. It did create some clear tension and heat between Ethan and Alison. I liked that at times, it did deviate from the expected and some exploration of self was occurring. Honestly, I think it would be fun to follow these two to college to see what happens next. I enjoy that these books have clear teenage characters who are growing into themselves and make mistakes and remind me of that time in my life too.

And I always love a good run-in with old characters!

Overall audience notes;

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses, heated make out (with some clothing removed)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult mystery
Length: 384 pages
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION.

Well this held my attention from the get-go.

How trippy to find out you’re all of a sudden an heiress because someone decided to give you all of their money? WhOa.

What a wild mansion. I loved that there was so much to the entire house. The random tunnels, hidden spaces, the amount of rooms, all of it. Without such a obscene amount of rooms to create this land there wouldn’t have been a story. It added many adrenaline pumping moments and times where I was taken by surprise.

The riddles were brilliant and well put together. I love when I can’t solve things right away because it really adds to the mystery and suspense of the novel.

Throw in a group of four brothers with hidden pasts and their own issues and we’ve got a ourselves some side characters. I loved these Hawthorne brothers!! What didn’t I love? That dang love triangle. Boooooo. It wasn’t too much of a distraction, but the stronger feelings became the more I was hoping things would go one way or another.

After that bomb drop of an ending I’m invested. I want to know how this sequel works out because I have twice the amount of questions.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: guns, physical, someone passing away from a heart condition

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