Book Review

Book Review: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss (Love, Life, and the List #2) by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fan favorite author Kasie West delivers an effervescent story about chasing your dreams and following your heart, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

CUTE, BUT EH.

This was my first Kasie West book y’all. I feel I could have chosen better. This was a case of an audio book being available and I now realize my mistake. NOT enough to turn me off of picking up another West book, but to be more picky about it.

Audio notes: The narrator was fine, the only thing I didn’t love was that I felt she really played on the younger voice for the MC. Which in turn made me not love her as much. It made Lacy seem really young, rather than almost 18.

This was a cute young adult rom-com. Nothing flashy, nothing crazy, just a simple read. I did enjoy it. I was looking for more though. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something was missing.

I didn’t love Lacy as an MC. She did get better over time, it took a long time to get there though. Lacy was naive and purposely difficult while also trying to be everyone’s friend. It was an odd combo. I think Donovan in the picture helped her out. I did really love him (as I do usually prefer the book boyfriend). He was sweet, charming, and way more down to earth. I did love that this was a clean and young audience friendly romance. Some tender kisses was all this book needed to be pleasant.

Between each chapter were scenes from the movie Lacy was recording and I thought by the end I would understand why there were there…nope. Purely to add pages in my mind. I didn’t think they added anything other than us knowing what the movie was about, but it never pertained to the story. It would take me out of the real story every time it went to those scenes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warnings: I felt like Lacy had an unhealthy relationship with food, a few sentences in there made me cringe about how she viewed food, this didn’t over take the book in anyway, just something I noticed

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: It Happened at Christmas by Christen Krumm

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 236 pages
Author: Christen Krumm
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: October 22nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this enchanting YA spin on While You Were Sleeping, Christen Krumm delivers laughter and Christmas sparkle through a swoon-worthy story of first love and belonging.

Life at Iverson Preparatory Boarding School isn’t easy when you’re basically the maid. Murphy Cain spends her days cleaning up after her upper class peers in exchange for tuition while dodging their cutting remarks. All of that changes when she rescues her crush, the popular and hunky Tripp Harrington, after a near-fatal accident and is mistaken as his girlfriend.

Murphy finds herself struggling with the choice to reveal the truth or play along. As Tripp’s girl, his wealthy family will offer Murphy something she’s been craving her whole life—a chance to be one of the “in” crowd. A chance to belong. Without it, she’ll be right back where she started.

It only gets worse as Tripp’s brother Hank enters the picture. He’s handsome, down to earth, and seems to understand Murphy better than anyone else. The only problem? She’s supposed to be dating his brother.

As Christmas break draws to a close, Murphy must decide if telling the truth is worth losing it all or if the risk will bring a greater reward in the end.

PERFECT FOR THE SEASON.

SO CUTE. I am so pleased with this book y’all. It is what a Christmas book should be. All the warm fuzzies and happy endings. This was recommended by a friend (and is on Kindle Unlimited!) and I’m so happy I picked this one out as my first Christmas book of the season (which I realize this post is coming way after the fact).

The romance between Murphy and Hank was really sweet. I thought that for a book with a short time frame the way this romance played out was on point. I was smitten with the flirtatious banter of Hank and watching Murphy trying to figure out her feelings for him. They had a lot of tender quiet moments and perfectly swoony for the season.

It was also rewarding seeing Murphy find a place to belong and call home. After being forced to be a Cinderella at her own school I was intensely frustrated with her whole situation. Hand claps all around that this absurdness was rectified with a glorious moment brought on by Hank. I mean, could this guy get any better?

Atmospherically this screamed Christmas, and that was EXACTLY what I was going for. I feel that’s the best part of seasonal books. Really letting myself feel the spirit of the book made me appreciate and love it all the more.

I did take off a half star because there were a few noticeable grammar mistakes throughout. And I’m only mentioning it now because it happened often enough for me to really pick up on them. Otherwise, the writing was great and it was a super quick short read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary [seasonal: Christmas]
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: mentions of losing parents through a car wreck

Instagram || Goodreads

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

Instagram || Goodreads

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.

Instagram || Goodreads

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

Instagram || Goodreads

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

Instagram || Goodreads

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

Instagram || Goodreads