Book Review

ARC Book Review: Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill

Rating: ★★★☆ (3.5)
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Kaitlyn Hill
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: April 5th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

This summer, Reese Camden is trading sweet tea and Southern hospitality for cold brew and crisp coastal air. She’s landed her dream marketing internship at Friends of Flavor, a wildly popular cooking channel in Seattle. The only problem? Benny Beneventi, the relentlessly charming, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing culinary intern–and her main competition for the fall job.

Reese’s plan to keep work a No Feelings Zone crumbles like a day-old muffin when she and Benny are thrown together for a video shoot that goes viral, making them the internet’s newest ship. Audiences are hungry for more, and their bosses at Friends of Flavor are happy to deliver. Soon Reese and Benny are in an all-out food war, churning homemade ice cream, twisting soft pretzels, breaking eggs in an omelet showdown–while hundreds of thousands of viewers watch.

Reese can’t deny the chemistry between her and Benny. But the more their rivalry heats up, the harder it is to keep love on the back burner.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

WELL, I ADORED BENNY.

I really wanted to love this more than my review shows and while I did like a lot of it, there were some aspects that held me back. Something I did love was the setting!! I loved the concept of a company with online cooking videos and the like.

Benny. He was top notch one of the better YA love interests I’ve read in awhile. He was incredibly supportive, realistic, and charming. I love that he was the sunshine between the two and had a positive attitude. Benny was all things sweet and the grand gesture at the end was completely over the top and I loved it.

Reese. I was much slower to warm up to her. I didn’t mind that she was the grump in the relationship and I liked that they got together halfway through! She showed some growth and, but towards the end it got a bit stagnant. I didn’t love the way the conflict was handled and I felt my care for her decisions wane as she became increasingly whiny. It was okay.

I realize this is a contemporary romance and I love that. That’s why I picked it up. That’s what drew me in. Unfortunately the larger agenda of the book felt forced and pushy. Even for things I am all for and in support of, I felt suffocated by that storyline over what I thought was the main aspect of the plot (the romance).

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: light
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: skeevy older men, misogyny, slut-shaming

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir comes a brilliant, unforgettable, and heart-wrenching contemporary YA novel about family and forgiveness, love and loss, in a sweeping story that crosses generations and continents.

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

MUST READ.

I’ve sat here in a struggle to put words together enough to explain how I think this should be a required reading type of book. Filled with some things I understand, but many more I never will. This is one of those stories that we need to hear, need to acknowledge and need to learn from.

The nuanced level at which the title, All My Rage, played out on page was impeccable. I saw the rage, I felt the rage. A complex emotion that stems from many different avenues was written out again and again in raw and deep ways. This isn’t a light-hearted read by any means. Yet with the discussion of religion and love for those around us and far from us, hope still stands like a pillar in dark times.

It was visceral and full of broken-hearted people trying to rise from the ashes. I loved the main characters, Noor, Salahudin, and Misbah. Each told their own story as they wove around each other. The strength of this story is immense. The writing was captivating and the pacing made the pages fly by. I loved the ending and these characters are going to stay with me for a long time.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary + Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drug and alcohol addiction, mentions of repressed sexual assault, physical domestic abuse, Islamophobia, racism, death, tense exchanges with law enforcement

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Book Review

Book Review: Sunkissed by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined…and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!

After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.

But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.

HIT HOME.

This made me want to relive some of my high school years and figure out some aspects of my life. I love how this was approached. Watching Avery find her passion and owning her truths to her family and friends really resonated. I have been deeply reminded why I love Kasie West’s books and the way she’s able to captivate and fill my cup.

Avery was a great teenage main character. Not over the top dramatic, but honest in her faults, and struggling to remember her strengths. I loved her character progression and how she took a chance on her summer to try new things.

Add in a sweet romance with Brooks and I was smitten. Teen, summer love! Oh how cute. I liked their relationship a lot too. From being honest with one another, and learning (and admitting) about communications issues felt true. This whole book was a warm summer hug.

I read it in a day and it was super cute and relatable to my soul.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary + Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a parent in a care home (unable to care for themselves after a stroke)

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Book Review

Book Review: Once Upon A Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Monica Gomez-Hira
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Jenny Han meets “Jane the Virgin” in this flashy and fun Own Voices romcom from debut author Monica Gomez-Hira.

Carmen Aguilar just wants to make her happily ever after come true. Except apparently “happily ever after” for Carmen involves being stuck in an unpaid summer internship! All she has to do is perform! In a ball gown! During the summer. In Miami.

Fine. Except that Carmen’s company is hired for her spoiled cousin Ariana’s over the top quinceañera.

And of course, her new dance partner at work is none other than Mauro Reyes, Carmen’s most deeply regrettable ex.

If Carmen is going to move into the future she wants, she needs to leave the past behind. And if she can manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off Mauro’s texts, and stopping Ariana from ruining her own quinceañera Carmen might just get that happily ever after after all. 

A LET DOWN.

This book really took me back. I was in a few friends quince’s growing up and all of the practicing, trying on dresses and learning new dances reminded me of the wonderful times those were.

There were many many ups and downs in Carmen’s journey. I think there was a bit tooooo much drama for me. Now that I’m thinking on it, I don’t remember many people giving out genuine apologies? Things felt brushed under the rug, even at the end. Carmen spent the entire (no, really) book angry. So angry at everything. I love a good character arc, but waiting until 95% to give it, was definitely too long to wait. Way more development was needed.

Mauro was super sweet at least! I liked his efforts in reconnectiong and understanding what happened intitially between him and Carmen. The enemies to lovers (+ second chance) trope is always a good decision so I wasn’t mad about that.

The plot was there and I enjoyed what I got overall. It was muddled on and off with many tangents that I didn’t know what the main focus was supposed to be. I didn’t like but maybe 2 (of the many) side characters. Nobody ever got better. No growth to be found by anyone who deseperately needed it. Waverly was an unsung hero and I wish more focus had been put on her friendship with Carmen.

Other aspects like Carmen working for a company that dresses up and princesses/princes for parties was fun. The parties with the little kids made me smile and was wholesomely sweet. Carmen’s video-editing hobby was really cool too! I would have loved to have seen even more of that as well.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to closed door scenes
  • Violence: a lot of yelling and familial conflicts, brief physical altercation
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: brief mention of sexual harrassment in the first chapter or two

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