Book Review

Book Review: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 464 pages
Author: Tashie Bhuiyan
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.
How do you make one month last a lifetime?

Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.

Karina is my girlfriend.

Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.

T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to? 

GREAT CHARACTER JOURNEY.

A random selection because I was feeling a contemporary and this was available! And what do you know, I really enjoyed it. I flew through it quickly (one of my favorite aspects of contemporaries) and thought it was overall a charming book.

Karina goes on such a journey. Having anxiety as well, I felt seen by a lot of the portrayals of her anxiety. The counting and breathing, anxiety attacks and more. All things I know intimately that I connected with to Karina.

I absolutely adored the bad boy Ace. Oh my goodness, he was so stinkin’ cute. I loved his demeanor and when he whipped out a fake dating trope I was ecstatic. it played out well and the super cute scenes of them studying together, going on dates and meeting family had me grinning from ear to ear. I love the way he supported Karina and also respected her boundaries and time frame.

There’s not some wildly dramatic issue between them in the end. It’s more of a focus on Karina and owning who she wants to be and what life choices she has the right to make on her own. I cringed many times listening to the beratement from her parents and it broke my heart in two listening to her struggle to come to terms with pleasing them, and becoming a shadow of who she is. Luckily, this book ends on a sweet HEA.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: emotional/verbal/psychological parental abuse, anxiety attacks, depictions of general anxiety

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Book Review

Book Review: Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristin Dwyer

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kristin Dwyer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 10th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

You can’t always go home again.

Ellis and Easton have been inseparable since childhood. But when a rash decision throws Ellis’s life—and her relationship with Easton— into chaos she’s forced to move halfway across the country, far from everything she’s ever known.

Now Ellis hasn’t spoken to Easton in a year, and maybe it’s better that way; maybe eventually the Easton shaped hole in her heart will heal. But when Easton’s mother invites her home for a celebration, Ellis finds herself tangled up in the web of heartache, betrayal, and anger she left behind… and with the boy she never stopped loving.

HOLY WOW.

I have officially become a Kristin Dwyer fan and I’m going to need all of y’all to hop on this debut train.

I think the biggest vibe I got from reading this was a CoHo book but without the grocery list of triggers (though they’re definitely some, please check below!). It was raw and angsty. Rough characters that you just wanted to hug. Moments where I felt ALL THE EMOTIONS and where I stayed up wayyyyy too late because I needed to know everything will be okay (and it will be, no awful ending here!!).

Ellis and Easton meet in this clash of differences. Ellis being from a home where her parents don’t even look her way, too wrapped up in their own vices. Easton with caring brothers and parents who look after one another, even when it’s hard. There’s major themes of social class, determination and mental health. Combined with self-destructive tendencies that stem from trauma. This book hit. It was a messy love story that wasn’t perfect in any sense of the word, but it was Ellis and Easton’s story and I’m so wrapped up in its telling.

Capturing first love and everything that comes with it as chapters rotate between the past and present you won’t be able to put this one down. It was an INCREDIBLE debut. I am shooketh in the best possible ways and I want alllll the Dwyer books now.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one brief & vague open door
  • Violence: low
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: underage drinking, mentions of drugs, child neglect, incarcerated parent

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Exactly Where You Need to Be by Amelia Diane Coombs

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Release Date: June 7th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Turtles All the Way Down meets Love and Luck in this romantic road trip story about a teen girl’s last chance to have an epic summer with her best friend before everything changes.

Florie’s OCD and her mother’s worrying have kept her from a lot of things, like having an after-school job and getting her driver’s license. And now that she’s graduated high school, while her best friend Kacey is headed off to Portland in the fall, Florie’s taking a parent-sanctioned gap year off before starting college. When the decision was made, Florie was on board, but now she can’t ignore the growing itch to become the person she wants to be and venture outside the quaint, boring Washington town she grew up in.

Winning tickets to see her favorite true crime podcast’s live show in California gives her the opportunity to do just that, if only for a few days. So—unbeknownst to their parents—Kacey and Florie set off on a road trip to San Francisco. The only downside in Florie’s opinion? Sam, Kacey’s older brother and Florie’s forever crush, is their ride. The Samson Hodge, who Florie hasn’t seen since winter break, and who she’d prefer to never see again, if possible. But Florie is willing to put up with Sam if it means one last adventure with her best friend.

Making it to San Francisco and back to Washington without their parents catching on isn’t a given, but one thing is for sure: this trip will change everything.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

GROWTH.

I could not put this book down. I adored it.

Florie absolutely just melted my heart and captured my soul. I loved her ability to acknowledge her strengths, but also where she could do better. Florie took so many steps to get to where she was by the end of the book and I was cheering her on the whole way. When she finally stood up to her Mother? HERE FOR IT. I think these intense and deep conversations (at times with the help of a therapist) were exactly what this book needed.

Kasey, Florie’s best friend, was another favorite. I loved her charming nature and acceptance of who Florie is, as she is. Even when the conflicts came up (and Kasey had a right to be upset), the fact that both sides LISTENED and found ways to move through this bump in their friendship was soul soothing. I loved their bond and definitely teared up at the end when the inevitability of college came around.

Now the romance? How adorable was Sam? VERY. I do wish there was a bit more time between them (because I didn’t think the love scene was necessary for these two?) for me to see a bigger connection between them, but let’s face it. I thought all of the times they were together as the two of them were so sweet. Sam also met Florie where she was and I liked that even though miscommunication was apart of their story it wasn’t there for drama. It brought them together and actually opened up more channels in their romantic relationship.

This has already gone on a lot longer than expected because apparently I’m in a gushing mood. If you love a good road trip with some antics along the way, mental health rep, close friendships, first love and finding exactly where you need to be, then this one is for you.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one vague open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, therapy sessions, brief marijuana use, underage drinking

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Ebony LaDelle
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books
Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Hitch meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this witty and romantic teen novel about a self-professed teen love doctor with a popular radio segment who believes he can get a girl who hates all things romance to fall in love with him in only three dates.

Prince Jones is the guy with all the answers—or so it seems. After all, at seventeen, he has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted.

Prince has always dreamed of becoming a DJ and falling in love. But being the main caretaker for his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and his little brother means his dreams will stay just that and the only romances in his life are the ones he hears about from his listeners.

Until he meets Dani Ford.

Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. But her college essay keeps tripping her up and acknowledging what’s blocking her means dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago.

And that’s one thing Dani can’t do.

When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for.

Three dates for the love expert to take his own advice, and just maybe change two lives forever.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

AMAZING DEBUT.

I adored this book y’all! A beautiful coming of age story filled with moments of growing up, overcoming trials, and finding the best foot forward to the big world after high school. Not to mention, a super sweet and swoony romance thrown in too.

I LOVE that this was dual POV. Prince was amazing. I loved how kind he was, and the fierce loyalty he had towards his family and friends. I enjoyed hearing his story and how he learned to take his own advice in forming a relationship with Danielle.

Danielle is a recluse by choice and watching her come back out of her shell made me so happy. While I didn’t love the way she approached her issues, it felt authentic. Especially because of the support around her (from family and friends) she was able to make safe steps forward in overcoming trauma from her past. I thought there were great discussions on processing sexual assault and grief. How it’s okay to lean on others and to find a road back to yourself.

I loved the full body essence of Black joy and the passion filled pages of culture and love for Detroit. The way this entire group of characters made my heart swell had me bursting.

I thought the ending was a bit abrupt and occasionally the pacing felt a little off, but those are minor thoughts towards a fantastic book. Highly recommend!!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: discussions of racism and appropriation, sexual assault (on page), mother with a degenerative disease

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