book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by. Suzanne Park | ARC Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous

Authors: Suzanne Park

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 6/1/21

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Categories: Social Media, Young Adult, Romance, Summer Camp, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

A social media influencer is shipped off to a digital detox summer camp in this funny coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Love and Gelato .

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever

Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.

  • I thought this was a fun premise for a story. Youtuber gets sent to technology detox camp to reconnect with life again and learn about what’s important in her life. Sunny isn’t even a big time social media influencer but someone trying to get to that level but her parents thinks whatever she is doing is enough to send her to camp.
  • Sunny is a fun character – she’s from L.A. and gets sent to Iowa. For the most part she is bored without all her technology. She makes some friends at camp and even meets a boy who works at the farm. She comes off self-centered because she is very focused on her youtube career but I did like how she stood up for herself when dealing with microagressions on the farm because she is Korean-American.
  • Sunny and Theo’s romance is very cute and sweet. The two of them are opposites in every aspect. She’s a city girl, he’s a farm boy. He’s traditional, she’s a risk taker. I liked seeing their relationship grow.
  • I did like the message in the story – which is about finding a life with balance. Sunny makes good points about why technology is needed and helpful. I also loved that she stands up to Theo and Ms. Davenport about her choice to become a social media star and she works hard at her craft to try and reach her dreams. I like that she made it clear that going to college isn’t the only way to success these days. I agree and I went to college haha. But Coach, the “counselor” at camp makes good points too about making human connections face to face. I like how she connects with the elderly, it reminds me of the times I volunteered as a teen in nursing homes. So I like how this story shows how connecting online and offline is a good thing.
  • Triggers: microagression
  • This one is a quick, lighthearted read. It’s light and cute with the romance and nothing that went too deep into the issues.
  • Not sure why one of the campers, Wendy, really hated on Sunny. Competition? She just didn’t like her? I’m not sure and it’s not really addressed.

I think we all could be reminded now and then, or everyday, how connecting online and offline can be a great thing when there is a balance between the two. The author conveyed this message very well in the story. I found this book to be an entertaining, quick, lighthearted read with a good message and sweet romance. This one is perfect for teens and young adult readers.

📚 ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, contemporary, romance

The Soulmate Equation | ARC Review

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Title: The Soulmate Equation

Author: Christina Lauren

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 5/18/21

Publisher: Gallery Books

Categories: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Single Mom

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

  • Jess is a single parent of a 7 year old girl, Juno. I totally related to Jess as a mom being frazzled and just trying to get through the day. I’m not a single mom, but there are times when I feel like one haha, so I admired how Jess did what she had to do to keep them afloat with the help of her grandparents and best friend.
  • Jess’s best friend Fizzy is the BEST ever. 😍 I love how she’s a romance author. Fizzy is funny, adventurous, says what she wants to say, does what she wants to do and she and Jess have the best relationship. The two of them together made me laugh so much! Their dialogue was perfect.
  • The importance of family comes through in this one, not only because Jess is a mom, but her own mother gave her up, and was out of her life for a very long time. Jess was raised by her grandparents and they are the sweetest. I love their little family.
  • What is it about the geeky guy turning handsome/hot/successful that I love? Revenge of the nerds much? I love how River is this gorgeous guy, very much into his work…but he used to be the unpopular geeky kid in high school. Awww!
  • The romance is so good! The chemistry is palpable. I love how they meet, how they get together, how they grow as a couple and try to figure out their feelings. This story made me feel good and happy. 😍
  • I found the matchmaking app using DNA very interesting. Some of the science and statistics went over my head but it was still very fascinating.
  • Jess’s mom is a recovering addict or she’s supposed to be. She shows up in Jess’s life to ask for money and I feel for Jess but like River says, she definitely takes charge when she has to and is decisive.
I thoroughly and happily love The Soulmate Equation. I was invested with Jess and River’s love story and their chemistry is off the charts. I love how they could talk science and statistics and understand one another even when I didn’t understand them. I laughed a lot because Jess’s best friend is fantastic and for me that was the other love story in this book, the love in friendship. This is that kind of book where I wanted to find out what happens after the ending because I fell in love with this little family. This story is heartfelt, fun, smart, and I wish it never had to end.

🧬 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, E-book, romance, Young Adult

When We Were Infinite by. Kelly Loy Gilbert | Book Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Title: When We Were Infinite

Author: Kelly Loy Gilbert

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 3/9/21

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Friendship, Romance, Abuse, Mental Health, Identity, Contemporary

All Beth wants is for her tight-knit circle of friends — Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou — to stay together. With her family splintered and her future a question mark, these friends are all she has — even if she sometimes wonders if she truly fits in with them. Besides, she’s certain she’ll never be able to tell Jason how she really feels about him, so friendship will have to be enough.

Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him—and how much of herself she’s willing to give up.

  • This story starts off so happy and then it’s a slow descent into heartbreak and then healing. It starts off as this story about a tight knit group of five friends, most of them Taiwanese except for Grace who is Japanese American, and Beth who is half-white and Chinese, who has no deep to connection to either side of her cultures. These kids are smart, goal oriented, talented and have everything going for themselves, their futures are so bright and they all seem so perfect – on the outside. Their friendship is a beautiful thing but even though they are the closest and most supportive of friends, there were things they couldn’t prevent. Through Beth we see that as their time comes to an end in high school, pressures start building, more for Jason the boy she’s in love with, and a series of events happen that shakes their tight knit group.
  • But let’s talk about Beth. We are in her head a lot and I was scared at times being in that head because some things I could really relate to. She’s the most quiet among her friends, and so talented with a violin. She is that type of person ready to appease everyone, at least she is with her friends. Beth lives her life in a way so that she won’t repeat the mistakes of her mother who she blames for the divorce and making her dad leave. As a teen, I would have understood Beth a lot with the anger at her parents. Now that I am a mom and way older, Beth was breaking my heart blaming her mom for everything. She comes off selfish (when it comes to her mother) but so unselfish when it comes to her friends and Jason. The story comes around full circle from Senior year in high school to them being in college which I’m glad about because there were so many things Beth needed to learn about herself, she needed to actually grow without these amazing friends of hers and she does. It’s not easy, but she does it, little by little.
  • Mental health is a big topic in this story. From the very high expectations of immigrant Asian parents (I know how that feels but not to the extent of what Beth and her friends are going through), abuse in a family and is it considered “abuse” and should you tell anyone, dating someone with mental health issues, and seeking help when you do have mental health episodes among other things.
  • I love how music is interwoven into the storyline because of Beth and her friends being in the school symphony club. The place Beth is her true self is with her violin. Music is what brings her back to life that is worth living.
  • This story is written beautifully and I hope to read more of this author’s work. I was really drawn into this story of perfect friends as thing unraveled. By the end of it, I wanted them to all be fixed and the ending made me cry. I think I was just so happy that Beth and Jason were okay despite everything.

Triggers: attempted suicide, anxiety, divorce, abuse, panic attacks

  • This is heavy reading material and so very triggering. Beth’s anxiety chaffed at me, it gave me anxiety. I wanted to shake sense into her because I’m an adult now but I saw some of myself in her. Jason’s withdrawal made me nervous for him. I felt helpless for both of them. I felt quite drained by the end of this book, so read at your own pace if any of these topics are a trigger for you.
  • The romance between Jason and Beth in the end becomes a beautiful thing but the beginning of it is toxic. It’s a bad idea, but Beth is diving into it head first, she is all in without a care for her own well-being. To me their love story wasn’t something comforting to me at all when it began…but by the end of the book, I was tearing up because they both did a lot of work to meet each other half way.

When We Were Infinite is an emotional journey about at a time when the transition from high school to college is full of pressure. It’s a story about Beth, who seems okay at the beginning of the book and we slowly uncover all the layers to see she is not doing okay at all at home, or at life in general. I was invested in the story the whole way through and saw parts of me in it that made me uncomfortable but seen, which I appreciated. This is a powerfully layered story that will stay in my head for awhile.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

book review, coming of age, contemporary, Young Adult

Concrete Rose by. Angie Thomas | Book Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Title: Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0.5)

Author: Angie Thomas

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 360

Publication Date: 1/21/21

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Family, Fatherhood, Gangs

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Givein this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

  • Angie Thomas is a must-read author for me. Her writing is so good! Once I start reading, I feel my body just settling into her words, into the story and there I am watching things unfold for Maverick in real time, at least that’s what it feels like for me. It’s an enjoyable reading experience, and it’s almost soothing even though the topics in Concrete Rose are anything but calming.
  • This story is about a teen boy turning into a father too fast – and honestly, I grew up in this period that the story is set. Pagers were the thing to have (my parents never let me have one), Boyz to Men was being played everywhere, and teenage pregnancy was happening at a high rate. All my high school male cousins, some drop outs, all got their girlfriends pregnant in high school so they were very young dads. A few female friends of mine also got pregnant in high school, so I love that this was from Maverick’s perspective and his struggles of becoming a father almost overnight, because it is relatable to me. I was baby-sitting my cousin’s kids a lot and I was barely in high school myself! Parenting at any age is hard, but doing it when you barely have money and a high school diploma is rough.
  • Maverick isn’t perfect – he sells drugs to make ends meet, he is in a gang, he is grieving, but he tries his best when Seven (his son) comes into his life to do the right thing. He gives up the high paying drug business and gets a regular low paying job, he goes to school even though he is failing, he is helping his mom pay the house bills (his dad is in jail), he has no time to hang with friends…but his struggle to stay on the good path is hard, especially when having no money is a problem. I felt for him but was seriously proud of him too for trying to own up and be a “man” so his son could have a father around. He had to make a few tough decisions on different matters and I’m so glad he chose to do the right thing.
  • His community had his back. Yes, he thought it was the King Lord gang that had his back and maybe they did in some ways when it came to protection in their neighborhood but it was his neighbors and family that really got his back. They gave him a job, gave him advice/direction/a listening ear/patience/forgiveness, they helped him babysit Seven and that was a beautiful thing!
  • I feel like this one didn’t have much action, like The Hate U Give but it works…it’s beautiful and introspective as we get to know Maverick and his struggles. Very well done!

Triggers: gun violence, violence, drugs, teen pregnancy, grief

  • There were a lot of parenting advice in this one that I wasn’t expecting but it was relatable and I’m in my 40’s! So I definitely loved all the parenting advice in this one.
  • There was a moment I thought it was like the Boyz n the Hood movie (has anyone seen that? Talk about my childhood, that movie was big and eye opening) and I was scared for that “moment” to happen. 😭
  • Speaking of movies, all of Angie’s books should be movies.
  • I may be biased because I am female, but I always gravitate to stories about girls, young women, women – because it’s been so hard for us to be heard. But this story reminded me boys need to be understood too. As I was reading, I was wondering if this was how my boy cousins felt when they had gotten their girlfriends pregnant and became teen dads. Did they feel the pressures, the fears and behaved in ways to get away from those feelings? I connected to Maverick as a parent especially in those first few months of parenthood.

Concrete Rose is the perfect prequel to The Hate U Give. We get Maverick’s point of view and learn about his relationship with King and how Starr, his daughter and Seven, his son, came to be. We see his struggles and there is many coming from school, parenting, working to make ends meet, his parents, his ex-girlfriend, losing family and friends. Angie Thomas is one of my favorite authors and her books always has a powerful message. There are many messages in this book about parenting, owning up to your mistakes, and trying to change your life path. Teens and young adults should definitely read this one, but adults can enjoy this one as well, just like I did.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the book:

book review, contemporary, netgalley, paranormal, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Spells Trouble by. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast | ARC Review

My Rating: 2/5 Stars (DNF @25%)

Title: Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem, #1)

Author: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 5/25/21

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Witches, Young Adult, Twins, Contemporary, Paranormal

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

I DNF’ed this book at 25% because it was just not for me. But let’s look at what I liked ~

  • Love the cover, it’s what drew me to the story in the first place and a book about witches? I was definitely interested.
  • Right away there is some crazy action with the girls 16th birthday ritual night but I can’t say for the rest of the book because I wasn’t interested in finishing.
  • The Goode twins, Hunter and Mercy, are different and have distinct voices.
  • Their familiar, a cat named Xena turns into a human, so that was fun.
  • The one time I read this mother/daughter duo is when they came out with the House of Night series back in 2007! I followed it up until book 5 maybe? It was fun and I was obsessed with it in 2007-2009 and then I outgrew it. The writing is much more suited for teen readers (except there is detailed sexual content). At times the story felt superficial and rushed especially when their mom died.
  • I felt no connection to any of the characters.
  • I really wish this held my interest because the concept is good and witches always make for a fun and thrilling story.

Overall this one is definitely not for me because of the writing style which felt rushed. At times I felt like I was in my 20’s reading a young adult novel again, but not in a good way because times have changed in the young adult world and I did not finish it but I think many people will still enjoy this one. I feel like it’s written for teen readers except for the detailed sexual scene.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, romance, Young Adult

Hurricane Summer by. Asha Bromfield | ARC Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Title: Hurricane Summer

Author: Asha Bromfield

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 5/4/21

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Coming of Age, Identity, Family, Culture, Contemporary, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

In this sweeping debut, actress Asha Bromfield takes readers to the heart of Jamaica, and into the soul of a girl coming to terms with her family, and herself, set against the backdrop of a hurricane.

Sometimes the storm is inside of you…

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise—all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

  • Hurricane Summer is a story about a girl, Tilla who is sent to Jamaica from Canada, with her sister for the summer to spend time with her father and other family members. The family members she meet though aren’t as welcoming as she thought they would be and her father is as non-existent in her life as ever.
  • Colorism and classism is evident in this story and even though I’m Filipino-American, I could relate to it a little, especially when my parents brought me to the Philippines to visit for the second third time. The first two times I was too young to notice these things. The lighter the skin in Filipino culture, the prettier you are. In Hurricane Summer, Tilla witnesses colorism in her own family, as one of her cousins has the darkest skin out of them all. The way they treat Andre, her cousin, is horrible and not something Cilla understands. Classism shows when her cousin Diana interact with her and the fact that she gets to go to school and not the country boys was an interesting dynamic.
  • Tilla’s relationship with her father is so sad because she is yearning to understand why he doesn’t want to be a part of their family. He really just dumps them off in the countryside of Jamaica – really? I was so angry at him. But I’m glad in the end she reaches some heart breaking conclusions about her relationship with him.
  • Tilla’s trip to Jamaica really is a hurricane – she’s is a swirling mess of emotion, rage and hurt. So much took place in this one trip, I likened it the summer from hell! The way her family members treated her, the way her cousin sabotaged her, I was livid at them in some parts in this story. But Tilla’s relationship with Andre was the best part! At least she had one cousin who had her back, thank goodness.
  • The ending is powerful. Tilla’s emotions and her confrontation with her dad and her feelings was so deep. I was highlighting sentences that spoke to me, that I needed to hear myself. So many of her thoughts resonated with me a lot and I appreciate seeing her take the steps to start to heal what was broken inside of her.

Triggers: abuse, bullying, slut shaming, death, grief, sexual assault

  • This is not at easy read – there are so many heavy topics going on in this book. There is physical, emotional and sexual abuse happening in the family. Tilla’s family members slut-shame her, and her own cousin does something so reprehensible – I wanted Cilla to cut them off forever! I’d never go and visit them if that was my family, I’d have called my mom up ASAP and tell her to book my flight back to Canada.
  • Tilla has some moments on the island where she’s meeting boys and yes, she is attracted to a guy who’s already spoken for but it’s complicated because of how it’s set up. There were a few times I was frustrated with Tilla because I could see what was about to happen but I also understood how she wanted to escape everything that was going on. But I’m glad Tilla realized her interest in these guys was because she was trying to fill a void left by her dad. I understood that deeply.
  • The story takes place in Jamaica so the language of the island, Patois, and the story uses the language throughout. There is a glossary of words and their definition. After awhile though, you catch on to their way of talking and meaning.

This story swept me away to Jamaica, but we get to see the parts of Jamaica that aren’t the tourist destinations, we get to see it as someone’s home in the countryside. This story is about Tilla coming to find some truths there that are hard to face. She goes through a hurricane of life events in one summer that tests her resolve but she comes out stronger in the end. This is not an easy book to read but there is so much in it that resonated with me. Hurricane Summer is raw, heart wrenching, cathartic and powerful.

⛈ ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, romance, Young Adult

Better Than the Movies | ARC Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Title: Better Than the Movies

Author: Lynn Painter

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 5/4/21

Categories: High School, Rom-Com, Enemies to Lovers, Movies, Music, Young Adult, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

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. 

  • I grew up in the age of amazing rom-com movies so this story is nostalgic with the movie quotes and the music soundtrack/playlists. It was just a fun blend of humor and romance combined!
  • Liz and Wes are neighbors and enemies that become frenemies so that Liz can get the guy she really wants, Michael. Who doesn’t love a boy-next-door, fake-dating, enemies-to-lovers trope? I can’t get enough of it! I love Liz and Wes’ banter, it made me laugh out loud and honestly as I read this I wished this WAS a movie. I love them together!
  • Now Liz isn’t just romance loving girl trying to find her own happily-ever-after, she does have some issues going on. Her mom died years ago in a car accident, she has a new step-mom and with Senior year coming to a close, she misses her mom as she hits all these milestones. Keeping things to herself starts making her hurt people that she cares about, even if it’s not intentional.
  • This book is funny, especially because Liz, who is unique, finds herself in the most crazy situations like getting barfed on at a party.
  • The romance of Liz and Wes getting together was perfection. I loved it all from them hating each other, to pretending to be into each other and then of course, the falling in love. And it stays pretty PG rated with maybe one hot kiss but it was enough to put some sizzle into the book without going overboard.
  • The best friend storyline was the only thing that made me want to shake Liz, that, and of course when she is mooning over Michael when Wes is perfect for her. Supposedly Joss is her best-friend but she lies to her the whole time about Wes just because she knows she’ll judge her. It would have been nice if Liz could trust her best friend and tell her stuff about missing her mom during Senior year. But I’m glad they talk it out in the end.

Better Than the Movies would actually make a great teen movie. I love Liz and Wes’ relationship, it really did remind me of those rom-coms that were popular years ago. I’ve been missing them a lot lately! Like Liz, I love rom-coms too and I used to always have a “soundtrack” to my life also. I think that’s why I related so much to her personality. This story left me feeling giddy, happy and smiling. If you love rom-coms, I think you will definitely enjoy this one.

🍿 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Take Me Home Tonight | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: Take Me Home Tonight

Author: Morgan Matson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 5/4/21

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Readers, Friendship, Family, Romance, Coming of Age, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist in this romp through the city that never sleeps from the New York Times bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson.

Two girls. One night. Zero phones.

Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?

Well. Kind of a lot?

They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.

Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future. 

That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.

  • The title ALWAYS makes me sing that 80’s song, “Take me home tonight, I don’t want let you go till you see the light…” – it’s such a good song and reminds me of my childhood! Such a fun title!
  • Everything happens in one night in NYC of all places which is always a good time, right? It’s such an exciting city, so I loved the setting. It’s the perfect place for nightly shenanigans.
  • I did enjoy Kat and Stevie’s friendship. At the start you just know they are tight, and they do get separated during their wild night in NYC but it helped them deal with their own issues for a few hours before meeting up. I like their separate emotional journeys and when they come back together, they are better for it.
  • Kat has a cute little romantic encounter, but I loved Stevie’s interactions with her family even more. We get to meet her step-siblings and watch her deal with family issues, I thought it brought the emotional feels in the story.
  • I appreciate the whole Adventures in Babysitting references with Teri’s storyline but I mostly skipped it. It didn’t work for me because I was more interested in Kat and Stevie’s adventure and it really went off in a whole direction with Teri. In the end I thought it was sorta funny and cute but during the story, it would take me out of the story.
  • This would make an entertaining movie.
  • More suited towards teen readers.

This story is about one wild night in New York City shared between two best friends who have a falling out along the way but find their way back to one another. There is Teri’s storyline who is on an Adventures of Babysitting kick and it’s funny in the end but unfortunately took me out of the story multiple times. I think teen readers will enjoy this one and relate to Kat and Stevie’s personalities and friendship.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, contemporary, E-book, Mystery, romance, thriller, Young Adult

The Cousins | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: The Cousins

Author: Karen M. McManus

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 330

Publication Date: 12/1/20

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Family, Thriller, Mystery, Young Adult, Romance

  • This is a fun book and much needed after reading so much fantasy and romance lately. There is a little bit of romance in this one but this one is all about family and the secrets we keep.
  • I liked the three perspectives told by the cousins: Milly, Aubrey and Jonah. They had distinct voices – I love them all. They worked well as a team trying to figure out why their grandmother disinherited their parents and never had an interest to get to know her grandchildren.
  • The setting of an island on the east coast lends it that mystery feel. We know the Story family has money and the kids lived in privilege but what happened to make Mildred Story, the matriarch of the family cut her kids out of their life. Were they that awful? It’s Milly, Aubrey and Jonah’s job to find out and make amends but soon they are surrounded by Story lore, scandals and fame.
  • I was definitely engaged in this story from the moment I met the cousins because I liked learning about their parents and learning what happened. I loved the twist at the end.
  • I loved the three perspectives but I wish Allison’s perspective (Milly’s mom) came in just a bit earlier in the book. We get to know the kids and it builds up as we get to know who they are, their parents and personalities but once they get on the island it’s still a big mystery as to why their grandmother reached out in the first place. There’s a time period where they are getting settled in and nothing really happens except them working. Not even Grandma Mildred makes much of an appearance.
  • The ending is the big reveal where the dots are connected. But for the most part the story keeps it all a mystery.

This was a lot of fun to read and I loved how it kept me in the story by tossing some clues here and there, a little romance, revenge, parents acting badly, family secrets and then the big reveal. i enjoyed the characters and how Milly and Aubrey now have each other. Great read if you are into young adult mystery/thrillers.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Author: Crystal Maldonado

Format: eBook – borrowed (Overdrive Library)

Pages: 308

Publication Date: 2/2/21

Publisher: Holiday House

Categories: Teen/Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Body Image, Family, Friendship, Dating, Coming of Age

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard. 
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though. 

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. 

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

  • Love the message for girls and guys in here about body image and loving yourself no matter what size you are, no matter what skin color you are, no matter who you love. Charlie has to live with a mom who has chosen a fitness lifestyle and is trying to get Charlie to do the same. It causes Charlie’s self-esteem to take a beating and her relationship with her mom is strained. It was very relatable. It’s hard growing up in a family that points out every time you gain weight, I can definitely relate!
  • Charlie deals with a lot of body issues but the one thing she excels at is her writing, which is fantastic. I love that she has that outlet for her creative ideas and she’s good at it.
  • Charlie and her best-friend Amelia have an amazing relationship until Charlie finds a boyfriend. But they have a long hard talk about what came between them and I love that they had this moment. Charlie needed to speak her truth and Amelia as well. I love that even though they took some time apart, the came back together, maturely and talked it out. That’s what makes a friendship grow, when you can get through the rough parts.
  • Charlie’s romance with Brian is sweet because it starts as a friendship and I love that for her. Even the drama that came with it was realistic, especially because Charlie has some emotional issues to deal with that have nothing to do with Brian.
  • The cast of characters are quite diverse in this story, Charlie is half white/puerto rican. Brian is Korean with two mothers, and Amelia is black and pansexual.
  • Triggers: grief, fatphobia
  • Charlie’s mom really gets on Charlie to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to lose weight. It comes between them a lot. At times her mom seems to understand where Charlie is coming from and then the next scene it’s back to normal, shoving diet drinks in Charlie’s face. Even after Charlie lets her know how she feels, I felt like her mom didn’t truly get it.
  • The beginning was slow for me, it was turning out to be just an okay read for me because it seemed liked a story that was only about Charlie’s self-image but the second half of the book is where it gets really good and emotional.

Charlie Vega, despite her weight and self-image issues comes out shining in this story. She goes through some challenges with her mother, her first attempt at dating and best friend drama but she gets her happy ending. This book is great for teens and young adults because it’s totally relatable. I enjoyed this one, even though I thought it had a slow start, the second half came through with lots of emotion.

💛 ~ Yolanda

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