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

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, romance, Young Adult

Sloppy Firsts by. Megan McCafferty | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 STARS

Title: Sloppy Firsts

Author: Megan McCafferty

Format: ebook (NetGalley)

Pages: 298

Publication Date: 5/4/21 (first published 8/4/01)

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: High School, Young Adult, Friendship, Family, Coming of Age

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

The first book in the beloved, New York Times bestselling series—now with a new foreword from New York Timesbestselling author Rebecca Serle

Jessica Darling is devastated when her best friend moves away from Pineville, New Jersey. With Hope gone, Jessica has no one she can really talk to. She doesn’t relate to the boy-and-shopping obsessed girls at school, or her dad’s obsession with track meets, and her mom is too busy planning big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding. Jessica is lost more than ever, and her nonexistent love life is only making things worse.

Fresh, funny, and utterly compelling, readers fell in love with Jessica Darling’s poignant, hilarious voice and have stayed with her through her ups and downs (and her mixed-up feelings about her first love, Marcus Flutie). A modern classic, readers will be excited to return to Pineville, New Jersey and Jessica Darling’s world with Sloppy Firsts

  • I read this when it was first published years ago and at that time, I thought Jessica’s voice was very strong, even though at most times she is really unlikable. But I like a problematic character and she has a lot going on in her family and her best friend moving away.
  • It doesn’t shy away from high school students having sex, using drugs, and all the gossiping.
  • This is written like how one would speak because it’s like a diary – it was funny to me 20 years ago because I was a young adult back when it came out! Today as I read it, as an adult, it was a little too loud and too much for me. There is a lot going on in Jessica’s head, and we are in her thoughts 24/7. I found a lot of it nostalgic and some of it, wondering if teens today could even relate?
  • The main thing I loved about this series and it still stands today as the thing that sucked me into this series is the Jessica and Marcus love story. It’s definitely dramatic and it still got to me as I re-read this book. It’s a slow burn with not much happening in this first book until the end of it.
  • Triggers: drug use, grief
  • Reading this twenty years later, I feel like so much of the first half could be cut out – get to Marcus and Jessica quicker! I have no time to be in Jessica’s thoughts.
  • Ha! I saw my Goodreads star review I gave this years ago (I didn’t have Goodreads in 2001 so I posted it in 2014) and I gave it a 3 star rating like I’m giving it today.

Twenty years later, I can still say I read this whole series because of Jessica and Marcus’ love story. I can’t say I remember how it ended? But I do remember being on this journey with Jessica at a time when she was going to college in the series (I was just out of college), so this story is full of nostalgia for me. This is an all out, in Jessica Darling’s head, coming-of-age teen young adult story. Jessica is lost, she hates her parents, sad that her best friend moved, navigating the jungle that is the high school social scene, and falling for Marcus Flutie, of all people. Will young adult relate to it in this day and age? Not sure ~ it was a mess then and still a mess now, but it was one I totally related to back in the early 2000’s.

📚 ~ Yolanda

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, fantasy, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

The Princess Will Save You | Book Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: The Princess Will Save You

Author: Sarah Henning

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 7/7/20

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Royals

When a princess’s commoner true love is kidnapped to coerce her into a political marriage, she doesn’t give in—she goes to rescue him.

When her warrior father, King Sendoa, mysteriously dies, Princess Amarande of Ardenia is given what would hardly be considered a choice: Marry a stranger at sixteen or lose control of her family’s crown.

But Amarande was raised to be a warriornot a sacrifice. 

In an attempt to force her choice, a neighboring kingdom kidnaps her true love, stable boy Luca. With her kingdom on the brink of civil war and no one to trust, she’ll need all her skill to save him, her future, and her kingdom.

  • Fast moving story and quick read.
  • I like the whole women power and consent message.
  • Amarande is sixteen, knows who she loves and wants, and she will do everything for him even get him back from kidnappers. She’s definitely the heroine in this novel and Luca is the dude in distress haha. She wants her man back and she will do anything to get him! It’s a super sweet and innocent love, Amarande is shy about her feelings about him and he is very gentle with her.
  • There is some court intrigue with some other kingdom forcing her to marry or else she loses Luca.
  • There were very few similarities to The Princess Bride (I only watched the movie a million times), like Luca’s torture (Westley’s torture), of course the reverse hero where Amarande is the one saving her love (Westley went to save his Princess), but it’s all out of order so I think the book didn’t follow so closely that I was looking for similarities.
  • Triggers: kidnapping, violence
  • It would’ve been nice to see more of Luca and Amarande’s relationship – because it’s a quick moving story, we are thrown into it knowing they have a thing for one another. She’s very shy about her feelings and they haven’t really said it out loud to one another so I’d have love to see them more comfortable with it.
  • It was a predictable so at times it was boring, a princess who wants to marry who she wants and not give in to the other kingdoms trying to take her kingdom.
  • I’m so used to alpha males (and love them) that I was a little underwhelmed with Luca but honestly he’s a nice guy and they need to be shown love too. I’m curious about his history and if it comes into play in book two.
  • I think this is better suited for Teen Readers

Overall this was an okay read for me, I think I expected a bit more from it. The messages about consent and woman empowerment is relevant and important. It was fun to see some Princess Bride references and I am interested to see what happens with Amarande’s mother and learning more about Luca’s background. I have the arc to book two so we shall see what happens.

📚 ~ Yolanda