If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

GoodReads Summary:
If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?
When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.
Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…
If I Never Met YouReview:
This author is new to me. This is only the second book I’ve read by Mhairi McFarlane, but I enjoyed all I’ve read so far. This is the author’s newest release and I enjoyed it so much. I think I prefer this one over the other that I’ve read. Mostly because this has tropes that I adore (read: fake dating and ‘there’s only one bed’).
One of the things I love about Mhairi’s books is that while they are technically a romance, there’s so much more to the story than that. The romance seems to take a back seat to the character development. Laurie has just been broken up with by her partner of more than ten years, the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with. I can only imagine how she felt, but the author does a really good job of showing the emotional effect of this breakup. Laurie doesn’t let this break her. She lets herself mourn and then decides that she’s going to do something about it. At first, her goal is to win her ex back (which was a little annoying because he sucks.) But she eventually realizes that he isn’t worth the gum stuck to the bottom of her shoe. Enter Jamie. He’s the stereotypical womanizer (or is he??) and they get trapped in an elevator together. They come up with a fake dating plan that is supposed to benefit them both. And hilarity ensues. They pose for Instagram and go on fake dates, but end up creating a really wonderful friendship. I really liked their friendship. It was well developed and seemed to develop naturally rather than being insta-love.
The friendships in this story were also wonderful. That’s something that this story has in common with the other book by this author that I read. The main character is learning about herself but has an excellent support system in her friendships.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and heartwarming, but also deep and thoughtful. I will definitely be reading more by this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

GoodReads Summary:
You always remember your first love… don’t you?
If there’s anything worse than being fired from the lousiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way—bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: it’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And—make that two problems—he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat… what more could a girl really need?
Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief—and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened twelve years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth… or a second chance with the one that got away?
Don't You Forget About MeReview:
I’ve been reading so much romance lately that I’ve been searching for new authors to read. Mhairi McFarlane came up in my search so I picked up two of her books from my local independent bookstore. I’m glad I did because though these are romance books in an assumed way, they’re more character-driven by the main character learning more about themselves.
I loved this book because I related so hard to Georgina. She’s been bouncing around different jobs in the food industry. Her family looks down on her for her lack of stability. I just could relate to her not yet finding her place in the world in a working sense. I really enjoyed her finding a new place to work that she just loved and felt at home. But (gasp) her first love is one of the brothers that owns the bar. And (gasp again) he doesn’t remember her. I love their budding friendship and eventual reconciliation about the past. I thought this book was so well done. There were hard topics covered and in a thoughtful way.
Overall, I didn’t know what to expect from this story but there was such great character development. There were great friendships and learning moments. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

GoodReads Summary:
Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.
As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.
I See London, I See France (I See London, I See France, #1)Review:
This story was so fun. I needed a book that had a heart in the title or on the cover for the OWLs Readathon and this book has a cute heart emoji on the cover.
I devoured this story. I loved the traveling adventures. I loved getting to see all the places they went to and the tourist attractions they visited. I thought the settings were really well done and made the story so fun.
The characters were interesting. I thought Sydney was really put out of her comfort zone on her trip to Europe because she doesn’t want to leave her mother who is agoraphobic. So, she’s constantly worrying about her mom and her younger sister having to take care of her mom. I thought this was interesting to include in the story. I loved how much she worried and cared about her family, but it was also nice to see her finally do something just for herself. She’s a person that just cares about the people in her life. Including the friend she’s traveling in Europe with.
Sydney and Leela’s relationship isn’t a perfect one. I liked that. It’s realistic and believable. I think they both had issues they needed to work out, and while I wished they’d addressed said issues sooner, I’m happy with the way that it was handled and resolved.
Overall, this story was fun and full of adventure. But it also included real-life problems and really enjoyed that. I think this was a great novel full of wonderful settings and interesting characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

GoodReads Summary:
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.
When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.
What You Wish ForReview:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I’ve heard great things about Katherine Center’s books so when I saw this one up on NetGalley I thought I’d give it a try.
I absolutely adored this book. I love books about people that love books. So, following an elementary school library in her quest to try and save her school. She tries to make her library a safe place for the children and teach them to love reading. I just loved that. But when beloved principal and founder, Max, dies, someone new is brought in to replace him, someone that Sam knows already. But she doesn’t know this new version of him. He’s trying to change everything she loves about her school, the place she’s made her home. And she’s not going to let that happen. I loved the community aspect of this book. The town comes together because they care because they love where they live. They come up with fun and funny things to make Duncan do and I loved it.
Duncan is a man with a past, but Sam is missing the part of his past that has caused such a big change in him. So, until she learns his history, she’s determined to make him leave the school. But when she learns of the trauma, he’s experienced she decides to help him become his old self. I loved his story. He’s a man that’s been through some serious things and it shows. But once he starts opening up, he starts to heal.
I really loved that this was more than a romance novel. There was romance in the best way. Two people that made one another better, that helped heal one another. Their relationship was full of conflict but was handled so well and so sweet. I absolutely adored this book and I will be reading more of this author’s work.

Quotes:

“I took him to the library. Where else? My beautiful, magical, beloved library…home of a million other lives. Home of comfort, and distraction, and getting lost—in the very best way.”

“It was the best way I knew how to turn them into readers: to catch those little sparks when they happened and turn them into flames.”

“I wasn’t a stranger to grieving, to the way it drowned you but didn’t kill you—only keep you submerged for so long you forgot what air and sunshine even felt like. I knew that grief set its own timeline, and that the only way out was through.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand

GoodReads Review:
A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.
Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…
Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.
But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.
Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.
The How and the WhyReview:
How do I put how much I loved this book into words? This story mostly follows Cass throughout her senior year. She’s a lover of theatre and is working on deciding where to college. She also is dealing with her mother being stuck in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. She’s since turned eighteen and has become curious about her birth mother. No one could replace her parents, but it’s hard not to wonder about the woman who gave birth to her.
In between chapters, we get to read the letter’s that Cass’s birth mother wrote while pregnant. We learn about the relationship between her birth mother and father. I really loved these. It was fascinating to read about a pregnant sixteen-year-old that lived in a school for pregnant teens. Her experiences and thoughts were interesting but also snarky and entertaining. It was realistic and honest. I loved this aspect of the book.
I also loved that we’d read most of the letters by the time that Cass even finds out they exist. I really enjoyed the adoption topic and learning at the end that the author was adopted made it even better. It was clear that this was a really personal subject for her to write about and I loved every page.
There were wonderful friendships. Cass’s best friend, Nyla, was also adopted, but that’s not why their friends. I loved that they support one another and that their friendship was so realistic. They fought and argued, but always apologized and forgave. They were really a great part of this book. I also completely loved Bastien and didn’t pick up on his secret either. I shipped him and Cass so bad.
Overall, I thought this was an incredible book and I really hope others read and love it too. I haven’t seen many people talking about it and I hope that changes. I think it was realistically diverse (not in an obnoxious way). It was a heartbreaking but also heartwarming story. The ending also totally killed me. I think everyone should read this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody

GoodReads Summary:
After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?
Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.
He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.
And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.
The Geography of Lost ThingsReview:
This book has been on my TBR for what feels like a million years. I’m glad I finally picked it up because I enjoyed it so much. I also got to read this while relaxing outside in the sunshine and it was the perfect mood.
We follow Ali and Nico as they’re stuck in a car together. Ali’s absentee father has died and left her his car. So, she’s going to sell it to save her house. She’s stuck with her ex, Nico because she doesn’t drive stick.
This book was so sweet and just genuinely funny. They learn about themselves and open up to one another, but they also have fun. Nico teaches her how to ‘trade up’ on Craigslist and that was definitely my favorite part of the story. They meet some really interesting people.
I loved that Ali learned so much about herself and managed to vulnerable enough to let these realizations change her perspective. I totally loved their adventures. Nico and Ali were so cute and I adored them. I thought it was wonderfully written and I just loved it. They both grew and opened up and managed to have fun despite the not so good situation they’re in. I think this is a definitely underhyped book and everyone should read it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

GoodReads Summary:
The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?
Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.
What Kind of GirlReview:
I’m going to be writing this review while using The Bookish Chick’s review because I read it after I finished this book and she pretty much summed up my thoughts perfectly. But I will be writing this and trying to put it in my own words. I was excited about this book when I saw the ebook available through my library because I’m trying (and failing amid the virus closures) to not buy all the new releases.
This book starts off with anonymous narrators the chapters are just titled with who the narrator could be classified as. For example, “The Girlfriend, The Burnout, The Popular Girl” which was interesting, at first. But then I reached part two and was left very confused. I didn’t totally understand what the transition to part two meant. But the further I got into the book the more I was sure that I knew what the author was doing. I thought this was interesting, but it only goes on for half of the book. I would have liked for it to go on longer or not at all. While it was an interesting sort of twist, it just left me confused and sort of annoyed.
The other problem I had with this book was the ending. It made me so mad that I forgot most of what happened until I read Alana’s review and remembered. Maya finally stands up and sets straight the rumors that are circulating, she stands her ground and says what she thinks should happen (since something like this isn’t specified in the student handbook). I loved seeing her finally stand up, but then the book just ends. Maya is provided with options to go move with her dad or stay with her mom. But we never find out what happens. We don’t know if her boyfriend even gets in trouble and I’m mad all over again typing this.
Overall, this was a pretty quick read. But not one I was overly pleased with. I know there will be many readers who will love this story, so please take this review with a grain of salt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

GoodReads Summary:
Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.
The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.
There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractedly cute.
Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
Save the DateReview:
After not totally loving her other books, I was hesitant to pick this one up. But amidst all the virus chaos, I’ve only been able to read fun romance (which I’m certainly not complaining about.) This was exactly what I was looking for.
We follow Charlie, the youngest of the Grant family. She’s trying to help keep everything together for her sister’s wedding. But, with the family and all the other visitors, there’s bound to be problems. I know some people thought the wedding antics were predictable, but I thought it was so fun and funny. Anything that could have gone wrong, did. Seeing Charlie and the wedding planner’s nephew try to scramble for solutions was so entertaining.
My favorite thing about this book though was the siblings. I have a big and crazy family so all the siblings and their games and traditions really hit home with me. It made me miss my family (who live in a different state than me) and I wanted to be fifteen again playing manhunt at my elementary school playground. I loved the family feels, but they weren’t all good and I liked that too. Charlie’s being faced with some hard realizations and that made me love this book even more. She’s learning that her brothers and parents aren’t perfect. They’re just people.
Overall, I adored this story. It was fun and silly. There was such good family dynamics and a smidge of romance. This book was everything I wanted it to be and I will definitely be recommending it. (Antonia, if you’re reading this you will have to borrow this once you move closer to me.)

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

GoodReads Summary:
When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
Cracked Up to BeReview:
In the new introduction that Courtney Summers added when this book was published again, she mentions that Parker is a hugely unlikeable character. This is so true. She’s self-destructive and beyond unlikeable. She was pretty relatable because I was pretty self-destructive when I was her age. I liked that she had friends (sort of) that were there and tried to keep her accountable.
This book was almost hard to read, but the mystery and suspense of the flashbacks (which led up to why Parker went from head bitch to almost drop out) kept me interested. I really wanted to know what Parker went through to cause this change. I was a little disappointed with the reveal. It was a terrible thing, but really, she did a terrible thing. She didn’t look out for her friend and that just made me mad. It made me angry with an already unlikable character.
Overall, this was a pretty quick read. If you like Courtney Summer’s other books, you’ll probably like this one too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Admission by Julie Buxbaum

GoodReads Summary:
It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She’s headed off to the college of her dreams. She’s going to prom with the boy she’s had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer–at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.
As she loses everything she’s long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?
AdmissionReview:
I have really enjoyed all of Buxbaum’s books that’s I’ve read so far (I think there’s only one I haven’t picked up yet.) So, I was super excited when NetGalley emailed me saying I was approved for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was really intrigued to see how the author was going to portray her own version of the college admissions scandal. First off, as an overall, I thought she did an incredible job making the reader feel things for these characters (whether those were positive or negative things, they were feelings either way.)
Chloe, our main character, was really complicated. We follow her story as the chapters flip back and forth between the before and the after of the scandal. I really liked her at first. I felt really bad for her. She’s a girl that grew up with privilege, but not entitlement. She knew she probably wouldn’t get into the colleges her parents want, but she was willing to make the effort they were asking to placate them. But as we learn her past leading up to her mother’s arrest we learn what she actually knew about the things her parents were doing. This made me like her less. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it because of spoilers, but the more the reader learns of her story the less likable she becomes. Though I think she really grew before the end of the book. I think she learned from the mistakes that she made and will continue to grow from them.
I think this book had some really important and thoughtful conversation about privilege and the different kinds of privilege, some that come with the color of your skin and some that come with having money. I’d like to see some own voices reviews to see their thoughts on these conversations, but I thought they were well done.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was gripping and interesting. I felt like I flew through the story and devoured it. Despite not always liking what I was reading, I was pulled into the story. Oh, I also totally loved the mentions of Hope and Other Punchlines & Tell Me Three Things, they were super cute.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

GoodReads Summary:
The world is not tame.
Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off-trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.
Be Not Far From MeReview:
What a wild ride this book was for me. I’ve had a hit or miss relationship with McGinnis’ books. But this one has gotten some pretty good praise since its release, so I thought I’d give it a try when I saw my library had the ebook available. I read this in one sitting. It’s a shorter book, but action-packed and so suspenseful.
The things that Ashley goes through was just wild. First of all, she catches her boyfriend literally cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend. I just have to say I was totally here for the way that this situation was resolved. The story starts with a group of friends drinking in the woods. This was relatable as hell for me because that’s pretty much also what I did in high school.
But then she runs and manages to really hurt herself. Her friends are jerks and think she’s just gone home. So, we follow her as she’s trying to (sort of) heal herself and figure her way out of the woods. I will say that the people who I know that have read and enjoyed this, they mentioned that it was pretty graphic and a little gory, but I didn’t feel that way. It was definitely descriptive, but there was only one specific part that really grossed me out (read: possum). I thought the rest of the book while Ashley is trying to survive in the wild while injured was so well written. It was suspenseful and dramatic. But we also got a fair bit of backstory for Ashley and relationship history with various characters.
Overall, I wouldn’t say this was a new favorite book. But I read it very quickly because the writing pulled me in and wouldn’t spit me out until Ashley managed to escape the woods. I’d definitely recommend this book for anyone that thinks it sounds interesting.

Quotes:

“We live in a place where geography can not only kill you, but also dictates your friends.”

“No, I’m not freezing and I’m not starving, and I know both these things are true because I’m in pain. When you can’t feel anything is when you need to worry.”

“I’m discovering me out here, for the good and the bad. There’s things I’m proud of and stuff I’d rather forget, but it all makes up who I am and what I was, and what I’ve got to work with if I want to become something else. And I don’t get to do those things or be that person if I die out here.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

This Train is Being Held by Ismee Amiel Williams

GoodReads Summary:
When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.
This Train Is Being HeldReview:
Another book I read for NoVaTeen, this one was a good one. I immediately liked it. The concept of a love story that started on the train was so meet cute and I loved it. But it fell prey to the secret-keeping trope which is one that I hate. I hate characters keeping secrets when telling the truth would literally solve all the conflict that arises.
Despite this, I really enjoyed the characters. Alex was interesting and complicated. He’s a baseball player that’s Dominican and pushed hard by his dad to aim to become a pro ballplayer. Alex, however, has a newly discovered love for writing poetry and is considering going to college before trying to get drafted for baseball. I liked Alex a lot. He clearly loved his mom. It wasn’t clear How he felt about his stepmom but he totally adores his younger brother and spends time with him training him to get better at baseball. With all of this Alex doesn’t want a relationship, but he can’t help his attraction to Isa. I thought their relationship formed naturally and I loved all the meetings on the train.
Isa was a little annoying. She’s the one keeping secrets. She’s embarrassed by her family. Her mom and brother both have mental health issues. Instead of confiding in Alex about this, she keeps it a secret and it causes several problems. I liked her passion for dance despite her mother wanting her to become a doctor. She seems to see the world through rose-colored glasses because though she is Cuban, she looks white, so she hasn’t dealt with the same things that Alex has and doesn’t understand his reactions to certain things (like the police.)
This book covers some heavy topics like racism, gangs, police brutality, in a way that really made me feel for the characters. There’s also a bit of inequality between Isa and Alex. Isa lives on Park Ave and goes to private school and Alex does not. This causes conflict too, but this was a more realistic conflict (I hate secrets that cause conflict. It just pisses me off.)
Overall, I thought this book was good. I enjoyed it and the characters. Thought the chapters are marked with the changing days and dates, so sometimes there was a week or more in between some chapters and that was a bit jarring at first. I definitely think this will be a well-loved book, but the secret-keeping really lowered my enjoyment.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

 

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

GoodReads Summary:
Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi. Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the North Shore of Long Island. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.
That’s the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle-grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.
The Truth About Twinkie PieReview:
This book was so much more emotional than I anticipated. While GiGi was kind of a little terror, I liked it anyway. GiGi is a twelve-year-old that has just moved to a new school. Her mom died and she’s being raised by her older sister, DiDi. I loved the sister relationship when it was good. It’s hard to have a sister that’s is also your parents, so I could understand GiGi’s attitude. But also, being the adult that I am, I just wanted GiGi to open up to her sister and talk to her.
GiGi’s biggest worry is that he’s not going to make friends at her new school. I loved that this was the smallest problem in the book. She quickly made friends and I loved these relationships. They were sweet and I could see them lasting long into adulthood. I liked that even the girl GiGi was ‘frenemies’ had an interesting outcome. Mace and GiGi butted heads a lot, but I thought it was an interesting and necessary relationship.
Overall, this story was sweet and heartbreaking. It made me feel so many things I was not expecting. I loved the characters and this story had so much heart. I loved the family values and friendships. Also, this book had recipes in it and I totally loved how they were tied into the story. So, keep an eye out for a books & baking post related to this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

We Regret To Inform You by Ariel Kaplan

GoodReads Summary:
Mischa Abramavicius is a walking, talking, top-scoring, perfectly well-rounded college application in human form. So when she’s rejected not only by the Ivies, but her loathsome safety school, she is shocked and devastated. All the sacrifices her mother made to send her to prep school, the late nights cramming for tests, the blatantly resume-padding extracurriculars (read: Students for Sober Driving) … all that for nothing.
As Mischa grapples with the prospect of an increasingly uncertain future, she questions how this could have happened in the first place. Is it possible that her transcript was hacked? With the help of her best friend and sometimes crush, Nate, and a group of eccentric techies known as “The Ophelia Syndicate,” Mischa launches an investigation that will shake the quiet community of Blanchard Prep to its stately brick foundations.
We Regret to Inform YouReview:
This was so much fun. This book was another I got from my local library because the author is going to be at a book event I’m planning to go to. I’ve read her first book (Grendel’s Guide to Love and War) and really enjoyed it. So I thought I’d like this one too, which I did. Misha was a bit stuck in her feelings, but having dealt with the stress of college applications, I could understand. I liked her friends but wished she was a better friend to Caroline and that there was some reconciliation there for them. Misha was kind of shitty to her and there wasn’t any resolution to that. But I loved Nate and their friendship. I also loved the hacker girls. They were my favorite. They were all so sassy and pushed the limits of what might be morally okay. Definitely my favorite.
The one complaint I have about this book was the miscommunication trope. Or rather, the “I’m not going to share this important information because I’m scared” which is something that drives me crazy in books. I just want the characters to tell the truth and get help from adults.
Overall, I liked this book. Misha and her mom have a pretty good relationship. With normal bumps. But I liked it. I thought the relationships and character growth were done well. I think contemporary fans will enjoy this one.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman

GoodReads Summary:
Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.
When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.
But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?
How the Light Gets InReview:
I read this book because the author will be at the NoVaTeen book festival this year and I try to read as many of the authors that I know will be there. Katy Upperman is one of them. I didn’t manage to read any of her books last year but I found this one at my local library.
I’m glad I picked this up because I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed it. I liked Callie immediately. The book opens with her being caught smoking weed which was honestly so relatable I laughed a little. She’s dealing with the death of her sister, and not so well. So, she goes to spend the summer with her aunt. I loved the little town she goes to spend the summer in. She makes new friends and heals old wounds. She grew so much and her growth was so well done.
The part that surprised me about this book what the paranormal aspect. There are ghosts and I loved it. It was a little spooky here and there but in the best way.
Overall, I was happy to be surprised to enjoy this book so much. I didn’t have many expectations, probably because I’d not heard much about it. But I find that I enjoy books more when I try to go into them without expectations. This is one I’d definitely recommend for contemporary lovers.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.