Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – More About Grief Than I Expected

content warnings: off the page death,

Amy’s mother has decided they’re going to move across the country, and this means Amy has to move her car across the country. But she can’t do that because she’s terrified to drive ever since her dad died in a car accident. So she ropes in an old friend, Roger, to drive the pair of them as he also has to go to the East coast.

Look I don’t really know what I expected going into this book but it wasn’t what I got. Some things I liked, some things I didn’t. I got the book out from the library because I really wanted to read some cute contemporaries, so Morgan Matson was one of the first authors I thought of. I think I was really wanting something similar to The Unexpected Everything and this was just not that. There was a lot of talk of loss and post-trauma anxiety and the romance kind of took a back foot to this. Which I liked but also I just wanted something cute.

I think one of the biggest things I really appreciated was that Amy and Roger’s friendship developed before any romance. They spent all the time together and you could tell that they just really liked each other’s company and whilst there was gradual romantic feelings bit by bit which you could tell as a reader and it was nice for them to get that base before jus stumbling into hardcore feelings.

I actually wasn’t a huge fan of Amy to be honest, but that’s more a personal thing than her being a bad person or anything. I found her kind of whiney at times and a bit entitled. And yes I’m well aware that she’s been through a lot but she seemed to forget at times that yeah she lost her dad but her mum lost him too, and she wasn’t really fair on her mum at times. I liked Roger but I wish we got more from him.

I really loved the road trip parts of it. As someone who loves to travel I often find road trip books cringey because they can be so badly researched and you can just tell when someone hasn’t done their research. But this was definitely researched well, I think Matson did the trip herself. I loved that they went to the small towns along the way they didn’t expect to because that’s what happens on trips often. When I did my trip of Asia the actual cities weren’t really negotiable because we booked our flights prior, but the places we went to when there often turned out to be things we hadn’t planned on, or only went after hearing about it when there. That’s one of the best parts of travelling. This book puts that across. I think the thing as well is that it made me want to visit Utah of all places in the States. I’ve never wanted to go there before, but God from the way this book is described I want to go there and see the scenery so bad.

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P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

content warning: girl on girl hate.

When Lily gets bored in Chemistry class she starts scribbling the lyrics to her favourite song on her desk. The next day she’s found that someone has answered back. Suddenly they’re swapping notes and Lily lives for every chemistry lesson to find the next note. But whilst she is falling for the note writer she’s also reconnecting with her childhood friend who she has not been getting on with at all lately.

This honestly felt so cliche at times, like the exchanged love notes through lyrics etc. which just felt like something 14 year old emo me dreamed of. And look, I do not remember this book. This review is going to be solely based on my very few notes and trying to remind myself of goodreads reviews. And yes I read this book in March but I can remember books I read 2 years ago so I think you can tell how forgettable this book was for me.

If you like books where there’s no girl on girl hate this is not for you. I got very angry reading it because it was so flipping old school like early 2000s teen movies where all the girls were battling each other for a boy and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. This book came out in 2016 you’re better than this Kasie! I also felt uncomfortable that it was immediately assumed by Lily that she was talking to a guy. I found this really weird because it could literally be anyone, and how could she tell from the way the person writes?

Hate to love is one of my favourite tropes so read it for that was nice like for that aspect it was a nice story. I could tell who Lily would end up with from a mile away and it was nice reading the relationship progress. This was also a super quick read for me, as I’ve found all Kasie West books are because they’re pretty light and fun and have a good flow.

But hey, this book really isn’t that bad, it just wasn’t great and was a bit of a dud for me. I reached the end and didn’t hate it which is always good I guess? And it has not put me off Kasie West, I think she can definitely write some good romcom YA, this just wasn’t it.

 

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The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Sorry for the lack of post on Monday but my laptop was getting repaired and I hate oing posts on mobile.

Ok so basically fake dating is one of my absolute favourite tropes so this was a very fun read for me.

I’m really sorry I can’t remember if there are any content warnings, but if there’s anything you’re worried about let me know and I’ll find out for you!

So Gia’s boyfriend breaks up with her on the night of her prom (what a douche) and she panics because none of her friends believe she had a boyfriend in the first place so she sees a guy in the car park and asks him to be her date for the night. And by some weird bit of luck he says yes. Soon they develop a mutual agreement of being each other’s dates for events that they need to pretend to have someone for.

To start with this book is very much a white rich people problems book. Honestly I found myself rolling my eyes a lot for the situations involved because they were so trivial. However that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it.  Whilst I thought the situations an decisions were a bit ridiculous it was so easy to read and entertaining.

In terms of our main characters, Gia really annoyed me. I can’t remember why but I remember her attitude at the beginning really bothering me. But her character development was really good. There were some really bizarre female friendships on Gia’s side of things. She fell out with a bunch of her friends and they didn’t act great towards each other, however she also found a new friend who really helped bring out the good in her. On the other hand we have Hayden who was my absolute favourite boy and I would die for him.

This book is kind of your classic contemporary teen romance. Some kids acting silly and getting into ridiculous problems, but it’s important to remember that it is teens and teens are unpredictable and unreliable and I feel like books like this are often more connected to teens than ones that are more deep. But that’s just me.

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Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame | Addictive but Not Good

Where to start with this book?

Content warnings: slight incest, cheating

So I got this out of the library because I wanted to read something “trashy” and Joanne has read it and said it was ok and she knows someone who knows the author because hey she’s from Scotland, and everyone in Scotland knows each other.

And yeah this book is pretty trashy. But it keeps you reading it. Like I couldn’t stop reading it even though I was rolling my eyes constantly.

Basically, our MC goes to LA for the summer to spend time with her estranged father and his new family. There she meets her step brother Tyler who she immediately does not get along with. But then she finds out things more about him and begins to understand.

Now I didn’t make any notes for this because I’m an idiot and read it so quickly. I think had I not been so addicted to this I would’ve put it down and not picked it up again, which is what happened with Book 2. However, I did read this in the space of a day.

The characters are so draining. Eden is your typical “I’m not like other girls” who looks down on others and whilst there’s some positive female friendships there’s also some really catty parts. And don’t get me started on Tyler, that boy is such a prat. And like yeah he has past trauma and he’s like actually a multifaceted character but I’m supposed to like him when his development is like a snail pace. He made me so angry.

Also like this book is almost incest. If you watch porn you’ve probably seen the influx of “doing my step sister” videos. If you like those this is for you. And like, ok they’re step siblings but it was still weird.

All in all, if you want to read something that’s not deep just for a bit of a breather then read this but then maybe look up the blurbs of the sequels because I couldn’t make it past 2 chapters of the second book. I was so bored.

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Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper UK for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Our main characters are unlikely friends, Gabby is completely introverted whereas Ryan is a huge extrovert. But they are super close and the novel starts with them sleeping together at the end of their final year of high school before going back in time so the reader can find out the top ten moments of their friendship that lead to this moment.

This was fun if slightly disappointing. I’ve heard good things about Cotugno and how she’s one of the queens of contemporary YA, but this was just fine.

One thing I liked about this book is that the main character is bisexual and this is on page. She talks about her attraction to boys and girls, and if my memory serves me correctly she has relationships with both (I read this a while ago and my memory is hay I’m sorry). This isn’t something we find often in YA contemporary with an opposite sex main relationship.

The way the story was told was really interesting, it’s told from dual points of view and through 4 years of high school. I thought this was a cool different take on contemporary, but because this is only the top 10 moments of their friendship/relationship we only get to see those 10 moments and I would personally prefer seeing more, I would prefer seeing the day to day life as well as these moments.

I think this is what caused me to not connect with this novel in the way I would like to. The pacing is good because it is super fast to get through the 10 moments but that caused me to not really connect to the characters, like I didn’t have any emotional feelings towards the relationship and just didn’t really care. That isn’t to say I won’t try more of Cotugno’s work because it was fun to read and one of those books that you read when you’ve got a lot going on and you don’t need to pay a lot of attention to the plot.

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Kasie West and was really excited to read a book by her.

Caymen works in her mothers doll shop and they are struggling pretty hard with money. In walks Xander who Caymen instantly knows is rich and she wants nothing to do with him. But Xander just wants to get to know Caymen.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t hugely into this book. It felt very white. Like the characters had such white troubles. Which sounds like a weird complaint but all the problems just felt so over complicated and pointless. It was pretty predictable as well.

I did however like Xander, the love interest. He was a sweetie and it often felt like Caymen was being horrible to him just because he’s rich and like he can’t help that. I also enjoyed that a lot of the novel was set in the doll shop that Caymen’s mum owned. Though it did make the book slightly creepier than it needed to be.

The pacing was really good, I sped through the book. Apart from the problems I had with it I did enjoy reading it. I just wanted more from it.

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Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephenie Perkins

Like a lot of people this was my favourite of the Anna and the French Kiss series. There wasn’t a weird cheating undertone, and it just felt nice and natural, with some conflict that didn’t seem to come out of nowhere.

Isla has had a crush on Josh for 3 years but life has never worked right for them but then they bump into each other before going back to Paris for school and everything falls into place.

Isla has a best friend who has autism and she’s so incredibly protective of him and does not take any shit from anyone. The portrayal felt really positive and I liked that it was part of the story. It’s not ownvoices I don’t think so I’m not sure how true to autism it was but when I was reading it it felt good. It didn’t feel ableist or ignorant but if I’m wrong feel free to correct me please. 

I felt like the contrast between their lives in New York and their lives in Paris worked really well. We get to see different sides to the characters and got to know their families. It felt like the coming together of Anna and Lola’s stories in a way because Anna’s was set in Paris with little familial interaction and Lola’s was all about family. 

Again like with Lola this could totally be read as a standalone, and even though there are cameos from other characters in the series you can totally enjoy the book regardless. I would actually say if you were going to read just one book from the series because you aren’t a huge contemporary lover and just wanted to try one or whatever reason then I would recommend Isla.

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Children’s UK for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ve honestly been dreading writing this review because I loved this book so much and I don’t honestly know how to even talk about it.

Molly has a lot of crushes and all of them are unrequited, or she thinks they are because she never gets the confidence to tell them. When Molly’s sister Cassie gets a girlfriend Molly starts to feel even more sad about her unrequited love. But Cassie has a cute friend who Molly thinks maybe she could love, at the same time she starts to feel things for her coworker Reid.

This book is in contention for my favourite book of the year. I absolutely adored Simon Vs and I think I liked this even more. It has a chubby Jewish MC, a chubby romantic interest, lesbian mums, a pansexual, Korean character. It was just so wonderfully real. As someone who is pansexual it was especially important for me that there was a pansexual character.

This has a sort of love triangle but it’s not really a love triangle because one of the love interests is more of a forced flirtation caused by Cassie. But I liked how Albertalli dealt with the situation, it felt so real and not like how uncomfortable and silly some love triangles are.

I just want to take a second to talk about how much I loved the representation in this book. As someone who is both chubby and pansexual it meant a lot to me to read a YA book with characters who were the same. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read where there was a pansexual character and I’m just so happy about it. I hope that more books include pan characters. I also loved reading a chubby MC and about a chubby love interest. It’s not often that a love interest doesn’t have the “perfect” body. And on top of all that Molly has anxiety and she takes medication for it and that’s just part of her every day life and it was so good to read someone who has anxiety just living with it and seeing the ups and downs even with meds.

This book just made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. There’s something about the way Albertalli writes that I just really adore. She doesn’t add unnecessary drama and she just has characters living their lives. I also love how Simon Vs. had Oreos and this has Mini Eggs, I adore Mini Eggs but you can only get them at Easter time which makes me sad.

The wedding may date this book as it surrounds gay marriage being made legal in the states but I loved reading something that was relevant to where we are now.

I already want to reread this book because I just loved it so much and has solidified Becky Albertalli as an auto-buy author for me.

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How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Thank you to netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was one of my most hyped up lgbt+ reads of the year because hey, there’s not much f/f romance around. As a warning this book has emotional abuse from a parent who has mental health problems.

Grace spends her life moving between homes of her unbalanced mother’s boyfriends, where we pick up in the book she finds out that her mum is now dating her ex boyfriend’s dad and she now has to live with her ex boyfriend. Then Eva moves to town after losing her mum and Grace and Eva form an unlikely connection.

There was both bisexual and lesbian representation in this book which is always a good thing and the love interest was biracial which made it even better.

My biggest issue was just that I wished that Grace had communicated with Eva better. I wish she had actually told her that Eva having a relationship with her mother made her uncomfortable. In general I wish she had learned to put herself first a lot earlier, I felt very frustrated for a lot of this novel by Grace’s mum and whist obviously Blake wrote her character well for me to feel that way I think a little bit of communication would have alleviated some of that feeling.

The mum was honestly the worst character, she was so incredibly annoying and self obsessed. Now yes she had mental health problems, which is made clearly obvious and the MC is very good at not blaming her for every bad action but man it was so, I can’t even think of the word but it left me feeling like “???” at times. Like of course I know people exist like this and live heir lives like this, but I struggle to understand it because I just don’t know how they can do it. All I can say is that Blake wrote her really well. She was complex, as was every character. Both the MC, love interest and the best friend had some really good character development and it made the book an absolute joy to read.

There was a scene where our MC masturbates in this which I absolutely adored, not in a pervy way, but I’m all about books normalising female masturbation. You barely read about female masturbation in adult books let alone young adult books. I want young girls to know it’s ok to explore their bodies in the same ways that boys do and that it’s normal and there’s nothing wrong or promiscuous about it.

I want to read more from Ashley Herring Blake now, especially if she writes more lgbt+ books.

How To Make A Wish is out on the 2nd of May

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola is very happily in a relationship with her older rocker boyfriend, even though her parents hate him. Then her least favourite pair of twins move back in next door and she feels like the happy life she has set up for herself is going on a steady downward spiral.

I liked that whilst this was part of the series it also could be completely read as a stand alone. Anna and Etienne from the previous novel are in it but there’s nothing about them being there that would make you confused and wish you had read Anna and the French Kiss. That being said, I don’t think I know anyone who read this before Anna.

I really was not a fan of Lola, she felt like one of those hipsters who tried too hard to be “quirky” and I just wasn’t about it. She was a bit selfish sometimes too and for someone who thought she was so mature she just wasn’t. I think a huge part of why I didn’t like Lola was that she continued to stay with her boyfriend despite her parents and best friend not liking him. Personally if my friends tell me they don’t like someone I’m romantically interested in I will listen to what they’re saying because there will definitely be a reason that I’m not seeing. Max was also just a bit of a jerk, never mind the fact that he was in his early 20s dating a 17 year old, does he not have girl’s to date his own age?

Lola had the same problem that Etienne had in the previous novel in that she just couldn’t seem to break it off with her boyfriend even though she was basically emotionally cheating on him. That being said though, Cricket was miles better than Max (still shouldn’t cheat though), he was sweet, loyal and didn’t make me want to kick his head in.

There was some ok diverse representation in this, including gay dads, where you got to meet Lola’s birth mum and saw how much of a riot she was and how her dads were much better for her (something I easily understand but is good to see in young adult books which could possibly make kids see things differently) and a Korean best friend.

I have already read Isla and the Happily ever After and it’s safe to say that Lola was my least favourite book in the series, it didn’t have the charms that Anna and Isla had and something just felt off to me.

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