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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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (And it’s my birthday)

Before I start this review I just wanted to quickly mention that IT’S MY BIRTHDAY I AM OLD

If you’ve been following my blog long enough you know I love books like this, books where there’s a jaw achingly sweet romance perfect for summer reading. This book had been on my radar for a while and then suddenly I came upon it in a cafe where they had used books for a 50p donation to charity… of course I snapped it up. It had a really sweet note in it as well obviously from the person who got it for the previous owner so I’ve kept that in it (I love finding little things like that in used books or library books.

Anna is moved to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school after thinking she was about to have the best year ever with her best friend and crush. Thankfully Anna meets some pretty cool people including Etienne who quickly becomes a close friend.

This book was really sweet  for the most part, though I did have some problems with it which I will go into. The writing was really easy to read and whilst quite fluffy was really fun to read and did have some deeper issues than just straight up romance. Though the end veered off into the fluff a bit too much.

Perkins creates a perfect dreamboat of a character in Etienne, however he spends most of the novel flirting with Anna despite having a girlfriend, granted most of the time he isn’t aware that what he’s doing is flirting but its still not great behaviour as he should’ve broken up with her when he realised he had really strong feelings for Anna and he wasn’t as committed to her as he originally thought.

Honestly, at times this felt a little drawn out because the characters kept getting themselves into stupid situations and fights which completely overcomplicated everything. But I suppose that’s all part of being a teenager really.

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Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy of this book to go with my blog tour post.

Lost Stars is about a girl called Carrie whose sister died causing her to go on a downward spiral, so her dad enrols her in a summer youth program in an effort to make her grow up.

I wasn’t overly fond of Carrie, whilst she was just acting out due to loss she just seemed really ignorant to her dad caring about her and just generally obnoxious, but thankfully she progressed as a character throughout the novel. Carrie loves astronomy which I loved reading about because it’s not often you read about teenage girls being interested in astronomy in novels.

This book dealt with loss so incredibly well. It showed the different ways people react after they’ve lost a family member.

I liked that it wasn’t just about how a boy changes how a girl acts etc. It was also her family, her experience in the youth program and just getting on with her life that made her grow up.

My one major issue with this book was I didn’t feel like there was anything really significantly different, it just felt like your standard YA novel about loss and growing up. There’s nothing wrong with that and it was an easy read but it just felt average to me.

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