Abbreviations #97

December 24, 2019

In an effort to get back on track with my book reviews and start 2020 with a cleaner slate, I'm sharing as many of them as possible before the year ends! We're sticking to the contemporary reads for today's set of reviews, but these are all contemporaries that I really enjoyed this year.

If you’re a rom-com fan, Would Like to Meet is going to be right up your alley! Upon discovering that the agency she works for is in serious trouble, Evie Summers has to convince their biggest client Ezra Chester to deliver the finished script for a Hollywood rom-com he committed to writing. Unfortunately, Ezra is suffering from writer’s block and Evie finds herself brokering a deal with him to prove that it is possible to fall in love in real life the way they do in the movies. I’m sure you can figure out where things go from there, as this set-up is straight out of your typical romantic comedy. But having all the familiar hallmarks in no way diminishes how fun this book was to read! It’s a sweet love story, for sure, including a few moments that had my heart fluttering in anticipation. But it’s also funny and heartwarming to see Evie’s personal journey from start to finish. This novel was so charming, and really sucked me in once I picked it up to read! Would Like to Meet was wonderful, and it gets a thumbs up from me. [Would Like to Meet was published on December 3, 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. I received an e-ARC via NetGalley from the publisher for review.]

Call It What You Want is a young adult contemporary novel that tackles a lot of situations that land right in the area of morally grey, and that means it isn’t always easy to read. While I won’t say that the situations our main characters Rob and Maegan are ones that I have experienced myself, their feelings and reactions are relatable. At a time when you’re in the process of growing up and figuring things out for yourself as a teen, it does happen to be difficult to navigate scenarios that are high intensity when it comes to emotional pressure or internal moral compasses. While it did take more than a couple of chapters for me to really get into this one, it did end up becoming really riveting as our characters found their choices and secrets and feelings spiraling in unexpected ways and not knowing what to do about it. It wasn’t always the most enjoyable read, as the reader is bearing witness to the hard stuff both characters must deal with. But because I came to care for both Rob and Maegan (and even some of the other individuals in their lives), I honestly couldn’t tear myself away from this story (and I fully cried at the end of it, which so rarely happens for me when I’m reading these days). It’s an incredibly well-done, compulsively readable story that packs a punch, and if you’ve enjoyed any of Kemmerer’s previous work, you’ll likely enjoy this as well. [Call It What You Want was published on June 25, 2019 by Bloomsbury. I received an ARC from the publisher for review.]

I picked up If I’m Being Honest after seeing plenty of praise from friends, and I’m so glad I let them convince me to check it out because it was so good! This novel is about Cameron Bright, who is a very blunt, opinionated girl that most people at her school consider a bitch… including the guy she has her sights set on dating. Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, Cam decides to win the guy over by ‘taming the shrew’ (translation: being nicer and making amends with all the people she’s hurt). But what begins as a quest to be better for someone else turns into Cameron discovering the truth of who she really is, and that, my friends, is ultimately what really made me like this story so much by the end. There’s so much more to Cameron than what readers are initially shown, and I really liked witnessing her character growth over the course of this story because it felt so real and so understandable (even though I doubt Cam and I would ever be friends in real life). Throw in the usual young adult contemporary elements of friendship, family and romance (all of which was well-done and not just factors to propel Cam’s personal journey forward), and If I’m Being Honest really hits all the marks to be a compelling, fun and well-written story. [If I'm Being Honest was published on April 23, 2019 by Viking Books for Young Readers. I borrowed an ARC from Kristin.]

While not all Kasie West’s young adult contemporary romances have been my cup of tea, I personally still consider them staples of my reading diet. They tend towards being quick reads with fun premises and sweet romances, and there are just times when that’s exactly the type of read that I need. Listen to Your Heart lives up to this expectation perfectly and is one of my favorites of her entire body of work. The setting felt cozy, the romance was sweet (though it’s predictable, if that’s something you wanted to know), and the characters were extremely likable. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Kate comes to realize that exploring all sorts of new opportunities could be a good thing, no matter what the result of such a journey is. While I did wish that a couple of the plot points were given a little more page time, I still thought Listen To Your Heart was a delight to read and definitely a strong addition to the Kasie West collection. [Listen to Your Heart was released on May 29, 2018 from Point. I received a finished hardcover from the publisher for review.]

If you enjoy teen rom-coms, rom-coms with a strong family aspect or even just a great rom-com in general, allow me to put 10 Blind Dates on your radar (if it isn’t already)! After breaking up with her boyfriend, Sophie seeks solace in the company of her large extended family as they celebrate the holidays together. But her family has their own ideas for how to get her out of her funk – they’re going to set her up on ten different blind dates with the person and venue of their choosing. This premise is obviously set up to be extremely entertaining and heartwarming, like any good rom-com, and Elston does an excellent job following through in her delivery. I was amused by the ten blind dates Sophie ends up going on, to be sure, as her family certainly has a variety of assumptions they operate on based on what they think will serve Sophie best from their perspective. It’s also fun that this is a holiday story, as many of the scenarios Sophie finds herself in (whether on a date or not) are heavily soaked in holiday traditions and festivities, and as someone who loves the holiday season, that was a total win for me. And there is a romance, and while I did think it was predictable, I didn’t feel like that was necessarily a bad thing. But what really had me falling in love with this novel was the way Elston incorporates the dynamics of a large, loving family as a central part of Sophie’s story. Coming from a large family myself and living with the complicated dynamics of that, it was so incredible to see that come to life in a way that felt so relatable. I honestly felt like it was the perfect blend of heartwarming and humorous, and I couldn’t stop smiling while I read it. It was an extremely charming read, and I would certainly recommend checking it out! [10 Blind Dates was published on October 1, 2019 by Disney-Hyperion. I received an ARC at BookExpo 2019 for review.]

Slay is a recent YA contemporary release about Kiera, an honors student and all-around good girl by day, creator of popular online game Slay (which is inspired by black culture) at night. Her world is turned upside down a Slay player is murdered for game-related reasons, and suddenly the critics all have opinions about this ‘racist’ and ‘dangerous’ game that Kiera created to be a safe escape. It’s a fascinating story about a teen girl who created a safe space to celebrate her culture online when she couldn’t find one in real life, and how she reacts when that space is threatened or judged by other people. This isn’t a comfortable story to read, by any means, as Morris constantly challenges the reader with different viewpoints of internal, unconscious and deliberate racism. It’s thoughtful and entertaining, and it’s a novel that I found to be a really refreshing, fun read. [Slay was published on September 24, 2019 by Simon Pulse. I received an ARC at BookExpo 2019 for revew.]

The Play is the newest installment of the Briar U series. It centers around Hunter, a hockey player we’ve met previously who has taken a vow of celibacy as he correlates his bad behavior with how well the university’s hockey team is doing, and Demi, who is a passionate and fierce gal who has been in a long-term committed relationship. They end up paired for a psych project, and as they get to know each other, they develop a friendship… and perhaps there might be something more, too. (Honestly, if you read a romance, you probably know that we’re going to expect an HEA.) Like the other books in this series (and its predecessor series), it’s a fun, quick read with a very cute romance! Hunter and Demi have some great individual character journeys, but it’s really their friend chemistry (and the eventual romantic tension) that really made this one so enjoyable. You also get the bonus of seeing many familiar faces (and they had me fangirl squealing, honestly) too! The only thing that didn’t work for me was the dramatic turn it took at the end, as it felt like it leaned in a little too much into using that as a plot device for more dramatic tension. But otherwise, this was such a great addition to the series! [The Play was published on October 7, 2019.]

2 comments

  1. I really enjoyed SLAY too, such a cool book. I'm definitely going to look into Would Like to Meet, that sounds lovely!

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. OOh, Would Like to Meet is on my TBR, glad to hear it was good. I liked Slay as well!
    Check out my review of So That Got Weird on Lisa Loves Literature

    ReplyDelete

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