Arc Review: Exactly Where You Need to Be by Amelia Diane Coombs

Title: Exactly Where You Need to Be
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Mental Health
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Florie’s OCD and her mother’s worrying have kept her from a lot of things, like having an after-school job and getting her driver’s license. And now that she’s graduated high school, while her best friend Kacey is headed off to Portland in the fall, Florie’s taking a parent-sanctioned gap year off before starting college. When the decision was made, Florie was on board, but now she can’t ignore the growing itch to become the person she wants to be and venture outside the quaint, boring Washington town she grew up in.

Winning tickets to see her favorite true crime podcast’s live show in California gives her the opportunity to do just that, if only for a few days. So—unbeknownst to their parents—Kacey and Florie set off on a road trip to San Francisco. The only downside in Florie’s opinion? Sam, Kacey’s older brother and Florie’s forever crush, is their ride. The Samson Hodge, who Florie hasn’t seen since winter break, and who she’d prefer to never see again, if possible. But Florie is willing to put up with Sam if it means one last adventure with her best friend.

Making it to San Francisco and back to Washington without their parents catching on isn’t a given, but one thing is for sure: this trip will change everything.” (Goodreads)

Can I just say that I still love this cover? It’s adorable and the perfect scene for a summer read, especially because the book involves a road trip as well.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Florie. She has OCD and a mother who is very protective and sometimes takes it too far. I understood both sides of this argument because it’s great to have your independence but as a mother myself, I also want to protect my child and its hard to not be overbearing. At least my child is five, haha.

Florie may not do anything outside of the normal but this is the summer for the possibilities to be endless. Florie and her friend win tickets to see their favorite true crime podcast hosts live and they take the chance for a fun road trip. Her friend Kacey always has her back and nudges her out of her comfort zone. Everyone needs a friend like that. I liked seeing them interact with each other throughout their trip and read about all of the fun things they did. It made me ready for my own trip. If only I was actually going anywhere, haha.

There is a surprise twist with romance involved but I liked the setup to it. It’s not a instant thing and the love interest has been a crush for awhile. They had to talk through a previous instant where they kissed and you could feel the awkwardness they were feeling! Definitely reminded me of being a teen.

The only thing I struggled with was the writing. I’m not sure why but it was hard to mesh with until I got farther into the book.

Overall, this was a cute read. Florie is a great character that goes through growth and finds her own voice. I liked seeing her talk about OCD as well as finding romance along the way.

Goodreads Monday: You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow (10/11/21)

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: You’d Be Home Now
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: September 28th, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte

“From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces comes a breathtaking story about a town, its tragedies, and the quiet beauty of everyday life.

For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one–the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was.

Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all?

Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be cured, the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many ghostie addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is–it might be time to decide for herself.” (Goodreads)

I’ve read one book by this author and I have wanted to read her other one and noticed she had this one come out recently. I did start it last night so we will see how it goes!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Blog Tour: Float Plan by Trish Doller

Title: Float Plan
Author: Trish Doller
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Mental Health
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher for reaching out and asking me to be a part of this blog tour and the complimentary copy to review! All opinions are my own.

“Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller’s unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself…

Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.” (Goodreads)

Buy Here

TRISH DOLLER is the author of novels for teens and adults about love, life, and finding your place in the world. A former journalist and radio personality, Trish has written several YA novels, including the critically acclaimed Something Like Normal, as well as Float Plan, her adult women’s fiction debut. When she’s not writing, Trish loves sailing, traveling, and avoiding housework. She lives in southwest Florida with an opinionated herding dog and an ex-pirate.

Instagram / Twitter / Website

CW: Suicide / Self-Harm

I have never been one to want to take a long boat ride anywhere, let alone travel, but this book made me want to drop everything and feel the wind in my hair!

The setting was a perfect escape full of tropical places, island hopping, and sight-seeing on an adventure of a lifetime for Anna after losing her fiancé. Not only is it filled with all of those things but it is also a journey of healing as she deals with the grief of what she has lost.

Although I have not lost my spouse, I can understand grief as I have my own when it comes to losing my grandmother due to old age. I have also seen my step-sister deal with the loss of her father to suicide. Grief may be caused by different outlets but it is still one of the hardest things to deal with and learning to cope with it is different as well. Anna chooses to deal with it when her phone alarm sounds for the day they were both to depart on this trip. She packs up and leaves her life behind after spending many months in bed. Honestly, it takes guts to do what she did! I don’t think I could ever manage such a thing but it was so refreshing to see her face everything head on.

Things don’t always go according to plan and that’s when Keane enters into the picture.

One thing I loved about the romance and the relationship that blossomed was that it didn’t happen overnight. It took time and Keane was understanding of her and what she had to work through on her own but was also there to give her a boost, especially when it came to sailing. I liked learning more about him and what happened to his leg. I honestly can’t remember reading a book where someone had a prosthetic but it’s great to see all of the different rep in books these days.

I will say that Keane could be a bit too perfect and there wasn’t as much drama as I thought there would be, especially compared to other books in this genre, but it wasn’t entirely a bad thing. There are genuine guys out there and I liked seeing one in a book that didn’t end up being a dillweed for some stupid reason.

Overall, there was so much to like about this book! I’d definitely recommend to those who enjoy this genre.

Anna—

There’s a kind of jacked-up happiness that comes when you know your life is almost over, when the decision to end it becomes solid. It might be adrenaline. It might be relief. And if I had always felt like this, I might have climbed mountains or raced marathons.

Now it’s just enough to see this through.

I should have left you alone that first night at the bar. If I had, you wouldn’t be reading this letter at all.

You’d be walking your dog or watching TV with your boyfriend. You didn’t deserve to be dragged into my shit, and you definitely don’t deserve the pain I’m about to cause. This is not your fault. For two years you have been my only reason for living. I wish I could give you forever.

You are strong and brave, and someday you’ll be okay. You’ll fall in love, and I hate him already for being a better man. Someday you will be happy again.

I love you, Anna. I’m sorry.

—Ben

ten months and six days (1)

I walk out of my life on Thanksgiving Day.

Last-minute shoppers are clearing shelves of stuffing mix and pumpkin pie filling as I heap my cart with everything I might need. (Dry beans. Canned vegetables. Rice.) I move through the grocery store like a prepper running late for doomsday. (Boxed milk. Limes. Spare flashlight.) I am quick so I won’t lose my nerve. (Apples. Toilet paper. Red wine.) I try not to think beyond leaving. (Cabbage. Playing cards. Bottled water.) Or about what I might be leaving behind.

My mother calls as I’m wrangling the grocery bags into the back seat of my overstuffed Subaru. I haven’t told her that I won’t be there for Thanksgiving dinner, and she’s not ready to hear that I’m skipping town. Not when I’ve barely left the house for the better part of a year. She’ll have questions and I don’t have an- swers, so I let the call go to voicemail.

When I reach the dock, the Alberg is right where it should

4 Trish Doller 

be, the shiny hull painted navy blue and the transom empty, still waiting for a name. For a moment I expect Ben’s head to pop up from the companionway. I wait to see his little fuck-me grin, and to hear the excitement in his voice when he tells me today is the day. But the hatch is padlocked, and the deck is covered in bird shit—another part of my life I’ve let fall into neglect.

Ten months and six days ago, Ben swallowed a bottle of pre- scription Paxil and chased it with the cheap tequila that lived under the sink, and I don’t know why. He was already gone when I came home from work and found him on the kitchen floor. In his suicide note, he told me I was his reason for living. Why was I not enough?

I breathe in deep, to the bottom of my lungs. Let it out slowly.

Step onto the boat and unlock the hatch.

The air is stale and hot, smelling of wood wax, new canvas, and a hint of diesel. I haven’t been aboard since before Ben died. Spiders have spun their homes in the corners of the cabin and a layer of dust has settled on every surface, but the changes leave me breathless. The interior brightwork is varnished and glossy. The ugly original brown-plaid cushion covers have been replaced with red canvas and Peruvian stripes. And a framed graphic hangs on the forward bulkhead that reads i & love & you.

“Why do all this work for a trip you’ll never take?” I say out loud, but it’s another question without an answer. I wipe my eyes on the sleeve of my T-shirt. One of the things I’ve learned is that suicide doesn’t break a person’s heart just once.

It takes me the rest of the morning to clean the boat, unload the contents of my car, and stow everything away. Traces of Ben are everywhere: a saucepan at the bottom of the hanging locker,

Float Plan 5

an expired six-pack of Heineken in the cockpit lazarette, a moldy orange life jacket stuffed in the refrigerator. I throw these things in the trash, but even with my spider plant hanging from an over- head handrail and my books lining the shelf, the boat belongs to Ben. He chose it. He did the renovations. He charted the course. He set the departure date. My presence feels like a layer as tem- porary as dust.

The last thing in my trunk is a shoebox filled with photos taken using Ben’s old Polaroid, a dried hibiscus flower from our first date, a handful of dirty-sexy love letters, and a suicide note. I take out a single photo—Ben and me at the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse about a week before he died—and stash the box in the bottom drawer of the navigation station. I tape the photo to the wall in the V-berth, right above my pillow.

And it’s time to go.

My only plan was to spend today in bed—my only plan since Ben’s death—but I was startled out of sleep by an alarm. The notification on my phone said: TODAY IS THE DAY, ANNA! WE’RE GOING SAILING! Ben had programmed the event into my calendar almost three years ago—on the day he showed me his sailboat and asked me to sail the world with him—and I had forgotten. I cried until my eyelashes hurt, because there is no lon- ger a we and I’ve forgotten how to be me without Ben. Then I got out of bed and started packing.

I’ve never been sailing without Ben. I don’t always get the ter- minology correct—it’s a line, Anna, not a rope—and I’ll be lucky if I make it to the end of the river. But I am less afraid of what might become of me while sailing alone in the Caribbean than of what might become of me if I stay.

E-Arc Review: The Castle School: For Troubled Girls by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Title: The Castle School: For Troubled Girls
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




“When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend, Nathan, died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the odd headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief―and the real reasons her parents sent her away.” (Goodreads)

I have read two other books by this author and although one was just an okay read, I figured why not read a third book.

This book was different than I expected as on netgalley it says “dark psychological contemporary”. To me, there was nothing dark or psychological about it. I think that is where part of my disconnect was with this story.

When it came to the characters, Moira is the MC and has the biggest point-of-view. The plot is mostly about her journey through grief from the loss of her best friend. It was interesting to read about her from start to finish. She goes through a lot of development along the way even if she questions the headmaster’s motives. I wouldn’t say I fully connected to her but it didn’t lessen my likeness for her.

There are other chapters about each girl who attends this school and covers how each one got there. I thought this was a nice touch since when they are first introduced we are told about what brought them there. Each one is dealing with a different issue. I like this added bonus but I also wish we got more from them throughout the plot. A few of the girls are more major than others but it just wasn’t enough for me.

One thing I like about this author is that she talks about mental health. In this day and age our mental health is more important than ever. I like seeing it discussed in YA books and I hope there will be a lot more books about it.

Overall, it was a good book. I didn’t fully connect to the story but I appreciate what the author wrote about and can see many enjoying this book.

CW: Self-Harm

E-Arc Review: Girl on the Ferris Wheel by Julie Halpern & Len Vlahos

Title: Girl on the Ferris Wheel
Authors: Julie Halpern & Len Vlahos
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Mental Health
Publication Date: January 12th, 2021
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ecopy to read in exchange for a review!




In Girl on the Ferris Wheel, Julie Halpern and Len Vlahos expertly tackle this quirky and poignant romance that explores what first love really means—and how it sometimes hurts like hell.

Tenth graders Eliana and Dmitri could not be more different. He’s an outgoing, self-confident drummer in a punk band called Unexpected Turbulence. Eliana is introspective and thoughtful, and a movie buff who is living with depression.

Dmitri quite literally falls for Eliana when he sees her in gym class and slams into a classmate. The pair then navigate the ins and outs of first love. Exciting, scary, unexpected, and so much more difficult than they ever imagined. They say opposites attract, but they soon realize that there is so much they just don’t understand about each other. It begs the question: How long can first love possibly last when you’re so different?” (Goodreads)

I want to start this review off by saying that when it comes to this book I think the reason it didn’t work for me is that it read more on the lower side of YA. I do think that a lot of teens will be able to relate to this book.

I really wanted to enjoy this book after reading a book by one of the authors earlier this year. The cover is also a bonus!

The book has an interesting format as it is split into different seasons. Throughout each season there are two point-of-views, one for Eliana and one for Dmitri. In a book about falling in love, it’s always nice to see the split point-of-view because it helps to see each side of the relationship.

Both of the main characters are learning what it’s like to be in relationship for the first time. It’s not easy, especially when you are young. I don’t think that the drama was over the top and could see each instance playing out in real life.

Eliana struggles with her mental health and that does a play a role in some of the issues they have. I do think that the authors covered the topic fairly well and didn’t use it as a way to create more drama between them.

Another thing I liked was the setting. As a girl who grew up in Minnesota, it was cool to read about locations that I have been to.

One of the reasons I couldn’t get into the book was the writing itself. Some of it just felt clunky and it didn’t feel like the YAs I usually read. I also mentioned above it just felt like it was on the lower end of the YA spectrum. This is just personal preference.

Overall, it was an okay book for me but I know that in the hands of other readers it will be a great book.

Arc Review: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Title: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
Author: Wai Chim
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for hosting a giveaway to win an arc!




An authentic novel about growing up in a migrant Asian family with a mother who is suffering from a debilitating mental illness.

Anna Chiu has her hands full. When she’s not looking after her brother and sister or helping out at her father’s restaurant, she’s taking care of her mother, whose debilitating mental illness keeps her in bed most days. Her father’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could be a normal teen.

But when her mother finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as her mother’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is a heart-wrenching, true-to-life exploration through the often neglected crevices of culture, mental illness, and family. Its strong themes are balanced by a beautiful romance making it a feel-good, yet important read.” (Goodreads)

I remember reading a review for this book last year from Amanda @aelilyreads. I hadn’t got to it yet since it hadn’t been published in the US, but recently I won an arc from Goodreads! My first one ever! It made it more easy to bump it up on my tbr, ha.

I knew that this book was about mental health but I didn’t know how emotional and real it would be.

Anna is trying to be a good daughter and take care of the household, including her siblings, when her mother can’t get out of bed on the bad days. It’s a lot to take on as a teen, especially when you feel like you have no one to talk to. It’s hard and it impacts everything else in your life like school.

When Rory comes into the picture, things start to change for her. She is opening up a bit more, helping her dad at the restaurant, and just being normal for once. Rory also has experience with mental health and helps her along the way when things become worse.

Each character, even the minor ones, made me feeling something which doesn’t always happen.

I loved that this book doesn’t sugarcoat anything. It gives you the raw and realness of mental health. It’s not easy and sometimes there are relapses. It doesn’t just take a toll on the person who is dealing with it, but also those around them. It’s very hard and very emotional.

The book also talks about microaggressions and even though it was a minor topic it was still nice to see.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read even though it dealt with heavy topics. I’m glad to see more books like this out there because sometimes society can push mental health into a corner.

Weekly Update (2/16/20)

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Hello Lovely Bookworms!

I have been in a weird head space lately. This week has been something else when it came to my mental health and my blogging/instagram have suffered for it but that’s okay. I definitely feel a lot better and hopefully this coming week will be great!

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Blog Posts From This Week:

Books Finished This Week:

  • The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
  • Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee
  • The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
  • Spindle and Dagger by J. Anderson Coats
  • East by Edith Pattou
  • The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Currently Reading:

  • Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  • In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

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How was your week? Did you do anything fun over the weekend? Read anything good this week? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

How to Make Friends with the Dark: NetGalley Review

thegeekishbrunette review

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Title: How to Make Friends with the Dark
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: April 9th, 2019
Rating: 3.5 stars
Contains (Warning): Suicide, Domestic Abuse, Parental Death, Language

eARC provided by publisher (Delacorte Press) through NetGalley

->Click for Synopsis<-

Tiger Tolliver is like any other teen. She is worrying about boys and dances but when she gets a phone call about her mother, everything changes. She must now learn how to live without her mother and figure out how to deal with the darkness that is creeping in.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when diving into this book. I was drawn in by the cover and the synopsis made it sound quite intriguing. In some ways this book lived up to my expectations and in other ways it lacked a bit for me.

Tiger Tolliver is a typical teen until the death of her mother starts a domino effect of events. She doesn’t know how to even begin to cope with her mother’s death and having to deal with arranging the funeral, foster homes, and living relatives brings more stress and adds to the blackhole of emotions she already has.

This book is filled with tough subjects like the ones mentioned above and I am not sure how anyone manages to pull themself out of those circumstances. Tiger brings new light to issues that some children and teens face. It is quite heartbreaking.

The writing style was hard to get into and some of the little extra things, like the hashtags, just didn’t seem necessary to me. There was some language which also is a turn off for me but I can understand why it was used since the book is about a teen.

The plot was filled with many dramatic details and at times it felt overwhelming. Some of the minor characters were present and then gone. I was hoping Thaddeus would be mentioned in the epilogue part but sadly he wasn’t. I did like how they added an epilogue but it just wasn’t as conclusive as I wanted it to be.

Overall, it was still a read that I will remember even if I may have not been a fan of everything. Tiger is a heartbreaking character and sheds light on many hard topics that other teens may face in their life.