Audiobook Review: A Year to the Day by Robin Benway

Title: A Year to the Day
Author: Robin Benway
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: June 21st, 2022
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐

“It’s been a year—a year of missing Nina. A year of milestones—holidays, birthdays, everything without her.
Leo feels like she should remember what happened that night. But all she knows is that she left the party and got into a car with Nina and Nina’s boyfriend, East.
East, who once promised Nina he’d watch out for her younger sister. East, who has been trying to keep that promise every day since. But East won’t give Leo the one thing she wants—the one thing she needs. He won’t tell her anything about the accident. He won’t talk about that night at all.
As the days tumble one into the next, Leo’s story comes together while her world falls apart. The only constant is the one person who can help her bear the enormous weight of her love for Nina—and East might be carrying too heavy a load of his own.” (Goodreads)

I’ve only read one book by this author and I did really like it so I wanted to give her latest book a chance. Unfortunately, it was one of those “It’s me, not you” situations.

The book is told from the point-of-view of Leo. The timeline starts a year before the accident and goes backwards until we get to the day of the accident. This was the thing that I disliked the most which kind of just ruins the book even if I liked the characters. It was a bit confusing and I felt like it made everything a bit lackluster as well.

I did understand Leo’s grief and felt for her on that front. Grief isn’t an easy thing to deal with and she tries her best to get through it even when life is still moving around her. I do wish we would have had more moments between the sisters because I think it would have made the bond feel stronger but we only get a scene with them prior to the accident.

Overall, it was okay but the timeline just didn’t work for me.

Audiobook Review: Someday We’ll Find It by Jennifer Wilson

Title: Someday We’ll Find It
Author: Jennifer Wilson
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: April 26th, 2022
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Seventeen-year-old Bliss Walker has been stuck in a home that doesn’t feel like hers for six years. Ever since Mama dropped her off and never came back.
Then, the summer before her senior year of high school, two things happen: Mama returns out of the blue, and Bliss meets Blake, a boy who listens like everything she has to say is worth hearing.
It should be a dream come true. But as the summer spins on, Bliss finds herself facing a painful choice: between the life she’s always longed for, and the world she’s starting to make for herself.” (Goodreads)

I really wanted to read this one because of the cover. I can’t say I even remembered what it was about before starting it. There are certain things that I liked about this book, it shows the messy side of family and relationships, but all of the characters were just straight up trash to the main character Bliss.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Bliss. She is trying to figure out what is next for her once high school ends and also where she belongs since her mother dumped her on her aunt’s doorstep and hasn’t been back since. Even though there are certain things about Bliss I didn’t like, I can see why she stuck around for so long with her boyfriend and wanting to see the best in others. Honestly, there really isn’t much good in any of the characters, save for her uncle and maybe the new love interest but the way they handled their attraction was a strike.

As I previously mentioned twice, the side characters were crap (pretty much every one). They treated Bliss like a doormat and walked all over her, even her family wasn’t too kind. I get that everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows but this was just too much for one girl to take. I’m surprised she didn’t just break down and cry at some point.

The plot is filled with a lot of drama whether it be from her boyfriend or family. There is also the love interest (mentioned above) that causes issues in her current relationship but at least gives her some happiness.

Overall, this was okay but just wasn’t my cup of tea. I did think that the narrator did a good job though.

Arc Review: The Epic Story of Every Living Things by Deb Caletti

Title: The Epic Story of Every Living Things
Author: Deb Caletti
Genre: YA Contemporary / Coming of Age
Publication Date: September 13th, 2022
Publisher: Labyrinth Road
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Harper Proulx has lived her whole life with unanswered questions about her anonymous sperm donor father. She’s convinced that without knowing him, she can’t know herself. When a chance Instagram post connects Harper to a half sibling, that connection yields many more and ultimately leads Harper to uncover her father’s identity.

So, fresh from a painful breakup and still reeling with anxiety that reached a lifetime high during the pandemic, Harper joins her newfound half siblings on a voyage to Hawaii to face their father. The events of that summer, and the man they discover—a charismatic deep-sea diver obsessed with solving the mystery of a fragile sunken shipwreck—will force Harper to face some even bigger questions: Who is she? Is she her DNA, her experiences, her successes, her failures? Is she the things she loves—or the things she hates? Who she is in dark times? Who she might become after them?” (Goodreads)

This was a unique read when it came to the topics that it dealt with. I can’t say I have ever read a book about a sperm donor. It’s a good topic for a coming of age story and it really helps to connect the characters that find themselves related to one another in an unexpected way.

The book follows one point-of-view and it comes from Harper. Although, there are journal entries at the beginning of the chapters that connect the past to the present. It’s fun to have little details like this that keep you interested.

Harper is a girl who wants to know more about who she is. Growing up with a single parent has left her with a lot of questions. I can understand being curious. It’s always something that is in the back of our mind with a lot of things in our lives. She goes through a lot of discovery and I’m glad that her mother let her do the summer trip. Harper wasn’t always kind to her mother, but at least by the end she understands her a little bit more.

There are times that it felt like the book lulled and didn’t fully keep my attention. I think it was more me than the book.

Overall, this was a good read. I liked reading about a topic I hadn’t before and the growth that Harper has throughout the plot.

Arc Review: No One Is Alone by Rachel Vincent

Title: No One Is Alone
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

“Michaela is a junior in high school, close with her single mom. Her dad lives a few towns away and pops in and out of her life only on holidays and birthdays. They barely know each other beyond surface obligations.

That is, until her mom dies. Suddenly on her own, Michaela has to move in with her Dad . . . and learns he’s been married with kids all this time, and she was the product of an affair. Before she can even grieve her mother, Michaela is thrust into a strange house with a stepmom and three half-siblings, including new sister Emery, who is in the same grade and less than thrilled at the prospect of sharing her room and school life. Will Michaela be able to let go of everything she’s ever known-and find herself anew-with a family who didn’t ask for her in the first place?” (Goodreads)

A read this author last year and it was a YA Fantasy. It was good but not a favorite and was curious how her contemporary would be. It definitely was a lot better and had me wanting to continue reading into the night. It was hard to put down.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Michaela. She is going through a lot right from the beginning when her mom suddenly dies from an accident. To make matters worse, she didn’t know her dad had another family with other kids. Talk about turning your world upside down! Because of all this, Michaela has a lot to navigate through and it isn’t always easy.

I may not have gone through anything Michaela has besides grief. It’s one of the worst things to go through. Even though that was the only thing we had in common I didn’t have a hard time connecting with her. You could feel her pain through the pages and you just want to give her a big hug.

The other characters are pretty memorable as well, especially the grandma. I had to deal with mine having dementia and it’s hard to watch them forget who you are. I understand why Emery distanced herself from it all. The siblings don’t always get along together but it’s easy to understand why they would have an issue with the circumstance of finding out you have another sibling. Sometimes I would get just as upset as Michaela at her stepmother but then I found myself seeing her point-of-view and it’s just a crappy situation for everyone involved. Each person really tried their best.

There is a lot of drama from family dynamics to school. Not everyone at her school has her best interest at heart and it’s easy to lose ourselves when grief is involved. The book does a good job of showing how each person deals with it differently as well as the stress of life.

Romance does have a very small part and although it has its hurdles for Michaela, she at least gets a happier ending.

Overall, this was a heartbreaking read but one that I really liked.

Audiobook Review: Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristin Dwyer

Title: Some Mistakes Were Made
Author: Kristin Dwyer
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 10th, 2022
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐

You can’t always go home again.

Ellis and Easton have been inseparable since childhood. But when a rash decision throws Ellis’s life—and her relationship with Easton— into chaos she’s forced to move halfway across the country, far from everything she’s ever known.

Now Ellis hasn’t spoken to Easton in a year, and maybe it’s better that way; maybe eventually the Easton shaped hole in her heart will heal. But when Easton’s mother invites her home for a celebration, Ellis finds herself tangled up in the web of heartache, betrayal, and anger she left behind… and with the boy she never stopped loving.” (Goodreads)

Unfortunately this one was just okay which is disappointing since I wanted to love it.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Ellis. There is an epilogue that gives us one chapter from Easton’s point-of-view. I would say that it was nice to get his perspective but I kind of wish that it had been throughout the book as well.

Although there are tropes I like found within the book, I just didn’t care much for Ellis. I understand first love and finding where you belong but she was selfish through it all. It felt like nothing was ever her fault and it was everyone else’s problem to deal with the mess she created.

Due to how the book is written, having past scenes, I felt like I didn’t really get to know the characters that well and some of the scenes could have just been left out because they felt like they didn’t add much. I usually do like dual timelines but I just couldn’t get into this one and at times it wasn’t specified that it had switched.

Overall, this book wasn’t for me. I have seen many others enjoy this one so take my review with a grain of salt.

Arc Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Daughter
Author: Kate McLaughlin
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thanks to the publisher for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a novel about trying right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.” (Goodreads)

I remember really enjoying this author’s book called What Unbreakable Looks Like and am so glad that the publisher sent me an email with early access to her latest! One thing that strikes me about her books are the topics that she decides to write about. They are harsh and can at times be hard to read because of it. It may not be for everyone and with certain topics I like to know beforehand what I am getting myself into when it comes to reading. So, here are the content warnings for this book: the usual when it comes to talk of serial killers, mentioning of necrophilia, and mentioning of rape.

The one thing that intrigued me before starting this book was how the blurb mentioned that the main character was the daughter of a serial killer. I have never read a book with that as a plot. Usually we get everything that is happening as it happens with a confession at the end. What about the aftermath of the events? What about the families that have been torn apart? What about the family who has to live their life in fear of someone retaliating against them for the crimes of someone they knew? This book deals with all of that and tries to start the narrative of bringing more light to the victims instead of the killer.

Scarlet Murphy is your typical teen who parties with her friends and tries to make it through life while having an overbearing parent. I can definitely see teens relating to her on that level. She deals with anxiety and although it was minor I at least liked that it was mentioned. Her relationship with her mom can be strained at times like any parental relationship and obviously fuel is added to the fire when she finds out who her father is. I think that a lot of Scarlet’s actions would be what any teen would do in a tough situation. She seeks parties and friends to help cope with the bad which is the meetings with her father. It definitely takes guts to try to take him on even when he is on his death bed.

Although she is new to the spotlight, her mother and family who she has never met are not. We get to read about dealing with the press and those who are obsessed with killers. Sometimes the incidents can be very intense! This is seen in our own society. There are websites dedicated to serial killers, women who want to marry them, and people who just want to know what it would be like to be them. The fascination of serial killers isn’t a new thing. I do think that with podcasts and YouTube it has become even more widespread than it was years back. I’ve often found myself intrigued by certain killers but obviously not on an unnatural level. It has always bothered me how killers get all of the spotlight, even on their deathbed, while their victims never get near enough. It’s honestly sad. It is one thing that I wish would change about the news or social media. I do like that the author feels the same and Scarlet does try to change the narrative.

I would say that my favorite part of the book was the meetings with her father. The author does a good job of painting him the way that many see Ted Bundy. He was charismatic but also calculated with his behavior. There aren’t very many meetings between them and although I would have liked to see more, I can understand the balance between them and the rest of the story. There has to be some relief to the tense moments.

The book has an interesting beginning and it does become slow as it builds up Scarlet and her life before it changes but I was still hooked and found myself at 56% in one sitting. If it wasn’t for sleep calling my name I would have stayed up to finish.

Overall, this was another fantastic book by this author! I’m so glad I was able to read it ahead of publication so I can share my thoughts. I hope some of you decide to pick it up because I want to talk about with another person, haha.

Arc Review: All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Title: All My Rage
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and BookishFirst for an advanced finished copy to review! All opinions are my own.

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.” (Goodreads)

I’ve always enjoyed Tahir’s writing from the first time I read her first book An Ember in the Ashes. She writes a lot of thought provoking pieces and her latest was no exception. It was interesting to see her switch genres and write something new outside of her usual realm.

The book follows three point-of-views: Sal, Noor, and Misbah. Each one has a story to tell and it’s hard to say which one was sadder. Although the book is filled with some happy moments, it definitely lives up to the title and will have you raging at the situations these characters have to face. It’s also more than just multiple point-of-views as one of them is told in past tense.

Some of the characters you will love from the beginning and others you will hate to no end. One in particular you will feel for and then maybe dislike a little for their choices but will be rooting for them again by the end. I felt like I was on a roller coaster with my feelings and it for sure felt that way when it came to the plot.

Even though I had read the blurb, I wasn’t prepared for what the plot would entail. Grief is a hard topic for me as I have dealt with my own lost a couple years ago that hit me hard. It’s easy to feel and understand why the characters chose to do what they did. Grief hits us all differently. There are also those that choose to tear people down through words and actions based on their race and sometimes even their religion. I have not had to deal with this and so I can’t comment on it as an own voice but I do sympathize for those that deal with it because it isn’t right. The two topics mentioned are just two out of many.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one even if it was heartbreaking. Tahir always writes beautiful books with tons of emotion. You can tell she really put her soul into this one. I’m happy for books like this because it gives me a glimpse into another’s life and one day I will be able to share it with my daughter to give her another perspective outside of her own.

Arc Review: We Were Kings by Court Stevens

Title: We Were Kings
Author: Court Stevens
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: February 1st, 2022
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Twenty years ago, eighteen-year-old Francis Quick was convicted of murdering her best friend Cora King and sentenced to death. Now the highly debated Accelerated Death Penalty Act passes and gives Frankie thirty final days to live. From the Kings’ own family rises up the one who will challenge the woefully inadequate evidence and potential innocence of Francis Quick.

The at-first reluctant and soon-fiery Nyla and her sidekick (and handsome country island boy), Sam Stack, bring Frankie’s case to the international stage through her YouTube channel Death Daze. They step into fame and a hometown battle that someone’s still willing to kill over. The senator? The philanthropist? The pawn shop owner? Nyla’s own mother?

Best advice: Don’t go to family dinner with the Kings. More people will leave the dining room in body bags than on their own two feet. And as for Francis Quick, she’s a gem . . . even if she’s guilty.” (Goodreads)

It’s been a minute since I’ve been invested in a YA Mystery / Thriller as much as I was when it came to this book right here! Seriously, it was so good and when I wasn’t reading about it I was thinking about it. I mean, I did finish this in one day and probably two sittings within that day. If I could wipe my brain and read this book again, I would.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Nyla Wagner. She is aware of the murder of Cora King as her mom visits Frankie Quick, the one found guilty of it, in prison for the past twenty years but doesn’t realize how close it actually hits. I liked Nyla and that no matter the danger she was ready to defend Frankie more than anyone has ever tried to in the past. You could say this is stupid on her part since she gets death threats and so on but she was determined to find evidence and prove her innocent especially because Frankie didn’t have time with the accelerated death penalty act. She did play with fire a lot when it came to the Kings because that family is something else!

I was intrigued by a lot of the other characters as well since it felt like they were all hiding something. This made it easy to question anyone and everyone. There were certain lies that were told by a couple to keep Nyla safe but it goes to show that even good intentions have their consequences. If I had to pick a favorite character besides Nyla, I would go with Cassandra King. She was sassy and didn’t care about starting drama in the family and got a kick out of it, ha.

My only complaint in this entire book would be relationship development between Nyla and Sam. It moved rather quickly from flirting to having feelings for each other in a short amount of time. I do get it though since they are teens. Since it is a smaller part of the book it was easy to overlook and it’s not like I didn’t like them together. It just felt sudden.

When it comes to the plot, I honestly can’t say much! It would give a lot away and this is one of those books where you should go in blind like I did. I was smiling, shocked, and even crying throughout this book. It was a wild roller coaster ride and I wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to books like this. I will say that it does talk about suicide so just be aware of that if it triggers you in any way. The plot also covers other topics like the death penalty, drug abuse/addiction, and another important one but it would veer into spoiler zone! I liked how these topics were discussed especially the death penalty because it has been a topic in the political world for many years.

The setting was cool for me since a lot of it was in Kentucky and surrounding states that I have been to as well as live near. It’s always fun to pick up a book that mentions actual towns or cities that you know!

Overall, this was a really great read and one that I absolutely enjoyed. It had my heart pumping in anticipation as to what would happen next and if Nyla would have enough time to stop the execution. If you are a fan of YA Mystery/Thrillers I would give this one a try! I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Audiobook Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.” (Goodreads)

I picked this one up on a whim at Books-A-Million and then I picked it up on a whim as an audiobook from the library because 1.) I really need to lower my physical tbr and 2.) The last two audiobooks I had picked up just weren’t doing it so I dnfed them. I am glad that I gave this one a chance because it was a cute/fluffy read that had me wanting to continuously listen to it.

I’ve honestly never seen You’ve Got Mail so I can’t compare this book to that movie. I do like books that have a for the main character and their love interest to communicate that isn’t face-to-face. Whether that format is texts, post-it notes, websites, I don’t care. I like them all and this was no different.

Sure, did I know who Porter actually was before Bailey? Yes, lol. It wasn’t that hard to figure out but I didn’t dislike the part of me knowing ahead of time. I will say that the reveal of it all was more dramatic than I had anticipated and not really in a good way but it didn’t distract enough from how much I enjoyed the rest of the book. They are very cute together and I liked how they started off on the wrong foot/more like enemies.

Bailey’s friendship with Grace was really nice but I do wish there would have been more between as it felt few and far between once Bailey was in a relationship. Which also is the reason for them having a small argument.

I did like the other characters and the plot had a lot going on so it never felt dull. I really wasn’t expecting that ending but it does make a lot of sense. It’s crazy all of things Bailey has been through when it comes to her time at her dad’s, lol.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. If you like cute/fluffy ya romances, I’d definitely recommend this one.

Book Review: Not Another Love Song by Olivia Wildenstein

Title: Not Another Love Song
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Angie has studied music her entire life, nurturing her talent as a singer. Now a high school senior, she has an opportunity to break into Nashville’s music scene via a songwriting competition launched by her idol, Mona Stone. Discouraged by her mother, who wishes Angie would set more realistic life goals, she nonetheless pours her heart and soul into creating a song worthy of Mona.

But Angie’s mother is the least of her concerns after she meets Reedwood High’s newest transfer student, Ten. With his endless collection of graphic tees, his infuriating attitude, smoldering good looks, and endearing little sister, Ten toys with the rhythm of Angie’s heart.

She’s never desired anything but success until Ten entered her life. Now she wants to be with him and to be a songwriter for Mona Stone, but she can’t have both.

And picking one means losing the other.” (Goodreads)

I have read a few books by this particular author so I was looking forward to her writing as a YA Contemporary / Romance. Although I still liked her writing style, I wasn’t a big fan of how dramatic and underdeveloped some of the things felt which ultimately led me to lose interest quite a bit while reading.

The book is told from the point-of-view of Angie. She is a high schooler who dreams of making it big as a singer one day and she idolizes a country singer named Mona Stone. She was fine to read about at the beginning but I do think that she could be quite selfish as the story went on. I did like that she built a bond with her crush’s sister as family is important to me and I like seeing how it plays out in books. I will say that at times the relationship between them felt forced and just to add more layers to the drama that encompassed their lives.

The relationship between her and Ten was interesting in the beginning but it felt like they spent more time a part than together but still getting to the point where they say “I love you” by the end. I’m not a fan of romance if there isn’t much development because it’s just hard to feel anything.

I’m not sure why some of the characters made the choices they made. Each character could be over dramatic and also just cause extra drama on top of it. Most of this happens halfway into the book and then on. It just got to be too much for me.

Overall, this was okay but definitely my least favorite by this author.