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.

Goodreads Monday: How to Be the Best Third Wheel by Loridee De Villa

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: How to Be the Best Third Wheel
Author: Loridee De Villa
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 3rd, 20222
Publisher: Wattpad

“A clean teen romance comedy about figuring out where you belong when all the constants in your life begin to change.

It’s the last year of highschool, and everything has changed . . .

After spending summer vacation in the Philippines with family, Lara returns to school eager to catch up with her close knit group of girlfriends. But within minutes of reuniting with her friends, she learns that not one, not two, but all three of them are now in relationships that blossomed over the summer. And to make matters worse, Lara’s long time frenemy, James, won’t stop bugging her in class and eventually forces her into tutoring him everyday after school.

Surviving high school was never easy to begin with, but with occupied friends, a hectic Filipino family, and her annoying childhood enemy pestering her more than ever, Lara tries to juggle everything, while trying to figure out her own place in the chaos.” (Goodreads)

I was hesitant to request this one due to it being from Wattpad. I’m always on the fence about things from there, lol. I did get approved so we will see how it goes!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: When We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey

Title: When We Were Them
Author: Laura Taylor Namey
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: November 16th, 2021
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐

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

“When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton had a friendship that was everything.

When they were sixteen, they stood by one another no matter what.
When they were seventeen, they went through the worst.
And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all.

Now, the week of graduation, Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of the friendship she has nearly destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world… It’s enough to make Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the moments when she and her friends leaned on one another, she can’t avoid the moments they leaned so hard, their friendship began to crack.

As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she, without them?” (Goodreads)

I have enjoyed reading this author’s first two books and so it saddens me to have to make a review like the one I will be making. It sucks to read a book you dislike by an author you do like. In no means I am saying this is a bad book. Namey writes well and it shows throughout every book she has written. This one just didn’t mesh me and that’s okay, although still sad. I know that there is an audience for this book and it will do great because of it.

The book is told from two timelines, past and present. The present is very short since it only captures a week leading up to graduation for the group of friends. The past takes up a good chunk of the book. Both timelines are from the perspective of Willa. Usually I would be on board with a dual timeline. I have enjoyed many books with it. For this one, I’m not entirely sure but I think it boils down to the slowness of the plot as well as not connecting with the characters.

Friendship is a big part of the plot and these particular friendships go through a lot including grief. Grief isn’t a new topic in books, but I am always curious to see what writers do with the topic and how their characters will handle it because it can be different. I do get grief and I can connect on the surface level of it from this particular book but not being able to connect with the characters is what ultimately caused me to not mesh with the book. It really sucks when it happens, especially for a book you were hoping to love.

The book does start out with giving us a hint that the friendship between two of the girls has gone amiss. There really isn’t much to the mystery of it besides going back into past to figure out what went wrong. There wasn’t any particular plot twists that kept you engaged and maybe that is why it felt slow. I don’t think the payoff at the end was major and just kind of had me feeling meh about the whole thing.

Overall, this was okay. I liked the friendship between the girls and seeing how sometimes things happen that make friends drift away. The grief was understandable too. I just couldn’t connect to the characters and with the plot being on the slower side I just couldn’t mesh with it.

Arc Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Title: You’ve Reached Sam
Author: Dustin Thao
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Grief
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

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

If I Stay meets Your Name in this heartfelt novel about love, loss, and what it means to say goodbye.

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.” (Goodreads)

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty disappointed that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. The blurb sounds like such a fantastic book and I have actually been enjoying (if you can enjoy a book about grief, ha) books that center around grief as I deal with my own. My biggest issue for this one lies with the characters.

Julie is dealing with the loss of her boyfriend and it’s been rough when you blame yourself and seclude away from the outside world. I understand the guilt of feeling like something could have been different. I’ve been there numerous times. I understand her grief and wanting to be able to say one last goodbye and hear their voice once again. The problem is I couldn’t connect with her beyond that and felt she was a bit selfish when it came to her friends. I also didn’t totally feel for her story either. It’s easy to understand her actions but it wasn’t easy to feel the emotions I know I should have when it comes to a story about grief. I honestly don’t even know if this is making sense, heh.

The other characters were fine but again, there was just no emotional connection. There was nothing that left me wanting to continuously read.

Overall, it was okay/ fine. It’s another case of “it’s me, not you”. It’s written nicely and I know others will connect with it better than me. So maybe this will be an unpopular opinion.

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)