Mini-Reviews, 5/26/20 Edition

[fa icon="calendar"] May 26, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Suzanne

Mini-reviews of It Sounded Better in My Head, Every Reason We Shouldn't, You Deserve Each Other, The Hideaway Inn and What I Like About You. So that's a whole lot of contemporary romance - three YA and two adult.

Rating refresher! Categories are based on whether or not we recommend them to fellow readers -  DNF (Did Not Finish), Pass, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), Read it Eventually, Read it Soon.

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it-sounded-better-in-my-headIt Sounded Better in My Head, by Nina Kenwood
Suzanne says: Read it Eventually

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I was happy to know going into this that It Sounded Better in My Head is more of a coming-of-age story about falling in love while your parents are divorcing. The romance was present but didn't feel like the point of the book, which is fine but the cover doesn't really portray that. Set in Australia, a high school senior is dealing with a lot of life changes: waiting for university acceptance letters, (amicable) divorce of her parents and them moving from her childhood home, shifting friendship bonds... and now a romance with her best friend's brother.

I liked the story and it's definitely a book about teens written for teens. In particular, the main character has dealt with painful, scarring acne in the past and she's self-conscious about her body. The depiction of puberty was uncomfortably realistic. Her love interest is struggling to figure out what he wants to do since he didn't go to university, and his character arc felt real, too. However, the book is told entirely from one POV, which means we don't get as close a look at his emotional journey.

Content Warnings: divorce, slut-shaming (best friend's parents to best friend), MC describes puberty as "an assault" which should give you an idea of how graphic the description of her cystic acne and discomfort is

Suzanne received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is a Macmillan title and may be subject to library embargo.


every-reason-we-shouldntEvery Reason We Shouldn't, by Sara Fujimura
Suzanne says: Read it Eventually (if you like skating)

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A teen figure skater and a teen speed skater fall in love in this book, which is probably all readers need to know if they're into elite-level skating. Olivia is a pairs figure skater attending high school now that she and her partner had a disastrous performance a few months prior. Her former Olympian parents own a rink and her dad is on tour to raise money while her mom is in such pain from a spinal injury that she is largely absent from Olivia's life. Skating has always been her life and a large part of her journey in this book is about how to build a life without skating... or if she even wants to. Enter Jonah, a speed skater renting the rink for big chunks of time for training. They're a great couple--most of the conflict in their relationship is external and due to the requirements of elite-level skating. They're sixteen, which highlights the pressures to be grown-ups while still being kids. Includes: roller derby! snacks! lots of skating!

Content Warnings: spinal injury (parent), discussion of skating injuries, frequent references to restrictive eating

Suzanne received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review. This is a Macmillan title and may be subject to library embargo.


you-deserve-each-otherYou Deserve Each Other, by Sarah Hogle
Suzanne says: Read it Soon

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I adored this book. It's like enemies-to-lovers within an engagement-in-trouble. When we meet the characters, they're on their first date. Fast forward about two years and they're engaged and miserable. Unlike a lot of these books (To Have and to Hoax), You Deserve Each Other is told entirely from one POV, which makes us really dislike Nicholas at first. Eventually, we realize that he's been trying to get Naomi to cancel the engagement as well... or to make her angry enough that she'll finally start paying attention to him again. He rightfully calls her out for dissociating and instead of being an ally against his horrible parents, she's just checked out. In her POV, we see that she's felt he isn't being an ally, never standing up for her as his mother steamrolls her attempts at planning any part of their wedding.

Readers who have a low tolerance for sabotage and pranking will not enjoy this book, but readers who can get behind Naomi as she acts like the worst version of herself in an attempt to get Nicholas to dump her will be thoroughly amused and then charmed as the two find their way back to each other--stronger than before.

P.S.: Naomi didn't go to college and the fact that Nicholas is a dentist has caused some class/education rifts between Naomi's friends and Nicholas. I liked the way Hogle handled that.

Content Warnings: body-shaming (including that MiL has wedding dress sized down w/o bride's consent), horrible parents

Suzanne received a digital copy of this book for review but purchased it on audio.


the-hideaway-innHideaway Inn, by Nina Kenwood
Andrea says: DNF

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There’s a spectrum of gender rep and queerness woven into The Hideaway Inn, alongside sweet small-town vibes and delicious food made with locally-sourced ingredients.

Tack is kind and patient. He’s come out as bi (whoop, woop!) and is supportive of his child starting to use they/them pronouns. He has an interesting, loving life that I wanted to see more of. But I DNFed at 40% because Vincent's character is essentially a vessel for childish outbursts –and a very weird hatred for anything without meat. He’s rude way past the point of defensiveness, with a bad attitude that goes from 'Okay, he's not happy here' to ‘We getttt it, you're bitter' to unbelievably nonsensically disrespectful, and it just. keeps. going.

If the storyline interests you, I'd recommend you read Alexis Hall's Pansies instead. I wrote about why I loved it for our 'Defying tropes' list.

Content Warnings:  derogatory homophobic words, a few (seemingly accidental slip-ups) moments misgendering their kid

Andrea received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for review.


What I Like About You Cover ImageWhat I Like About You, by Melissa Kanter
Suzanne says: YMMV

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Readers who can lean in to the premise of a long-term deception and who don't mind a super-meta book about books will enjoy What I Like About You. Readers who often yell "JUST TALK TO HIM" at their books will not enjoy this story.

Halle is Kels on the internet, where she's a super-popular teen book blogger (hahaha) and she's been friends with Nash for years. Now she's moved in with her grandfather and uh oh, it happens to be the same town Nash lives in. When they first meet, she pretends she doesn't know who he is and then she continues the deception for most of the book. Her brother points out to her "you've read this book, you know it never works out well," and she still doesn't wise up. It's incredibly frustrating and I didn't buy her reasoning. Still, I knew what I was getting into and was able to ignore it for the most part. All the book talk got boring after a while and I was far more interested in Halle's relationship with Judaism, her family and her new friends. I wonder if people who aren't as into the book blogging community might have found it more interesting?

One note - this is a book about teens written for teens. This is made very clear over and over. Adults reading this book will probably feel offended. Teens may feel validated.

Content Warnings: grief, recent past: death of grandparent, lying

Suzanne received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.


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Topics: review