Book Review: Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Book: Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Published June 2018 by Feiwel & Friends|265 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In Adrienne Kisner’s Dear Rachel Maddow, a high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in this funny and heartfelt YA debut.

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

I really wanted to like this one more than I actually did.  I’m not sure what I was expecting this book to be, but it, for the most part, didn’t work for me.

So, Dear Rachel Maddow is told through emails to Rachel Maddow.  We learn what’s going on in Brynn’s life as she tells her story to Rachel.  I think, based on the title, I was expecting something more political.  I was expecting more of an election story than something deal with drug use and child abuse.  It was unexpected, but please keep that in mind if you pick up this book.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much as I thought- it seemed like it would be more light-hearted and fun, and the book turned out to be…well, not light-hearted and fun like the summary says.

I particularly hated her stepfather, who seems irritated he has to deal with step-children.  I mean, I understand that her brother died from what seems to be a drug overdose (it’s never stated outright how he died, but it’s strongly implied that’s what it was) and he doesn’t want her to end up like her brother.  But how does kicking her out, and insisting she’s going to contribute to the household (while not letting her go to her job) make things any better?  Don’t get me wrong, if they want her to get a job and pay rent once she’s 18, that’s fine.  But making it sound like her retail job isn’t a real job and generally treating her the way he does didn’t get any sympathy points from me.

Her remedial classes seemed a little odd.  It’s high school, but it seems like these teachers cover multiple subjects and have aides and tutors.  I was never placed in remedial classes, and I took mostly non-honors classes with a few honors classes sprinkled in.  Maybe it seems odd because that wasn’t my experience in high school.

I did like that she wanted all students to be heard, and not just a select few.  I think that was my favorite thing about Dear Rachel Maddow.  Throughout the book, you can definitely see that Brynn (and those like her) seem to get overlooked, and I liked seeing how important it was to her that all students were represented.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the story being told through e-mail.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t think I’m a huge fan of the whole writing letters/emails to a famous person, whether they’re dead or alive.  It does look like she got a response back from Rachel Maddow, and I kind of wish we had actually seen the e-mail back.  Especially considering we see emails from other people to Brynn, and emails between the principal and parents.  And it seems like a thing that she got a reply, so why not include it?

2 stars.  This book was okay, but I’m pretty sure it’s a better fit for someone else.

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Book Review: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Book: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Published May 2013 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|284 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he’ll forget about her while he’s away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she text him a picture of herself — sans swimsuit — to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits “send.”

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone — until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo — and didn’t look. 

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn’t always tell the whole story. 

I wanted to love this book, I really did.  I’ve read a few of her books, but none has lived up to the expectations that Hate List set when I read it years ago.

I do like that Brown tackles serious topics- everything from school shootings to abusive relationships to sexting.  I appreciate what Brown is trying to do, and you see how much backlash there is for what Ashleigh did.  I really came to hate Kaleb, and how he wasn’t really sorry for what he did.  At least, he didn’t seem truly sorry, and only seemed to care because of how it might affect his future.  You see the consequences of one action (for both of them), and it seems like Ashleigh bears the brunt of it, which is unfair.

She wants to fit in, and she really changes a lot.  I didn’t particularly care about past Ashley (she seemed boring and whiny, in my opinion) but present Ashley is a lot more interesting.  I’m not sure why, but the jumping around in time didn’t particularly work for me, and I felt more disconnected from it than I thought I would.  It’s like, I like the concept of her books, and on the surface, they seem like books I’d love, but in reality, I’m not as interested in them as I think I’m going to be.

That being said, I think her books are worth checking out if you like books that deal with issues teens night be dealing with today.  While I didn’t feel anything during (or after) reading this book, I can see why people really like it.  I just wish it were for me.

2 stars.  Thousand Words wasn’t for me, but I can see why people like it.  I wish it had something more, but I can’t really identify what was missing.

Book Review: The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord

Book: The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord

Published March 2015 by Bloomsbury|376 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Start Of Me And You #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? 

Emery Lord is becoming one of those who I absolutely love.  I wish she had more books I could read, because her books always leave me feeling like a sobbing mess curled up in bed.  I remember when I used to feel this way about books all the time (as in, the first few years of the blog), and I wish I felt more like this with the books I read.

So, this one, I wasn’t sure about initially, and I really liked Paige.  At first, I was irritated with the label of having a dead boyfriend, and people seeing her differently.  For a guy she was only dating for a couple of months when it happened, it seemed to be this big huge thing that happened in her life, and I didn’t quite get it.  I wish we had seen more of her time with him, because I has having a hard time caring.

I’m glad she had quiz bowl, and that she was determined to have a plan to get everything back to normal.  I’m glad I stuck with it, because by the end, I ended up loving it.

One of the things that really struck me was her relationship with her grandma.  For some reason, it made me think of my grandma, and how much I really miss her.  That sobbing mess I was by the end of the book?  It’s totally because of everything that happened with her grandma.  I don’t know why, but Lord’s books just wreck me, and while I wasn’t sure about it at first, I’m glad I stuck with it.  She won me over, and I don’t know why I doubted that I would end up loving it.

I also loved her friends, and there was something really cool about their friendship.  Lord does friendships and feels and love so well, and this book was no exception.  All of the girls are so different, but I’m glad Paige had great friends and I liked how they were there for each other.  They are all very lucky to have each other.

5 stars.  I loved The Start Of Me And You, and I can’t wait to read the next book.  If you want a sweet, cute contemporary with cool friendships, this is the book to read.

Book Review: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

Book: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

Published May 2018 by Point|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

I actually really liked Listen To Your Heart.  I’ve read quite a few of her books this year, and I went into it expecting an okay story.  I was surprised that I liked it so much.  I’ve noticed that her books tend to be pretty similar, with pretty similar characters, so it’s getting harder and harder to like her books.  And yet, I still keep reading them.

Anyway, back to Listen To Your Heart.  I think I liked it so much is because Kate is pretty cool.  She’s sarcastic, and scared to be a podcast host, and yet she continues to do and ends up liking it.  The lake is pretty important, but I’m glad to see her realize that there are other options out there, and that it’s okay to figure out what you want.

I know there are a few podcasts mentioned, primarily one about first dates.  I have no clue if they’re real or made up, but either way, I liked that her school had a podcasting class.  I myself am a podcast listener, so I think that’s another reason why I liked it so much.  You see the class pick a theme, and while it focuses on hosting the advice podcast, you do see elements of promoting it as well.

Is it weird that I kind of wish some podcasts been recommended at the end of the book?  I mean, I know some authors will mention songs or artists they listened to in the acknowledgements, and some authors (like Rachel Caine) have whole playlists at the end of the book, so I was half hoping there would be podcasts the author listened to or something.  I know this has nothing to do with the actual book…but still.

So, one of the things that kept from loving Listen To Your Heart is that it’s a typical Kasie West book.  It’s fun and sweet and there’s a romance, and it’s pretty predictable if you’ve read any YA contemporaries, but especially if you’ve read anything by West before.  I’m still not sure why I liked this one more than some of the other ones I’ve read this year, but I’m going to go with it.

4 stars.  I think I’ve said all I needed to say- it’s cute and fun, and I liked that Kate realized there’s more than the lake.

Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Book: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Published May 2018 by Simon Pulse|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

I didn’t like this one as much as I thought.  I’ve been on a contemporary kick lately, but this one didn’t work for me.  Which makes me sad, because I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, and I thought I’d really enjoy this one.

A big part of why I didn’t like this book was the format.  Twinkle writes letter to her favorite female filmmakers, which was cute.  But with the e-mails from her secret admirer and the texts added in as well, I had a hard time getting into the book.  In the midst of the letters, you’d see emails and texts, and then it would go back to the letters, and it was just irritating.  To the point that even though I went through this book pretty fast, it made me not care about what was going on.  And it took me out of Twinkle’s story, which didn’t help.

Then again, I thought Twinkle was absolutely terrible…so…yeah.  She really becomes self-centered, and she is terrible to Sahil, because he’s not his twin brother.  It’s clear he has feelings for her, and she does reciprocate those feelings, though maybe not initially.  She’s terrible to her best friend, and upset that her best friend has ditched her for the popular crowd, but doesn’t consider that maybe she’s part of the problem too.  She does find friendship and love in unexpected places, and at one point, it sounded like a complete set-up.  It wasn’t, and that was a relief, but I did expect Victoria to be up to something.

I was glad that Twinkle realized her part in things, and that her best friend apologized for how she treated Twinkle.  And the same with Hannah, but at the same, it was too late.  I mean, it did follow a progression, and Twinkle does take some time to realize things, but it was hard for me to actually care.

There were some funny moments in this book, and while it’s not set in the same world as When Dimple Met Rishi, it was written in the same vein- funny, guys you will probably swoon over, and heroine who knows what she wants.  It is weird, though, because some of the things I hated about Twinkle were things I loved about Dimple, but chances are, if you don’t like Dimple (the character) you probably won’t like Twinkle.  Unless you’re weird like I am.

I didn’t particularly about the romance in this one, which turns out to be a love square.  I didn’t particularly care about Neil being interested in Twinkle, and for some reason, I thought the emails were from Sahil.  They’re not, of course, but I was confused about how obvious it was that they were from him.  I was so, so wrong on that, and I don’t know why I didn’t connect it before.  I did find myself skimming over the texts and emails so maybe that’s why I didn’t connect everything.

At any rate, this book wasn’t for me.  Her books do sound really cool, so this one isn’t going to stop me from picking up her books in the future but I may be more hesitant going forward.

2 stars.  From Twinkle, With Love was okay, and I had a hard time getting into the book.  It was light-hearted and fun, but formatting and a heroine that was frustrating to read made it hard to like the book.

Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Book: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Published May 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens|390 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

I loved this book so much!  I was reading/finishing this one around the same time as Girl Made From Stars, and I was pretty emotional while reading this one.  Partly because I was still reeling from Girl Made From Stars, but also The Names They Gave Us is a pretty emotional book itself.

I felt so much for Lucy, and I think it’s because she reminded me of me a little bit.  Not the Christian doubting her faith part of it, but with how she felt about her mom’s cancer coming back.  Something about it made me think of grandma, especially the month or two before my grandma died.  While her mom is still alive at the end of the book, things are not looking good for her, and when I finished the book, I was hoping that her mom made it through.

Lucy is so hesitant to go to Daybreak at first, and I don’t blame her at all.  She does go, of course, and while I wasn’t surprised at Lucy’s journey, I was glad to be right there with her as got to know her campers, her fellow counselors and herself.

She learns a lot about her family as well, and even I didn’t see it coming, though certain things at the beginning of the book made a lot more sense once I had finished the book.  I really like seeing Lucy struggle with things, and how hard it was for her to fully deal with things, especially the family stuff we learn.  While it’s not completely resolved, I felt hopeful that things turned out fine for everyone.  It did end a little bit abruptly, and I was hoping for more closure, but at the same it kind of made sense for the book.  As much as I wanted more, at the same time, I’m also okay with wondering what happened next.

At first, I wasn’t sure about the religious aspects of the book.  I was expecting Lucy to be really into church and everything- she was, I think, and I do think she was genuinely sad about not being at her parent’s camp for the summer.  I’m glad she didn’t go in the complete opposite direction, and went on a downward spiral of ignoring and forgetting about her faith.  It was there, and while she struggled with her faith for quite a bit of the book, I was glad it was there.  It felt very inclusive somehow, and I know it might be off-putting for some people, but I thought it was done really well.

Lucy is compassionate, and I loved seeing her care about her campers and her counselors.  Daybreak was good for Lucy, and I think it really challenged her beliefs.  In a good way, of course, and she really does change for the better. She really felt like she belonged at Daybreak by the end of the book, and it’s clear she had a lot of admiration for what other people are going through, or have gone through.

I am so glad I read this book, and by the end of it, I was sobbing and hugging/clutching this book close to me.  I needed a couple minutes to get it out before I was able to actually put the book down and wipe away the tears.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and it’s another one I think everyone should read.

Book Review: Girl Made Of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Book: Girl Made Of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Published May 2018 by HMH Books For Young Readers|295 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

For readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

I absolutely LOVED this book.  It absolutely gutted me and I was a sobbing mess by the end of the book.  It is worth reading.  Please please please let this be one of the books you read this year.  It’s very much a look at rape culture, and please keep that in mind if you do pick up the book- or continue reading this review.

I felt so much for Mara, who doesn’t want to believe that her brother did, but she also wants to believe Hannah, especially since Hannah isn’t the type of person who would make it up.  The way people treated Hannah when she came back to school was horrifying but not surprising, and I’m not surprised that a lot of people seemed to believe it didn’t happen the way Hannah said it did.  And it’s horrifying that charges weren’t pressed, at least partially because Hannah and Owen were dating and because they had sex before.  I was so angry, but again, it wasn’t a surprise.

I loved Hannah’s relationship with Charlie, and they both have their flaws and things they’re dealing with, but they rely on each other to get through it.  I also loved seeing Mara’s relationship with Hannah, and how it changes throughout the book.

Girl Made Of Stars isn’t just about Hannah’s rape- it’s about the trauma Mara experienced when someone she trust took away that trust in a society that doesn’t believe women when they come forward about sexual assault.  Mara’s parents believing Owen didn’t do anything, meant that they would never believe Mara if she told them what happened to her.  You see so clearly how everyone feels and what they think and it’s messy and complicated and you see it so much throughout the book.

I loved everything about this book, as heart-wrenching as it was to read.  I know there is no way I can do this book justice, and I’m having the hardest time putting into words how amazing and powerful this book is.  I’m starting to cry just thinking about how I felt when I read this book, and that’s not something that happens often.

Just make sure this book is one of the ones you read this year.

5 stars.  I cannot think of a single negative thing about this book, and it’s one book I’m glad I picked up.

Book Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

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Book: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Published May 2018 by Speak|340 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible. 

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script. 

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story? 

Always Never Yours is a really cute book!  I liked it and if you’re looking for a cute romance, I think this would be a great book to read.

I really liked the concept behind the book- a girl who dates guys, only for them to find the love of their life after they break up with her.  It’s definitely different than what I’ve seen before, and it seems like she has a reputation as a flirt.  I certainly liked that she seemed to be okay with it, and didn’t feel any shame in it.

I thought it was interesting and different (in a good way) that Megan dreaded acting, and was only in the play to fulfill a requirement to get into her dream college.  I think I had assumed that if you’re in theater, you wanted to be an actor.  Which is stupid, because there’s a lot more to theater than acting.  There’s all of the behind-the-scenes stuff as well, and I kind of liked that she didn’t really have any interest in acting

Of course, it’s not a YA contemporary unless she learns something about herself, and over the course of the book, she does learn a lot about herself.  I can’t say I’m a fan of Megan’s best friend, but her friend does seem to realize she did something wrong, and did seem really sorry about what had happened.  I also liked her relationships with her family, and I can definitely understand why she felt the way she did.

I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare, and I think that might be why I didn’t love the book.  At least one reason, anyway. But I think it’s the main reason.  I did like it as a backdrop for Megan’s story, though.  And I didn’t get a Shakespeare re-told vibe from the book, but I think if you like Shakespeare, YA and romance, this book is for you!

3 stars.  It’s cute and fun, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it.

Book Review: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Book: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Published May 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|296 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Royals #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

I liked this one!  Her books are always fun and light-hearted, and Royals was no exception.  It reminded me of The Princess Diaries, but in an alternate universe Scotland, and the main character is the sister of the future princess of Scotland (by way of marriage).  I was also reminded (at least a little) of Princess Kate and Prince William (and Harry and Megan) and if you need more royal family in your life, this is an entertaining read.

So, I kind of expected Daisy to have a slightly different interaction with the tabloids.  I don’t know, the summary made it seem like the attention she was getting was a lot more attention then she really did.  I was kind of let own by with what actually led her to going over to Scotland.

In general, I feel like what happened in the book didn’t match up with what I thought would happen.  I thought there would be more rewriting the royal rulebook and going along for the ride with the prince’s younger brother.  Or getting dragged along, as the case may be.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still enjoyable, and it’s very much a Rachel Hawkins book.  I think I just had a different idea of what would could happen, and it didn’t match up with what actually happened.

So, this is definitely an alternate-reality Scotland where Scotland has a king and queen.  Which I just went with, but keep that in mind if you pick this up.  Also, there are mentions that the Scottish royal family paid for the medical bills for Miles’ mother.  I don’t know much about the healthcare system in Scotland, but that seemed a little off.  I’m not sure how much research went into the book, as far as life in Scotland goes, but based on some reviews I’ve read, it seems like Hawkins got some things wrong.  While I can’t speak to the accuracy of things like healthcare and tuition in Scotland, keep in mind that some things may not be accurate, if those things are important to you.

I liked Daisy well-enough, and I really liked her dad.  Miles was sweet, and I do like him and Daisy.  I didn’t really care for Daisy’s sister, but I felt like I understood her better by the end of the book.  I also thought Daisy’s story was pretty resolved in this book, so while it’s the first book in the series, Royals functions as a stand-alone pretty well.  And based off of what I’ve seen for the second book in this series, I get the sense that it’s a series where each book focuses on a character who was introduced in one of the other books.  Maybe I’m wrong about that (we’ll have to wait and see, I suppose) but hopefully, we’ll get more of Daisy’s story.  I do want to see what she’s up to.

3 stars.  I liked Royals, and it’s fun and entertaining.

Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Book: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Published May 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux Books|323 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

I really liked The Way You Make Me Feel!  I liked Clara, and she really changes a lot in this book.  Goo’s previous book was cute and fun and light-hearted, and this book was pretty similar in that sense.  It’s a completely different story, of course, but I really liked it, and I loved the relationships that she had with Rose, Hamlet and her dad.

It really is a heart-warming story, and I loved seeing Clara get really invested in her dad’s food truck.  She wasn’t happy about it at first, but it seems like she really does like it by the end of the book.  I think she learns a lot, especially after going to see her mom, and realizes that being around her dad, and doing better is something she needs to do.

All of the change we see in Clara felt really natural.  It didn’t feel forced at all, and it felt like it happened at a good pace.  Okay, maybe the friendship with Rose is a little bit forced, now that I think about it.  It is the typical enemies-to-friends story but I did like it, and it didn’t get in the way of me liking their friendship.  They do balance each other out.

Even though I finished this book pretty recently, I found the romance forgettable.  I mean, I like Hamlet, and I think he and Clara have a pretty good relationship, but I am finding that I’m not remembering them as a couple.  Maybe because they were friends for quite a while, or maybe other things were more memorable than them as a romantic couple.  I’m not really sure what it is about their romantic relationship but it’s clearly something that didn’t stand out.

And Clara and her dad!  It seems like he’s pretty lax as a dad, and obviously Clara gets into all kinds of trouble.  It is interesting that it took her prank at junior prom to get him to be more of a dad and less of a friend but I did really like their relationship.  It seems like Goo has a soft spot for father-daughter relationships, and it felt very real.  Clara seems really protective of her dad, and I know I’ve mentioned how invested she gets in his food truck, but I think it’s really sweet and really cool that she enters a contest in the hopes that he’ll win and be able to get his restaurant up and running.

I was sad to see what her relationship with her mom was like.  Her dad does try, but it would appear that her mom doesn’t really care about Clara.  I definitely got the impression her mom was more interested in maintaining a certain carefree lifestyle than she was in being a mother.  I know Clara’s parents were young when they had her, and it seemed like her mom tried for a while, but I honestly could have cared less about Clara’s mom.  Clara going out to see her, though, really seemed to get Clara to realize how important her dad was, and how she did have responsibilities at home.

4 stars.  I didn’t love The Way You Make Me Feel, but I still really liked it!  I thought it was fun and heart-warming, and I love the relationships Clara had with some of the characters.