eARC Review – Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Title: Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Author: Amelia Diane Coombs

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: July 14th, 2020

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sparks fly when two ex-best-friends team up to save a family business in this swoon-worthy and witty debut perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen.

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.

And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.

So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting irrational—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back over…in ways that go beyond friendship.

If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.

Review

**Thank you to Simon Pulse, Netgalley, and Amelia Diane Coombs for an early book copy in exchange for an honest review**

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson loves San Francisco – she would do anything to stay living there. When her father’s bowling alley, Bigmouth Bowl, starts to go under, Chuck thinks she can help out. Her ex-best friend, turned new best friend, Beckett suggests they participate in illegal bowling gambling by hustling bowlers under the table at lanes across San Fran. While she’s bowling her heart out to stay, she’s giving her heart away to someone who broke her trust a long time ago. Will she be able to save her family’s bowling alley?

A main focus of this book is Chuck’s struggles with her mental health, and the potential of turning out like her mom – who killed herself when Chuck was young. Her mother had bipolar disorder, and Chuck has already experience several depressive episodes. Every decision she makes, she wonders if it’s a decision that should be made or one she made impulsively – which would denote the manic side of bipolar. Due to the afterword, the reader knows this is an Own Voices novel, and I cannot speak on the mental health portrayal in this book as it’s likely very personal for the author.

The other main plots are the bowling and the romance. As someone who has been bowling for over 20 years, I have to say that there are several bowling inaccuracies in this manuscript, which could potentially be cleaned up in edits or with further research. However, the romance felt very flat and unconvincing to me. I’m all for friends to lovers and hate to love tropes but Beckett as a character was very one dimensional and I didn’t buy the romance. The date scene was good and unique, but it all fell flat for me.

Overall KMHISF was a decent Young Adult rom com with the unique twist of bowling. It wasn’t my favorite, but I guarantee there are many people who will read it and love it.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – What I Like About You

Title: What I Like About You

Author: Marisa Kanter

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication date: April 7th, 2020

416 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Marisa Kanter for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

What I Like About You is an extraordinary YA rom com that all reviewers and bookstagrammers should read. Halle has worked very diligently over the last several years to grow her blog and instagram following where she reviews YA books and pairs them with cupcakes. She created the perfect pseudonym in order to separate herself from her publishing famous grandmother. She wants to earn her followers and acclaim based on her brand and talent, not her grandmother’s influence. She has created her persona, made a bunch of online friends, and is on her way to reaching her goals. But when she moves to a new high school and meets her best online friend, Nash, in person, she can’t bear to tell him who she really is. How will he react to knowing Kels isn’t real?

This is a trope I’ve read often in Young Adult Contemporary novels and I will never tire of it. It never goes well, but I will always be here for reading the fall out. What makes this even better? Halle reads just as much in the genre and knows she is living a book trope but thinks her situation is different! It’s frankly so meta and I adore it. I will never not pick up a book with this trope.

I adore everything about this book and I shout it from the rooftops if necessary so everyone will read it. The characters are fantastic, even the side characters. I love the friendship Halle has with her younger brother Ollie, I think it’s a type of sibling relationship you don’t often see, especially with opposite sexes. He is supportive and they like each other’s hobbies out of respect for each other and a desire to spend time together and it is amazing. I also just love that the author based a book off this community that I love so much.

Read this book. It is wonderfully written and wildly interesting and seriously cute.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Scythe

Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication date: November 22nd, 2016

435 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review

Without the threat of suffering, we can’t experience true joy.

Neal shusterman, scythe

My boyfriend bought me this book on a whim and it sat on my TBR cart for months until he picked it up, shoved it in my face, and told me to read it because he bought it for me. I’M SO GLAD HE DID. I loved Scythe and the take on this utopian/dystopian future world. This is my first Neal Shusterman book, but I also have his Unwind series on my TBR so this has me putting his other works higher on my list!

In the futuristic world of Scythe, there is no war, disease, or dying really. Unless you are chosen by a Scythe for gleaning, the only method of population control as all of the world’s problems are basically solved. Scythe’s are responsible for gleaning humans in order to keep a sustainable amount of people on Earth, and this is determined by the Thunderhead – the big computer that runs the world. In Scythe, you follow Citra and Rowan, two youngsters who are chosen to apprentice in Scythe craft. Through their stories, you see that the world is not as perfect as it seems, and corruption is still rampant in the Scythedom. Citra and Rowan must decide which paths to take and determine right from wrong, something that’s super easy for teenagers… right?

I find it hard to put into words how amazing this reading experience was for me. It evoked such complex emotions and makes you think about how the world would be if this was our reality. It brings up a discussion on death and murder – what is acceptable and what is not. Citra and Rowan as characters are such a healthy combination of unredeemable and morally sound – you’ll just have to trust me! On top of this, you get action, a long-distance chase scene, and some serious violence. This is definitely not a fluffy book that will be an easy read.

I really can’t find any criticisms to give this book. I set it down and could only say wow to my boyfriend when he asked how it was. I was hooked from the beginning and Scythe never let go. The writing is sharp and detailed without being flowery or overly done. The characters have back story and a fantastic arc and development. Even the background characters make themselves known and jump off the page, all for eclectic reasons.

If you love science fiction, futuristic, and books that make you think and question the world around you – pick up Scythe immediately. Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂