Review: Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test

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“How did you change your life when you were trapped like this?
Her history didn’t define her. Her origins didn’t define her.
At least, they shouldn’t. She could be more, if she had a chance.”

Synopsis
Khai Diep is a total catch. He excels at his job, and is a devoted friend, brother, and son. Hence the reason why his mom can’t wait to marry him off. Khai, however, has a different view on love and marriage. Because Khai processes his emotions differently, he worries he can’t feel emotions like grief or love “correctly.” But his mom is tired of waiting, so she takes matters into her own hands. She returns from a visit to Vietnam with Esme Tran who she believes to be Khai’s perfect bride. Esme knows a trip to America could help herself and her family in more ways than one. But seducing Khai proves harder than she initially thought. As she starts to fall for Khai for real, she’s determined to show him that there are many different ways to love.


The Kiss Quotient is for fans of:

  • You enjoy the mail-order bride trope/arranged marriage trope
  • You love slow-burn romance
  • You appreciate books that have inclusive characters with diverse backgrounds
  • You want to read an OWN Voices author’s work

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
I want to start with what I loved. I love that Helen Hoang writes inclusive characters with diverse backgrounds. Kai is on the autism spectrum (ASD), and Esme is a Vietnamese citizen who travels to the United States. These characters have vastly different backgrounds, and I appreciated learning more about their perspectives and experiences. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it is to have more representation in books and especially in romance (my favorite genre). Knowing people can find themselves and see themselves in characters is so crucial.

Also, autism spectrum disorder has a special place in my heart. My family (and myself) are all huge advocates for autism spectrum disorder awareness in honor of my cousin, Tucker, who is amazing, intelligent, caring and also happens to be on the autism spectrum. He is the youngest child to be diagnosed in the state of West Virginia (where I’m originally from). If you want to learn more about autism spectrum disorder – I suggest starting here.

Another aspect I loved was Esme’s characterization. She is a strong, independent woman and you can’t help but root for her from the very beginning. She has such a genuine heart, and her motives are so pure as she only has the best interest for her family in mind.

I also enjoyed the slow-burn build up and the sexy scenes. I think it is very clear that the author is an extremely talented writer. Slow-burn is my absolute favorite, so it didn’t bother me that it took awhile before the characters’ romance started to build. I feel like for me this makes the romance more realistic. I feel like slow-burn happens much more often than insta-love in real life.

The last thing I want to talk about is the writing. This book is full of the most beautiful, eloquent writing. I could fill this entire post with quotes that I love from this book. I really just can’t stress the pure talent seen in The Bride Test.

What I didn’t like:
Now onto what I didn’t love. I did not love that Esme didn’t seem to take a huge interest in learning or asking questions about autism spectrum disorder. After learning that Kai was on the autism spectrum, she kind of just went “ok.” Even though she was sensitive to this and had great communication on what Kai’s comfort level was, I wish she would have explicitly inquired about it further. For me this just fell a little flat. I think this also would have been a great opportunity to educate readers even more about autism spectrum disorder through Esme’s learning experience.

However, my biggest issue with the story was the “secret,” and that it wasn’t revealed until the very, very end of the book. I’m talking like the last 5-10%. This was revealed too late for me. As a result, I felt like Kai and Esme were considering a commitment with one another without even knowing each other. The secret was such a huge part of Esme’s life, and I didn’t like that it played virtually no role in Kai and Esme’s relationship until the very, very end. Perhaps I would feel differently if the reveal came earlier or more came after the reveal. It just did not cut it for me.

As a result, the romance just fell flat. I didn’t feel like there was a particularly strong friendship foundation between the two. I didn’t feel like they really knew who each other were as people because there were so many secrets or things left unsaid between them for long periods of time. I don’t want to say more because this is spoiler-free!

Overall, I’m still so happy I read The Bride Test. It’s a cute new adult contemporary with some sexy scenes for sure. There is amazing representation and diversity here, and that’s definitely something to celebrate. I thought the characters were well written, and the writing was strong. The romance just lacked a bit for me, and that’s ultimately why it fell a bit flat. I’m giving this one a 3.5/5.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3/5
Steam: 3.5/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Friendship: 2.5/5
Representation: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.17/5


Get More Information:
The Bride Test is Helen Hoang’s newest release and is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient. It’s available to purchase now.

Links: visit Helen Hoang’s website; connect with the author on Facebook; connect with the author on Instagram; find The Bride Test on Amazon; find The Kiss Quotient on Amazon


About the Author: Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Elle Kennedy’s The Play

Hi Y’all! Happy October. Today I’m reviewing Elle Kennedy’s newest release, The Play. It is the third and final book in the Briar U series. To read more of my thoughts on the series, check out my author highlight on Elle Kennedy here. While The Play can be read as a standalone, it does follow a group of characters. I’d suggest starting with the first book, The Chase.

“Because I’ve done nothing but love that girl with all my heart.
And because I love her, I have faith in her.”

Synopsis and Content Warnings

Determined to solely focus on hockey after last season’s disastrous ending, team captain Hunter makes a celibacy vow. After last season, he’s through with distractions. Although, as soon as Hunter gets paired up with Demi for a yearlong project, he realizes this vow may be harder to keep than he thought. Demi is intelligent, driven, sarcastic, and right up Hunter’s alley. So when she makes a play for him, his resolve is tested in more ways than one.

CW: attempted suicide


The Play is for fans of:

  • sports romances, hockey in particular
  • characters who are college-aged/collegiate settings
  • romance with comedic elements

Review
What I liked:
I just love living in the universe that Elle Kennedy has created. The collegiate atmosphere, college campus, hockey teams, and cast of characters are what make this series (and this book) great. I love her writing style and think she has such a talent for creating unique character voices.

Hunter was one of my favorite characters to read about in her series. He felt like such a different take on an alpha-type hero. There weren’t silly miscommunication issues that drove the plot. He was honest and upfront about what he wanted and his intentions. It was so (!!) refreshing. The miscommunication-style plots usually have me yelling at the book in pure frustration. There was none of that here. Also, it’s worth noting that a celibate hero is certainly a divergence from the norm in romance.

What I didn’t like: (warning: very, very MINOR potential spoilers)
I normally wouldn’t categorize this as a spoiler because you find this out at the very beginning, but I know everyone has different definitions on what a spoiler is. Demi is in a relationship (not with the main hero) at the beginning of the book. This lasts until about the 40% mark. I did not like this. I just personally don’t enjoy OW/OM plot points in my romances. I know for some this is no big deal, but for me I kept wanting to rush through it so we could see more interactions between the couple. This always brings a romance down a bit for me. (Again, personal preference! You may not mind this at all.)

I also didn’t love that Demi peer pressured Hunter into breaking his celibacy vow. While Hunter did give his consent and the official ok, I still thought it was super lame that Demi basically continuously asked him after he said no and didn’t support him in this. He only wanted to wait a few months so I really didn’t understand the rush here. It just made it feel super juvenile.

Something that also bothered me is the tag line for this book, “She’s the Player He Didn’t See Coming.” It is inaccurate. Demi has only had one boyfriend in her life before she meets the hero and they had been dating for eight years. I truly don’t understand where the tagline came from, and I believe it’s very misleading. This really isn’t an issue with the book itself and it didn’t affect my rating. I just wanted to throw this out there just in case you read the tagline and get intrigued because it’s just not true.

I also included a content warning of attempted suicide. I didn’t love this plot point and it felt like it just missed the mark for me. It felt like it came out of left field and it was hard to connect to this character because they are barely mentioned and the interactions with them are so, so minimal. It felt more like a plot point for Demi to solidify her career options than to examine the effects of mental illness.

Overall, I still enjoyed the book. I think one of the reasons I felt more critical in my review is because I love Elle Kennedy and nearly all of her books are 4 or 5 stars for me. I have read eleven of her books, so I know I have high expectations when it comes to her writing. This is easily my least favorite Elle Kennedy book. However, I still love her writing and if you’d like to check out the other eleven books I love from her, check out my author highlight post. The Play gets a 3/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3/5
Steam: 3/5
Romance: 3/5
Friendship: 3.5/5

Goodreads: 4.16/5


Get More Information:
The Play is new adult contemporary, and it was published on October 7, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

links: Visit Elle Kennedy’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find The Chase on Amazon; find The Risk on Amazon; find The Play on Amazon


About Elle Kennedy:
A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

 

Review: Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient

TheSilentPatient

“Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.”

Synopsis
Alicia, a famously talented painter, lives an idyllic life with her husband, Gabriel — at least she does until she decides to brutally murder him. Yet, the circumstances surrounding the murder remain a mystery as Alicia refuses to speak since his death. Theo, a criminal psychotherapist, is determined to work with Alicia and unravel the truth about that night…word by word.


The Silent Patient is for fans of:

  • thrillers with an intense psychological component
  • slow-burn thrillers
  • books with epistolary elements

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked:
To say this book starts off with a bang would be an understatement. It captured my attention from the very first sentence (quoted above) and kept it throughout the novel. Personally, I enjoy when thriller novels hook me in and then slowly simmer (slow-burn style). I understand that for a big twist to pay off, a solid foundation needs to be built. I’m ok with waiting like here in The Silent Patient.

I also enjoyed the setting of “The Grove” which is a kind of mental care facility. I don’t read too many thrillers with this setting so it felt unique and gave the story a certain edge.

Additionally, I have to talk about the writing style here. I thought the author was very talented and clever. The writing is gripping and certainly page-turning. I finished this entire book in about a 48 hour period. The Silent Patient demands to be read.

I also really liked the epistolary elements. I wasn’t quite sure how we would really get to know Alicia (as she refuses to speak). The diary entries were interesting and provided a unique perspective on the contrast from Alicia back then vs. Alicia in the now.

What I didn’t like:
While I thought the ending was clever (and clearly a majority of people loved it/enjoyed it due to the mostly positive reviews and ratings) I figured it out just before the reveal. This is always a bit dissatisfying to me as a reader and especially as a lover of the genre. For it to fully make me go wow I need to still be guessing until the author reveals the twist to me.

It’s always a bit of a risk when a book depends on the reader not guessing the one twist for it to pay off. However, I will say there were certainly some elements I didn’t guess and I found them satisfying. For readers who dabble in thrillers, you’d likely really enjoy this one. I think this fell a bit short for me because I have so many other reads to compare it to (and let’s face it, I’m an unusually suspicious reader).

Overall, I would still recommend this one. It’s a quick read and still felt satisfying in the end. I just wouldn’t call this one my favorite. 3.5/5 stars from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3.5/5
Suspense: 3/5
Character Development: 4/5
Ending: 3.5/5

Goodreads: 4.05/5


Get More Information:
The Silent Patient is a thriller, and it was published on February 5, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.

Links: connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter


About the Author: [written in author’s pov] Born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother, I studied English literature at Cambridge University and got my MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. I wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is my first novel.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Alex’s North’s The Whisper Man

TheWhisperMan

I’ve told you many times that there’s

no such thing as monsters. I’m sorry that I lied.”

Synopsis
After his wife’s death, Tom and his young son, Jake, move to Featherbank for a new beginning. Yet their new beginning morphs into something darker, more sinister, and frankly something unnerving. Jake begins to hear voices — whispers — and it appears The Whisper Man, a notorious serial killer, has returned to Featherbank once more.


The Whisper Man is for fans of:

  • complex family dynamics, specifically father/son relationships
  • thrillers intertwined with (fictional) local folklore
  • books with multiple point-of-views

Spoiler Free Review
What I Liked:
I loved the father/son dynamics in the novel. Each relationship was so complex and interesting. I loved how the author drew parallels and distinctions between each pair. At its heart, I think this novel is about complicated, intense, and emotional relationships.

Jake and Tom’s relationship was my favorite because of its realistic portrayal. It might not have been easy between them, but they tried because they loved one another. I enjoyed that the author portrayed Tom as a strong parental figure, but a flawed one. He often wondered if he was making the right choices or doing what was best for his son. These are fears parents have, and I loved the realistic portrayal.

I also loved the folklore aspect of the book. It felt haunting, and it felt unique to their small town. It truly felt like a disturbing tale that could be passed down in a small town. The imagery in the book was certainly enough to keep me up at night and double checking that my doors were indeed locked.

Additionally, I enjoyed the police/procedural aspect of the novel. I love feeling like I’m in on the investigation and picking up clues alongside law enforcement. In general, it makes the hunt for the killer(s) more realistic for me. I thought the author did a great job of showing this side of the story.

What I Didn’t Like:
The ending. I’m sorry! I truly think this is a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. I only bought this book because I saw it was super hyped up on bookstagram and it had high reviews online. I am always on the hunt for my next thriller and this one seemed perfect. I think I went in expecting it to be traditionally twisty with a larger focus on the “horror.” This was not the case.

I found the ending predictable, but I don’t think it was meant to be particularly twisty. I kept waiting for the next twist and turn and had a running list of theories in my head. None turned out to be correct even though I thought it would have been cool if they were (they were particularly dark/twisty theories). I think I just thought this book was going to be something it wasn’t, instead of just enjoying it for what it was – a haunting take on local folklore with an emphasis on complex family dynamics.

Overall, I really did enjoy The Whisper Man and certainly recommend it if you’re in the market for a unnerving read this fall season. It gets a 3.5/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3/5
Suspense: 4/5
Character Development: 5/5
Ending: 2/5

Goodreads: 4.21/5


Get More Information:
The Whisper Man is a thriller, and it was published on August 20, 2019. It’s available to purchase here.


About the Author: Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: R.S. Grey’s Coldhearted Boss

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Ok y’all. I gotta be honest – I have sat with my feelings about this book for a while. I was somewhat conflicted, because I love R.S. Grey so much. But I owe it to myself (and all of y’all) to give you my honest thoughts. So here we go!

Synopsis
Taylor’s life has not gone according to plan. That’s how she finds herself considering stealing the wallet of the rich, totally hot guy that she meets at the bar. She’s buckling under the pressure of supporting her family and providing her sister the life that she never had.

So when Lockwood Construction breaks ground in their tiny town, the construction jobs they’re offering are literately too good to be true. Dressed up, pretending to be a burly construction worker – she isn’t fooling anyone. She especially isn’t fooling her boss, who turns out to be that rich, totally hot guy at the bar from before.

Tension builds. Hatred intensifies. And if it’s one thing her boss, Ethan Stone, knows, it’s that revenge is best served cold.

Review
As always, I want to start with what I loved. Taylor’s characterization was my favorite. I grew up in a very similar situation to Taylor, and my heart just went out to her. I loved how determined and driven she was. If you want a strong willed, fierce heroine – look no further than Taylor. Her character was the strongest part of this book for me. Taylor definitely makes the exclusive list of my top heroines from R.S. Grey.

I also gotta give Coldhearted Boss it’s props because this one really delivers on enemies-to-lovers and slow-burn romance. I mean this is ~SLOW~ burn (think Mariana Zapata slow-burn.) The banter was great for enemies-to-lovers, and the tension between Taylor and Ethan was amazing.

I love the forced-to-live-together trope. Forcing characters into a small space turns the tension and the heat up. These two weren’t backing down from the tension – they were leaning into it. When they finally got together…it was magic! The epilogue literately filled up my heart. From the moment they finally got together until the end, my heart was swooning.

The only downfall for me is that they were enemies for far too long. I felt like I was at the 80% mark, and they were still enemies! I wanted to see more of them emotionally connecting/learning more about each other. I loved the last 10% of the book and wish there was more to read after they got together. After I hit the 60-70% mark, I was getting impatient. Our leads still hadn’t gotten vulnerable with each other. There was still no crack in the hate/enemies facade. I live for the thawing portion of the enemies-to-lovers trope. I love seeing their hatred break down and slowly turn into love. I loved the enemies portion, but part of the fun of enemies-to-lovers is the lovers part. I needed a better balance.

Also, I wish we could have seen Taylor having some of the conversations with Ethan about her family. (I think I remember Taylor saying she told Ethan about her mom/Lonnie but it was a recap of their conversation.) We never got to see Ethan first meet her family or actually see where she came from. Some of this did happen, but it was off-screen. I just truly live for the emotional/vulnerable moments in romance, and didn’t find that as much here in Coldhearted Boss.

Overall, I enjoyed Coldhearted Boss. I went back and forth between a 3/4 star rating, and finally decided on 3 stars. If there was more time spent on the romance, this would easily be a 4/5 star read.

Regardless, RS Grey continues to deliver amazing romcoms, and she will forever be a one-click author for me. The classic RS Grey wit and heart is here. This very well may be a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. This isn’t my favorite from RS Grey, but I’m definitely happy I read it and still recommend it. If you want to read about my top favorite RS Grey books, click here. I also have a review on RS Grey’s Make Me Bad, which was a 5 star read from me this year.

Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.27
My Overall Rating: 3/5
Steam: 5/5
Romance: 3/5
Friendship: 3/5

Get More Info: visit R.S. Grey’s website; sign up for the author’s newsletter; connect with the author’s Facebook group; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Coldhearted Boss on Amazon

Coldhearted Boss is RS Grey’s newest romantic comedy. It published on June 6, 2019, and is available for free on Kindle Unlimited as of 6/9/2019.

About the Author: Daytime pajama-wearer, USA TODAY bestselling author, & comedy lover in Texas.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Lynn Weingarten’s Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls

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When I found Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls on Book Depository, I immediately added it to my cart. I had seen this book floating around Goodreads and Bookstagram before, so I was excited to add this to my backlist books this year.

TW: mentions of suicide, drug use, abortion, sexual assault, and rape

Synopsis
June’s best friend is dead. The official report says that Delia committed suicide by burning herself to death in her stepfather’s shed. June and Delia used to be best friends – the kind that did everything together and knew everything about one another. The two were inseparable, until they weren’t. This is why June doesn’t believe Delia committed suicide. She believes Delia was murdered. Now all she needs to do is prove it.

Spoiler Free Review
I’m going to be upfront and say that I gave this book a 2/5. I honestly did not really enjoy it. With that being said, there was still some things that I did like about Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls. For starters, I love the title. It’s very catchy, and it immediately drew my attention. I also loved the book cover. Honestly, everything about the outward appearance made me so excited to begin reading.

I also enjoyed the first chapter or two of the book. The premise drew me in, and it seemed like everyone could have been guilty right off the bat. Plus, I was quickly turning the pages to see the reason behind June and Delia’s falling out. All of this was great. The book had a strong start, but then it lost me.

My first (small) issue is with June’s narration. There is something about reading through her POV that is so troubling. Her voice sounds dead and detached (and not in a good way). Further, she sounds like this before she realizes her best friend is dead. From the very beginning she just sounds alone, detached, and lifeless. It did not seem purposeful and just felt off putting.

My largest issue with this book is the plot itself. Honestly, it felt all over the place. The plot goes from cheating to suicide to murder to rape to sexual abuse to abortion to drug use and it just keeps going. There were a lot of twists and turns, but not in a good way. It more so felt like the author was just throwing elements in there for the sake of having them.

By the time I got to the end of the book, I still had no idea what was going on, really. There were so many questions left unanswered. So many issues left unresolved. Then, naturally, the ending is open-ended; it allows the reader the ability to interpret the ending. I did not like this. When I’m reading a thriller, especially a whodunit, I want to know whodunit. I don’t want to read an entire thriller and still be just as confused on the last page as I was on the first. You have no idea if any of Delia’s reasons/explanations were true or not. I also still didn’t understand the depth of the relationship between June and Delia. It seemed at times June was willing to go to the ends of the earth for Delia, and there was a depth of desperation there. Yet, just a while before, June was completely fine with not being friends anymore, content to live her life with her boyfriend. It just didn’t make sense.

Overall, I give this a 2/5. It was not the thriller for me, and I don’t recommend it.

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Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 3.46/5
My Overall Rating: 2/5
Suspense: 3/5
Ending: 1/5
Characterization: 1/5

Get More Info: visit Lynn Weingarten; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls on Amazon

Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls is young adult thriller, and it published on July 7, 2015. It is available to purchase here.

About the Author: Lynn Weingarten is a New York Times bestselling author and Creative Director living in Brooklyn. In the past, Lynn has been an editor at Alloy Entertainment and Working Partners, where she developed ideas for books (and edited them). She is currently Creative Director of Dovetail Fiction, a new YA packager and sister business to  Working Partners. She lives in Brooklyn.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera’s What If It’s Us

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Ok so I’ve been sitting on this review for a little while. I felt so conflicted upon finishing the book that I didn’t trust myself to write a honest review right off the bat. There was a lot that I liked here, but honestly there was a lot that I didn’t. I know the internet seemed to be really championing this book, as the authors are loved and the book features very inclusive characters, but unfortunately it didn’t really work for me.

Synopsis
Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office in New York, where Arthur is working for the summer. Arthur feels its a sign from the universe – he’s ready for his first big shot at romance. Ben doesn’t buy into the whole “the universe works in mysterious ways” – he thinks the way the universe works sucks. After all, the sucky universe is one of the reasons he is at the post office in the first place – to mail back his ex-boyfriend’s things. Arthur is determined to find the mysterious boy from their meet-cute, because he can’t help but thinking what if?

Will I like this?
You might enjoy this book if…

  • You enjoy YA romance that is sweet with little to no steam
  • You love books with inclusive characters of diverse backgrounds
  • You enjoy having your romance rooted in realism

You might not enjoy this book if…

  • You prefer a romance that is more new adult/adult
  • You prefer more mature characters
  • You prefer endings with a firm resolution

Spoiler Free Review
I want to start with what I liked. I loved the representation and inclusion in this book. This is a romance between Arthur, a Jewish boy who has ADHD and Ben whose Puerto Rican. It’s so important to write romance stories for everyone, and I love this book for its inclusivity. Also, it’s obviously a M/M romance, which is awesome! For this reason alone I wanted to absolutely love this book, but unfortunately,  it just missed the mark in other ways for me.

I also loved how this book wasn’t afraid to tackle big issues. We’re talking everything from homophobia to anxiety to privilege. This book also features a host of secondary characters with diverse experiences and backgrounds. Truly, this book’s diversity is its strongest aspect in my opinion.

I also enjoyed the fact that this book was just plain ol’ realistic. The romance between Ben and Arthur felt real. There was no fairy tale aspect. There were times when things felt awkward between them or when things just did not work out the way they wanted them to. I appreciated this. I even loved the realistic relationship mirroring between Ben & Arthur and the relationship we saw in Arthur’s parents. While there were some points that I felt the parent’s relationship was a bit toxic, they also showed that a loving relationship isn’t always perfect.

Onto what I didn’t love. I hated all the pop culture references, I’m just going to say it. While I appreciate a few Harry Potter references (because, c’mon, I love HP), this book seriously went overboard. There were so many. So, so many. They were in every chapter and even became plot points in the book. (Honestly, I found this to be an issue in other Becky Albertalli books that I’ve read.) This makes the book feel so immature and young to me. While I appreciate that this is YA, the references just brought it down a level. Also, I feel like this dates the book. When people are reading this ten years from now, all the references can be isolating to a reader who wasn’t there to appreciate them. I’m down for a few, but this book overdid it.

Lastly, while I loved that the book was realistic, the romance honestly still felt forced and a bit off to me. It didn’t feel like a natural progression and it felt like both characters were trying to force their relationship to work because of all they went through to find each other again. It felt like a bit of “well after all that, we have to make this work!” Everyone was cheering them on and a fan of their relationship, so it felt like they were trying to hard to make it work because they felt like they should. I really wasn’t buying into it. As a book where the romance is such a huge focus, this is where it really brought it down for me. I think the book could still keep its realism, while injecting a bit more romance/friendship between the two. Sometimes  felt like they were making it so awkward for the sake of being like “this is real romance! sometimes its awkward!” that they went overboard and lost the heart of the romance.

Overall, I give this a 3/5. I enjoyed reading the book, but there were minor issues that kept me from really liking it or even loving it.

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Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.0
My Overall Rating: 3/5
Steam: 0/5
Romance: 2.5/5
Friendship: 4/5

Get More Info: visit Becky Albertalli’s website; visit Adam Silvera’s website; find What if It’s Us on Amazon.

What if It’s Us is a young adult contemporary collaboration between Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. Becky Albertalli is author of the wildly popular Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Adam Silvera is author of the deeply emotional book They Both Die at the End. What if It’s Us released on October 9, 2018. It’s available to purchase now.

About the Authors: Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, D.C. She now lives with her family outside of Atlanta. She is an American author of young adult fiction, best known for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which was adapted into the 2018 film Love, Simon.

Adam Silvera is the New York Times bestselling author of They Both Die at the EndMore Happy Than NotHistory Is All You Left Me, and What If It’s Us with Becky Albertalli. All his novels have received multiple starred reviews. He worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, community manager at a content development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He was born and raised in New York. He lives in Los Angeles and is tall for no reason.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.