Review: See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon

See You YesterdaySee You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Barrett Bloom has really been looking forward to college. Her last year in high school was rough after an expose she wrote for their newspaper exposed a scandal involving the very popular tennis team.

Needless to say, her peers were not kind in the aftermath. Barrett is craving a fresh start and a new opportunity for journalism at the college paper.

Unfortunately, September 21st, Barrett’s first official day of college is an absolute disaster.

First, she gets an unexpected roommate who just so happens to be her high school nemesis. Then she gets embarrassed by another student, some cute jerk, in her Physics 101 class.

Next, she flops her interview for the newspaper. If she thought things couldn’t get worse however, she was wrong as that evening she sets fire to a fraternity house.

Finally, topping the day off, her roommate locks her out of her dorm room forcing Barrett to sleep on a couch in the dorm common room.

Barrett is horrified, mortified and mystified. This was not how she envisioned her first day going.

She still hasn’t chalked it up as a complete loss. There’s a lot of the school year left.

She can turn this thing around, right? She can. It’s fine.

The next morning, Barrett is surprised when she wakes up in her bed and gets introduced to her new, ex-high school nemesis roommate…again!!

What the heck is going on here?! Checking the date, Barrett is floored. It is September 21st; the most horrible day she just lived through mere hours ago.

The stream of events from the day prior are happening just as she knows they will. This time though, after her confrontation with the jerk from Physics 101, Barrett finds out he has been stuck in a time loop as well.

For months.

She’s scared, I mean obviously this would be terrifying, but Barrett is comforted a bit by the fact she now has someone she can talk to about it.

Even if it’s Miles. Frankly, he can be infuriating. Over time though, as the two work together to try to solve their predicament, they begin to soften towards one another.

Y’all. Y’all, y’all, y’all. Rachel Lynn Solomon is a gift to the world. This one seals the deal.

How the heck is she doing this?! She’s cranking out book after book, like it’s nothing and they’re all unique, heart-warming, thought-provoking, funny, relatable and swoon-worthy. I am in absolute awe.

See You Yesterday was completely engaging from the very start. Barrett is such a likable character. She’s been through some things and she not shy about working through them with the Reader.

I liked how relatable she was. I think a lot of us have probably been through similar things and taken similar blows to the ego that Barrett has. It helped me to connect with her and ultimately to become fully invested in her journey.

Additionally, Miles was such a fantastic love interest. He was smart, funny and quite interesting. He also wasn’t scared to be vulnerable around Barrett. I’ll admit to swooning over him a bit.

Their banter back in forth gave me life while I was reading this. I loved them as a pair. The perfect mix or personality characteristics. It was super sweet.

The nerdy time loop vibes were such a welcome change of pace for a YA Romantic Comedy. I need more of this.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is an absolute go-to author for me. She can do no wrong in my eyes. If you haven’t read any of her work yet, this would be a great place to start. I feel like it’s a perfect example of her style.

Thank you to the publisher, Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I absolutely adored this and cannot wait for more from RLS!!

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Review: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

I Kissed Shara WheelerI Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

After being unexpectedly kissed by her only rival for valedictorian, Alabama High School Senior, Chloe Green’s life begins to unravel.

Shara Wheeler, the kissing bandit, then disappears, leaving nothing but a series of cryptic clues in her wake.

Chloe isn’t the only student being dragged along on this unconventional scavenger hunt. She’s also not the only person Shara Wheeler kissed.

Joining Chloe on this misadventure are Shara’s long-time boyfriend, hunky football player, Smith, as well as Shara’s bad boy neighbor, Rory, who has been crushing on the girl next door for years.

After the trio discovers the game includes them all, they put whatever petty grudges they may hold aside and begin to work together.

It’s a wild ride. Shara must have been planning this for months. It’s intricate and over-the-top.

Chloe becomes so obsessed with getting to the truth that she ends up neglecting her other relationships; her best friends that have been there for her all throughout high school. Will Chloe be able to mend those fences by graduation?

This novel is Casey McQuiston’s first foray into the YA space. Obviously, not a challenge for her; absolutely seamless. She kept her signature, lovable, heart-warming, sweet, sentimental, funny style all whilst keeping it relatable and applicable to a younger audience.

As for me, I’m all for snarky, funny, chaotic self-discovery, so I Kissed Shara Wheeler was a great fit for my tastes!!

I loved getting to know all of these characters. They were each well developed and had their own challenges that they were working through. Throughout it all, watching their interactions unfold was a lot of fun.

Chloe grows and learns so much about herself just through the process of trying to figure out Shara’s game. Chloe starts to recognize some blind spots she may have had over the course of her high school tenure.

Overall, this was a delightful read. It’s fun, smart and explores some important topics. It’s clear McQuiston delivers no matter what age group she is writing for.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me copies to read and review. I am already highly anticipating whatever McQuiston comes up with next!!

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Review: This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

This May End BadlyThis May End Badly by Samantha Markum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Weston School for girls has been engaged in an epic prank battle with the boys across the street at Winfield Academy for a century. This battle is on-going, with literally generations of girls and boys taking part.

Now that Doe is in her Senior year at Weston, she’s determine to win the battle once and for all. She’s a prank master and determined doesn’t even begin to describe Doe.

When the Weston headmistress makes an announcement that Weston and Winfield will be merging the following year, their campus descends into chaos. Chief among the dissenters, Miss Doe.

Doe is horrified. Weston and Winfield merging! She cannot possibly let that happen. Together with her best girlfriends, they vow to do whatever it takes to stop the merger.

One of Doe’s targets is Three, the kingpin of Winfield Academy. Smart, wealthy, good-looking and popular, Three is the kind of boy that has the world in the palm of his hand.

Doe just wants to knock him down a notch or two. She ends up making a deal with Three’s cousin, Wells, to fake date, thus getting under Three’s skin and throwing him off his game. With Three out of sorts, Doe should easily be able to outsmart the Winfield boys.

As the pranks begin to escalate, so does Doe’s so-called fake relationship with Wells. Will Doe lose sight of her goals, give them up entirely for a cute boy, or achieve everything she’s ever wanted?

The May End Badly is such a fun and cute YA Contemporary. Wells is one of the most swoon-worthy boys I’ve come across in a long time and don’t even get me started on how great this fake dating set-up was!

At first, I’ll admit, I was a little confused by the passion Doe had for the prank battle, but the more I got to know about her as a character, the more it started to make sense.

Doe came to Weston after going through a very difficult time in her life. Her parents had recently divorced and Doe had been having some behavioral issues at her old school. Weston became a safe haven for her. A place where she could feel safe and grow.

She wants to be sure Weston can remain that safe space for girls into the future. However, has Doe let her own experience blind her to that of others?

There are some really great friendships in this story. Doe’s friend group is very close, but still not afraid to call one another out on bad behavior. Wells also has a strong and interesting friend group, so it was nice to see that with both the boys and the girls.

I loved watching Doe and Wells relationship grow. There were moments when I absolutely wanted to shake her, but I was definitely on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen between them.

Additionally, I loved the humor in this novel. There is some great, witty banter, including moments that had me in stitches. I even loved the parents. They were funny and helpful, which was so nice to see.

My only slight criticism of this novel would be that there was an issue going on at the school, with a teacher possibly being inappropriate with students.

Nothing about that storyline felt natural to me in the context of the rest of what was going on. This is obviously just my opinion, but it felt very forced.

It felt like there needed to be some tension at school, a villain, and this character was it. Oh and along the way we can stuff in some heavy social commentary.

It felt completely out of place with the rest of the story. I don’t know. I feel like I could have enjoyed this even more without that in there. It just felt disjointed to me.

Phew, that was uncomfortable to say, but overall, yesssss, I had so much fun with this one. I became so attached to Doe and completely head over heels in love with Wells.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m looking forward to reading more from Samantha Markum in the future!

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Review: When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

When You Get the ChanceWhen You Get the Chance by Emma Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

High school student, Millie Price, dreams of becoming a Broadway star.

She lives in New York City with her slightly-dweeby, single-dad and fun-loving, Aunt Heather, but she has her sights set on a competitive precollege program that will take her out of state next year.

Her Dad isn’t happy when he finds out about Millie’s plan. He doesn’t understand why she can’t finish up school at home. She’s steps from Broadway, why would she need to travel across the country to help her future career prospects?

It’s clear to Millie that he just doesn’t get it and probably never will. ((Our Millie is nothing if not dramatic.))

What Millie needs is an ally to sell this precollege program to her Dad, but where to find one?

Although she knows next to nothing about her birth mother, an untouchable topic in their household, Millie does know that her Mom was a huge fan of musical theater.

Perhaps if Millie can find her, she can recruit her onto Team ‘Let Millie Go To Precollege’, thus swaying her Dad.

Going off clues found within her Dad’s embarrassingly honest LiveJournal from 2003, Millie and her best friend, Teddy, begin the hunt in earnest.

They narrow their candidates down to three women living within New York City. All Millie needs to do is get close to them and insert herself into their lives, until she can figure out which one is her Mom.

When You Get the Chance swept me off my feet from the very start. It’s a beautifully engaging love letter to musical theater, featuring one of my favorite YA Contemporary protagonists of all time.

I absolutely adored Millie. Her moods, dreams and insecurities all felt incredibly real to me. I’m basically her Aunt Heather now. I love her so darn much.

Emma Lord does a fantastic job of mixing cutesy-YA Romance, with quite serious family issues. This seems to be a trend in her work that I really appreciate.

Millie has a lot of questions surrounding her Mom that unfortunately, she doesn’t feel comfortable asking anyone. She can tell by her Dad’s reaction anytime her Mom does get brought up, that he doesn’t want to talk about.

This leaves poor Millie to struggle on her own with a lot of unanswered questions. While her Dad is super loving and supportive of her, there’s just a lot left unsaid.

I loved how this wildly fun and hilariously witty story was wrapped around this serious, dramatic core.

It’s fun, sweet and fast-paced, while also having true substance that should resonate well with a lot of Readers.

If you pick this one up, and I definitely recommend that you do, please take the time to read the Acknowledgements at the end. I think it gives great insight into Lord as a writer and her inspiration for this story.

At this point, I will pick up anything Emma Lord writes. I love her brand. I’m sold!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I look forward to adding a hard copy to my growing Emma Lord collection. Her writing absolutely fills my heart with joy and I just can’t get enough of it!

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Review: If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

If This Gets OutIf This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

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Ruben, Zach, Angel and Jon are all members of the American boy band, Saturday.

This fabulous foursome is currently riding sky-high on the wings of their world-wide popularity, but their lives are not as carefree as they first appear.

The boys are fiercely controlled by their management company, pigeon-holing them into preordained personas that they are heavily pushed not to stray from.

Particularly struggling with this is Ruben, who is gay. He has been asking management to let him come out to their fans, but he is continually told that it isn’t the right time.

Ruben feels stifled, like he is unable to be his true self in any public way. This fact is beginning to weigh heavily on him.

On a European tour, Ruben and Zach begin to grow closer as Ruben confides to Zach how he has been feeling. Zach, for his part, discovers he is having feelings for Ruben that he has never experienced before; at least not that he has admitted to himself.

As their friendship evolves into romance, they decide that they want to be able to live openly, not just with their friends and family, but with everyone; particularly with their fans.

It becomes clear this will never be acceptable to their management. What are they to do? They can’t let down their best friends, Jon and Angel, sacrifices need to be made to be in a group, but how much is too much?

I really enjoyed my time reading If This Gets Out. I became so attached to these characters. The boys were all well-fleshed out and lovable in their own unique ways.

While this story is sticky sweet, it also explores a lot of challenging topics. I thought the authors beautifully blended the light-hearted aspects with the serious. It really is a well-rounded Contemporary.

I love stories featuring music, or musicians, so I had a feeling this one would work for me, but I was truly impressed with how deeply I came to care for these guys.

I will say, it did feel a little long to me, but in the end, that is a minor complaint compared to all the goodness I received within these pages.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I think this is a top-notch story and look forward to reading more from both of these authors. Also, if they could work together again, that would be so fantastic. Clearly, a great partnership!!!

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Review: Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

Let Me Hear a RhymeLet Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After Quadir and Jarrell’s best friend, Steph, is killed, the boys are in shock. Steph was the best of them, a real good guy, who was also super-talented. Why did it happen?

But as the boys know, violence doesn’t often make sense and talent certainly doesn’t protect you. The year is 1998 and in their Brooklyn neighborhood, the murders of Biggie Smalls and Tupac are still fresh in everyone’s minds.

After Steph’s funeral, family and friends gather at Steph’s Mom’s place to show their respects and remember him. Getting away from the crowd, Quadi and Jarrell head up to Steph’s room, a sanctuary to which they have never gained access to before.

Inside they find his little sister, Jasmine, also seeking solace from the crowd. Additionally, they find the room plastered with images and memorabilia of his favorite musical artists. The boys knew Steph was real into his music, but they didn’t understand the passion went this far.

While innocently poking about Steph’s room the trio discovers he had been in a studio recording. Now they have tracks they need to share with the world. They won’t let Steph’s legacy die with him. He should be remembered for his greatness.

It becomes their mission. Steph, who they dub, The Architect, will take the scene by storm, they just know it, but how the heck they gonna pull it off?

Pick it up to find out! Things get a little crazy, but this group of teens definitely have their hearts in the right place. Will it be enough? And can’t they end up in trouble for this?

Seriously, pick it up!!!

Tiffany D. Jackson can do no wrong in my eyes. This was a superbly-crafted story. She drew me in from the very start.

Her characters always have depth. It is one of my favorite aspects of her writing. It is easy to become attached to them; to the point where you are willing to fight for them, cheer them on, cry with them and celebrate their victories.

I highly recommend the audiobook as a way to take in this story. I just feel like the voice work by all three narrators amplified and energized this narrative. It was so addictive to listen to!

While this story does tackle some heavy topics, obviously as it revolves around the murder of a teen boy, it was still a fun story. Quadi, Jarrell and Jasmine have to get creative in order promote Steph’s music; it was a trip.

I will pick up anything Jackson writes. This was such a powerful story; I loved the setting of the 90s and the incorporation of the music.

It was fantastic. Jackson never fails! How’s it even possible?! I’m super excited to read more from her! I still have Grown and White Smoke to look forward to; definitely picking both of them up soon.

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Review: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like ThisWe Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You’ve swept me off my feet again, Rachel Lynn Solomon. I see you and it’s like you see me too.

Quinn Berkowitz is the harpist for her parent’s wedding planning business.

Tarek Monsour is a cater-waiter, and aspiring baker, whose family’s catering business is frequently hired on by the Berkowitzs for events.

Over the years, the two have worked a lot of weddings together.

Somewhere along the way, Quinn became a skeptic of the whole love thing, while Tarek went completely in the other direction. He’s now over-the-top romantic; full of positivity with regards to love.

Last summer, Quinn became fed up with watching Tarek’s grand gestures to other girls. Perhaps she had secretly grown to like him more than she admitted.

When she called him out on it though, her ire seemed to ruin everything. He left for college and they didn’t talk for a year.

As summer returns, so too does Tarek, home from college and again working with his parents.

The first wedding Quinn sees him at is uncomfortable as heck, but this is a romantic comedy, so y’all know what’s coming.

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is exactly as adorable as it sounds. Solomon always knows how to bring the cute, as well as relatable substance.

This book is full of incredible OCD rep, sex positivity and exploration of other issues a lot of young adults go through; like, what the heck do I want to do with the rest of my life?

Solomon is always able to handle serious topics well and seamlessly incorporates them into otherwise light-hearted narratives.

This is the YA Summer Romance that should be on everyone’s reading list. I highly, highly recommend it!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is an autobuy author for me and I can’t wait to see what cutesy-creation she dreams up next!!!

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Review: A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water #2) by Bethany C. Morrow

A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water, #2)A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

After the explosive conclusion to A Song Below Water, teen influencer, Naema Bradshaw finds herself for the first time vilified in the public eye.

As an Eloko, a magical being beloved by all, Naema has been treated as a quasi-celebrity in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, for her entire life.

Now pegged as the mean girl who outed classmate, Tavia, as a Siren, Naema is getting dragged in social media channels where she has always been respected and adored.

Once a movie releases purporting to tell the true story behind Tavia, her sister, Effie, and the event known as The Awakening, Naema only sees hostility towards her increase.

Growing more and more frustrated with her current situation and the fact that no one seems to understand her side, Naema decides to leave town.

Heading South, Naema goes to stay with extended family that she never sees. This trip is actually her first time leaving Portland and the bubble she has created there for herself.

Greeted at the airport by her cousin Courtney, Naema can tell immediately from his reaction to her, that life is going to be very different outside of Portland.

Her family couldn’t care less about her Eloko status. She’ll be treated just like everyone else; loved and cherished, but for herself, not for her Elokoness.

It is once she is separated from all the noise in Portland, that Naema is finally able to channel the connection to her ancestors and discover the true power of her voice.

This story was interesting and a tough one to rate. I really had to consider it once I was done.

We only get Naema’s perspective in this book, whereas the first book followed both Tavia and Effie.

This one does incorporate a lot of mixed media, however, and I always enjoy that. It makes the overall story feel more realistic in my opinion.

The bulk of the story focuses on Naema coming into her own. We really get to deep dive into her world.

While there is still an underlining examination of privilege, race, social media and the experience of black women in America, I didn’t feel that coming through quite as strongly in this volume as in the first. It’s definitely still here, it’s just overshadowed a bit by Naema’s day-to-day.

As far as Naema goes. I really enjoyed her perspective a lot. She is snarky, strong-willed, stubborn and funny. I loved her interactions with Courtney and the rest of her family.

I can see why some people may be put off by her, she can seem a bit of a princess at times, however, I think she feels real.

She is a product of her environment, but once removed from Portland, she was able to grow and evolve as a character, which we love to see.

I think Morrow created an important and timely story with both of these books. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys YA Contemporary stories with Fantastical elements that tackle real life issues.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will definitely be picking up future work from this author!

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Review: A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water #1) by Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water, #1)A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Tavia is a Siren living in present-day, Portland, Oregon. Due to fear and discrimination against Sirens, Tavia is forced to hide her nature from those outside her home.

Navigating the world repressing her true-self presents a lot of challenges for her. It can be frustrating and often feels like the world is closing in on her.

Tavia’s best friend, Effie, was taken in by Tavia’s parents after suffering through some tough times.

Since then, the girls have come to rely upon one another. It’s them against world for the most part; at least it feels that way.

While Effie is not a Siren, there is definitely something magical about her. As she gets older, she begins to notice she is changing and she may not be able to hide much longer.

Effie works as a mermaid at a local Renaissance Fair, incorporating the lore of that job into her personality and thus, blending the lines between fantasy and reality.

When a murder trial making the national spotlight turns out to have a Siren as a victim, Siren’s existence is now a hot button issue.

Tavia listens as those around her discuss the case and the Siren’s fate and rights. From there we watch as the debates, opinions and stakes heat up.

Drenched in allegory, A Song Below Water includes lush, lyrical storytelling and is nuanced enough to provide a lasting impact.

Tavia and Effie’s relationship is beautiful to read. Their unconditional support for one another, set against a backdrop of a world that doesn’t guarantee them social justice. It was quite moving.

This novel is particularly relevant to the climate of the United States over the last few years. I love YA Contemporary stories that provide such social commentary.

The fact that this one mixed in fantastical elements with black girl magic made it that much more enjoyable.

The sequel to this novel, following different perspectives is now available. I am currently reading it and actually enjoying it even more.

I cannot wait to see what magic Morrow creates next!!

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Review: She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

She's Too Pretty to BurnShe’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Veronica and Nico are best friends. They’re both artists; she’s a photographer, while he is into edgy performance art.

As the summer days draw on, a girl enters their orbit, who will throw them both off course and away from one another.

Her name is Mick. She’s quiet, serious and shy; a swimmer, who works as a life guard. She’s also Veronica’s dream girl.

Mick’s strained relationship with her mother forces her to seek sanctuary outside of her home. She finds it with Veronica first, and then secretly with Nico.

When Nico’s artistic pursuits get riskier, both girls find themselves in over their heads. Events begin to spiral out of control.

No one knows who they can trust. It’s full on friendship chaos!

Described as being inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, I definitely enjoyed the art scene aspects of this novel. Particularly, Nico’s brand of subversive street art.

While the themes made this feel like a subtle, modern interpretation of Dorian Gray, I feel like Readers anticipating more of a retelling, may be disappointed.

I definitely recognized opposing philosophies for Veronica and Nico; art for art’s sake, versus art for a purpose.

I also enjoyed how Heard framed the societal reaction to art in this narrative; capturing the idea that beauty and youth, through the viral photo of Mick, are of the utmost importance.

Regardless of any immoral actions taken by Mick, her beauty was what mattered.

These were interesting characters. While the beginning took a while to take off, by the end, this narrative was wild as heck! It certainly went places I didn’t expect.

Overall, I think this is a good story. I feel like if you can connect in anyway to the art scene portion of this book, you’ll enjoy it, as I did.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Henry Holt and Company, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it!

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