ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis

serious moonlight.jpgMystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Simon and Schuster UK. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 16 in the U.S. and May 16 in the UK.*

I became a fan of Jenn Bennett when I read Alex, Approximately and absolutely fell in love with her writing. The way Bennett writes romance and handles various different issues from mental health to familial conflict with a gentle touch, I can never get sick of her writing and that remained true with Serious Moonlight.

At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fall into this book like I had with her other books because I wasn’t connecting with the main character, Birdie, but that changed pretty quickly. The novel begins with Birdie getting ready for her first day—night, actually—of work at a hotel. This is Birdie’s first real job, because her grandmother, who recently passed away, was incredibly strict. Birdie has lived a pretty sheltered life since her mother died when she was 10 and she went to live with her grandparents on an island near Seattle. However, Birdie is ready to put herself out there…kind of.

She may have gotten a little excited the first time she discovered freedom when she was looking for a job a little while before where the novel begins. It was then that she met Daniel Aoki at the Moonlight Diner. Instantly attracted to him and feeling daring, she ended up losing her virginity to him in the back of his car. Naturally, as soon as it was over Birdie freaked out and she ran, determined to never see him again. That was until she realized the guy driving the van during her shift at the hotel was Daniel himself. Awkward.

Though Birdie wanted to do everything but talk about that night or even interact with Daniel at all, Daniel had different plans. Knowing that Birdie was obsessed with mysteries he enlists her to help him solve a mystery at the hotel. Unable to resist, Birdie agreed to be partners with Daniel and sleuthing ensued. Together, they looked for clues about a mysterious guest at the hotel and along the way Birdie was forced to confront her feelings for Daniel and what they did in the back of his car.

Thankfully, Birdie had the help of her Aunt Mona, who wasn’t really her aunt but her mom’s best friend, and her Grandpa to help her figure out the mystery as well as her relationship, or lack thereof, with Daniel. Still, figuring out what she wanted was one thing, but actually doing something about it was something totally different.

Besides the adorable romance in this novel and the mystery, I was fascinated by Birdie’s struggles with undiagnosed narcolepsy. I can’t remember ever reading a book about someone, particularly a teen, struggling with narcolepsy and I thought Bennett handled it perfectly. In addition, Bennett also discussed mental health issues in a way that I would love to see more of. I won’t go into it because spoilers, but I really liked how everything was discussed between the characters.

All in all, this was another win for Bennett in my book. She has yet to disappoint me and at this point I doubt she ever will. Make sure to pick this book up when it’s released.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it, obviously!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Book Review: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Synopsis:

if i'm being honestCameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school–she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed. At first, Brendan isn’t so quick to forgive, but slowly he warms to her when they connect over a computer game he’s developing. To Cameron’s amazement, she actually enjoys hanging out with Brendan; he appreciates her honesty in a way Andrew never did, and she’s left wondering: maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for the kind of love you deserve.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Penguin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 23, 2019.*

I hadn’t read Always Never Yours before I heard about this book, but you better believe I will now. I already got a copy of it from the library, because I loved these authors writing so much and I’m desperate for more.

If I’m Being Honest is a Taming of the Shrew retelling done right, not that I ever read the William Shakespeare play, nor will I after the vibes I was getting about it in this book. If I’m Being Honest follows Cameron Bright, a high school senior who’s crush, Andrew, just called her a bitch. Ouch! But Cameron’s not the quitting type and she’s going to do what it takes to make Andrew realize she’s not a bitch, she’s just honest. Cameron starts by trying to apologize to Paige, the girl she was brutally honest with in front of Andrew and the cause of this whole mess, at least in Cameron eyes.

There’s just one problem. Paige can see right through Cameron’s nice girl act, which means Cameron has to step up her game and that means befriending Paige’s younger brother, Brendan, or as Cameron called him “Barfy Brendan,” a nickname of her own creation that has been detrimental to his social life for years. However, Brendan’s not at all interested in whatever it is Cameron has to say and it’ll take a lot of work to convince Brendan she’s genuinely trying to help and right her wrongs.

As Cameron works on getting Brendan to let her fix her mistakes, she ends up righting a number of other wrongs she’s made, including helping her one and only ex get back with the girlfriend he cheated on with Cameron. While Cameron begins to adjust her ideas of what’s being honest and what’s being cruel, her determination to not be a bitch becomes less about Andrew and more about being her best self.

This book contained a great romance that made me swoon, a number of laughs, and dealt with some real issues, mainly the verbal abuse Cameron’s father doled out on her and her mother. My only problem with this novel was the resolution between Cameron and her mother. While Cameron’s dad was consistently absent from Cameron’s life physically, her mother was absent mentally, as she was focused more on getting Cameron’s dad attention than having a steady job to pay the bills. I thought the explanation for why she was the way she was didn’t really make sense, but I’m willing to overlook it because overall I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up past 4 a.m. to finish it. I highly recommend reading this is if you’re looking for a quick romance filled with heart.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

ARC Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Synopsis:

The_Wicked_King_coverAfter the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from The Novl/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on January 8, 2019.*

Wow. Just wow.

Just when I thought I knew exactly what Holly Black was going to do she was like, “Lol nope.” This book was a ride, which shouldn’t have been surprising after the doozy that was The Cruel Prince, but I was still shook.

The Wicked King begins five months after the end of The Cruel Prince and Cardan is Jude’s puppet king, though everyone believes she’s simply Cardan’s seneschal. Still, though Jude has the power to command Cardan to do whatever she pleases, it is still difficult for Jude to maintain her control over the new High King. What’s worse is her year and a day of control over Cardan is coming to an end quicker than she can imagine, and Jude struggles to come up with a plan to extend her bargain with Cardan.

On top of everything else, Jude is also still reeling from her sister, Taryn’s, betrayal as well as dealing with the fallout of her own betrayal against her quasi-dad, Madoc. Thus, to say Jude may be a little in over her head is an understatement, but that’s what makes this book so fun. Jude has proved again and again that while she may be a mortal living in the world of Faerie she knows how to play the games of the fae just as well, if not better, than they do.

That said, there are a lot of forces working against Jude and the High King, some she doesn’t even know about. Though the fae can’t lie they can certainly deceive and while Jude may be able to out maneuver the best of them she may not be able to best them all.

At first this novel did start a bit slow for me, but once it picked up I couldn’t put it down. And the ending! I need book three yesterday. It was so good. Everything from Jude being the badass I came to love in book one to the continued sexual tension between her and Cardan had me turning page after to page to find out what would happen next. There were fights, kissing, betrayal, and the TWISTS! I don’t know how Black does it but she needs to teach a master class. This book was brilliant and I need everyone to read it as soon as it comes out because I’m dying to talk about it!

In sum, buy this book, read this book, and then come back here to fangirl with me because I am reeling! That is all.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

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Synopsis:

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine”and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on December 4, 2018.*

Since I haven’t posted in over a month (!!!) you may not be aware that I’m obsessed with Christina Lauren’s books. I started off this year by finishing Autoboyography and I’ve been reading every book by them I can get my hands on since then. It should be no surprise then that when I heard the ARC of their latest novel, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, was available for request on NetGalley I quickly requested it. Lucky for me I got it the very next day, and as I’m wont to do with a CLo novel, I read it in the span of 24 hours. What can I say? I’m hooked!

This novel is told in the dual perspectives of Millie, a closed off criminology professor, and one of her best friends, Reid, a down to earth, fun loving neurology professor (I think? He studies something with the retinas. Science isn’t my thing!). Any who, the pair hook up one night and because Millie doesn’t know how to deal with feelings, they quickly move on, and they, along with their other three best guy friends, decide to use a dating app to try to find dates for this fancy gala.

Except, while Millie can make the perfect profile for her best friends, hers, to put it mildly, sucks. So, when she tries again she ditches “Millie” altogether and creates “Catherine/Cat.” The only problem is she, or rather “Cat,” matches with Reid, and rather than reveal the truth or not go through with the match, Millie decides to spark a conversation and, well, everything kind of spirals out of control from there.

Here’s what I love about this novel: Millie. Just straight up, I love her. I love how well CLo handles Millie’s emotional detachment. As someone who deals with disassociation and lost a parent at a younger age than Millie, I heavily related to her. Hanging out with friends, making people laugh, doing the fun stuff? That’s easy. Talking about the serious topics or things that make me feel like a “downer”? That’s not only hard, it’s downright terrifying, and CLo captured that perfectly.

There were so many points in this novel where I was just like, “Wow Millie is me,” and then, “God, we are such a hot mess!” It’s funny, it’s real, and it’s heartbreaking. I both found myself laughing out loud and then crying. It was quite the ride.

Now here’s what I like about the novel: the romance. As always, CLo knows exactly how to make me fall in love with characters. When we meet Reid and Millie they’ve been friends for years and that familiarity is there from the start, but what CLo does so well is they show us the spark. They let us into that moment where both Reid and Millie have these lightbulbs go off in their heads that are just like, “Wait is my best friend crazy attractive and perfect for me in all the ways?” It was astounding and funny and heartwarming.

But I wanted more. This book is way less steamy than their other books, with the sex scenes fading to black, which isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think you need sex scenes in romance novels for it to work, but I wanted to see those moments that we got overviews of later. I wanted to see the intimate conversations Reid and Millie had in bed together. I wanted to see more of them actually falling in love in person, not just through their online conversations. And I think that’s why at the end of the novel I felt as happy as I always do with a CLo book, but I also didn’t feel satisfied. I just wanted a pinch more, but at the same time I think this book was really Millie’s story, and I’m very satisfied with her arc and growth, and this will always be a book close to my heart for that.

Thus, overall, this still makes it into my top three CLo books. The mental health issues are handled so well, I love the friend group of Reid, Millie, Chris, Alex, and Ed, and this is definitely a book that I would recommend everyone reads.

Borrow or Buy: BUY!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Book Review: Sadie

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Synopsis:

A gripping novel about the depth of a sister’s love; poised to be the next book you won’t be able to stop talking about.

A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Wednesday Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 4, 2018.*

I don’t normally read thrillers. I think the last thriller I read was The Good Girl, maybe, and that was a long time ago. However, I kept seeing Sadie everywhere so when I saw a post on Instagram about requesting an ARC I figured why not? And then when I actually got it I was happily surprised.

Truthfully, I didn’t really know what this book was about going into it but I was hooked from the first page. This book is written in the style of the transcript from a podcast called The Girls and Sadie’s first person POV. In the podcast, we follow host West McCray as he first learns about Sadie’s disappearance and then his search into what led to her disappearance and what could’ve happened to her. In Sadie’s POV we’re following along with her as she’s on the hunt for her sister’s killer.

Like I said, I was hooked from the very beginning. Just like West I became more and more enthralled in Sadie’s story as he started talking to people from Sadie’s life and following her trail from her hometown to where her abandoned car was found and then beyond it. On the flip side, I liked hearing Sadie’s side of things and what Courtney Summers did really well was not show her hand too early. While it was pretty clear who Sadie was hunting, the history between Sadie, the man she was looking for, Keith, and her sister, Mattie, wasn’t immediately clear. Neither was why Sadie was so sure it was Keith who killed Mattie.

I couldn’t put the book down until I found out if Sadie got her revenge and where she ended up. I also loved how complicated all the relationships in this story were, from Sadie and Mattie’s relationship as sisters and Sadie and Mattie’s different relationships to their mother, Claire, as well as the relationship between Claire and her neighbor and Sadie and Mattie’s quasi caretaker, May Beth.

Summers did an excellent job looking at a really dark issue, tying Sadie and Mattie’s stories into the stories of so many other victims. The way details were revealed between the podcast and Sadie’s own POV was so well done, and while I predicted some things I was still perfectly surprised by others. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a dark thriller and have a love for true crime podcasts. I’ve never listened to Serial but now I want to. Definitely pick this book up when it comes out. It’s worth a read. Or two. Also, there’s an actual podcast to go along with this book so check that out too.

Highlight for TW: Sexual assault, pedophilia, violence

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: Rule

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Synopsis:

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.
Or rather, three unexpected options.
Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.
Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.
Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.
When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.
Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/The Novl. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 11, 2018.*

Rule is being promoted as Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars and while I haven’t read Three Dark Crowns (yet!) I was a fan of the PLL series (the first eight books). Thus, I was intrigued, and overall I thought this book was pretty good.

The novel is told in alternating close third POVs of Zofi, Florencia (Ren), and Akeylah, three very different girls who discover they’re all daughters of the king, who’s dying and needs an heir. What I loved most about this book was the world building. There’s a lot of history and prejudice going on in this world and at first I found it a little hard to keep everything straight, but once I got it I loved how intricate the history of this world was.

In sum, the girls live in the Reaches, which is basically this conglomerate of areas that came together to get out from under the power of another country, Genal. Within the Reaches there’s the Eastern Reach, which is filled with rebels who feel they’re not being fairly treated compared to those who live in the capital, Kolonya. Akeylah is an Easterner. Additionally, there are Travelers who, as you may have guessed, travel around the country in groups. The term “drifter” is a derogatory term often thrown in their face. Zofi is a drifter. Ren was born and raised in Kolonya, so she’s the most “pure” so to speak.

With this much division in the country, the book of course deals with prejudice, which I thought was great. All the girls are POCs and there’s also a f/f romance, which unlike other books with LGBTQ rep, it wasn’t a problem because the women were gay, but for a number of other reasons. It seems in this world like same sex relationships aren’t frowned upon, though it’s hard to say for sure since there weren’t any other same sex relationships in the book that weren’t a secret. I did have one small issue with Zofi’s hair being compared to a “tumble weed.” That just didn’t sit right with me.

In any case, all the girls have a dark secret and unfortunately for them someone knows about it and is threatening to reveal the truth if they don’t abdicate their chance at the throne. This is the part that gave me serious “A” vibes and I loved it. Each girl gets sketchy messages that are creepy and show a clear invasion of their privacy, which upped the stakes for me. Each girl also has a love interest, which was only sometimes interesting. I found some of the romance in this book to be a little unbelievable because I didn’t see why/how these relationships formed, specifically with Akeylah. It seemed like she just had a small connection with the person and then she was infatuated with them. I felt like the other two girls had these clear developed relationships with their love interests and I wanted that for Akeylah as well, so that fell flat for me.

As for the mystery behind who was threatening the girls, I will say the book surprised me. I thought I knew what was going on, but it turned out I actually had no idea, so I really enjoyed that aspect and that’s honestly enough to get me to read the sequel to see how this all ends. That said, this wasn’t really a book I couldn’t put down. It was interesting, but not a nail biter. Still, like I said, I’m intrigued to see what happens next.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

3 stars

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ARC Book Review: What If It’s Us

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Synopsis:

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Books for Trade. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on October 9, 2018.*

I love Becky Albertalli’s books and I love Adam Silvera’s books so when I heard they were writing a book together I knew I had to have it. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a kind soul on Twitter who was willing to trade their ARC with me for my ARC of Save the Date, which is also an incredible read. Thus, I finally got What If It’s Us in my hands and I’m so glad I got to read it early because it was just as good as I thought it would be.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Arthur, a Jewish boy from Georgia who’s spending his summer in New York City as an intern at his mom’s law firm, and Ben, a Puerto Rican New York City native who’s stuck in summer school with his ex, Hudson. Arthur and Ben coincidentally cross paths when Ben attempts to mail a box of Hudson’s stuff at the post office. Unfortunately, their love story isn’t an easy one and begins with Ben leaving the post office before Arthur could get his phone number.

Even though I wouldn’t call this a high stakes novel since it’s a contemporary romance, I will say I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how in the world these two guys would ever cross paths again in this huge city. Once they did, I then wondered how they’d ever make their relationship work. Over the course of the novel, there were a lot of questions about fate and whether or not the universe was trying to bring Ben and Arthur together or pull them apart, which I loved.

I also thoroughly enjoyed all the Hamilton and other musical references and I think any musical geek will love this book for that alone. Besides the great references though, this book was also really funny with a great cast of characters. I really loved both Ben and Arthur’s support systems, but Ben’s best friend, Dylan, was hands down my favorite. I also loved that this book took a hard look at Ben and Arthur’s differences. I loved the discussions of race/culture and what it means to be “smart.” I also really liked that the book combated this idea that homophobia doesn’t exist in places like New York City, because it does.

Overall, I will say this book really felt like a perfect combination of Albertalli and Silvera’s talents. While it gave me all the feels, it also made me think, and definitely tugged at my heart strings a few times. In sum, definitely preorder this book if you haven’t already. It’s a must read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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