ARC Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

four dead queens.jpgSynopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indie Bound

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 February 26, 2019.*

There is so much that I loved about this book, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s just start with the world in general. Astrid Scholte gave me a fantasy world where there is no magic, and I love her for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good magical system, but the way Scholte was able to build this world where magic-like things happened simply because of science and technology was really awesome to me. I absolutely loved that aspect of the world building and I’m totally here for more fantastical worlds without magic.

Second, I also loved how this world was set up in general and the history behind it. In Quadara (love that “quad” is in the kingdom name), there are four quadrants: Eonia, Archia, Ludia, and Toria. These quadrants are split by walls and for the most part people do not move from one quadrant to the other, thus causing a great deal of separation between the people of each quadrant and very different ways of life. In Eonia, people grow up without emotions and they are highly focused on science and how to make the best kind of humans. Archia is all about a natural way of life. They balk at technology and are focused on agriculture. Ludia is a stress free, care free quadrant. Their focus is on the arts and entertainment. Toria is all about curiosity and exploration, but honestly, I felt like Toria was the least defined quadrant. I felt like I had a clear understanding of the other three quadrants, but Toria left me a little confused. Still, I think Scholte did a great job of explaining why the kingdom has the four quadrants and the four queens that rule them.

Third, the twists in this novel killed me! The formatting of this novel was so well done. There are alternating chapters of Keralie in first person and then each of the queens in third person. Scholte did an amazing job of playing with time in this story and a good number of bait and switches. Every time I thought I had everything figured out she pulled the rug out from under me. It is rare that I am truly surprised by a novel and I was surprised multiple times with this one. I absolutely loved it and all the twists and turns made this book so hard to put down.

Lastly, I’m a sucker for romance and look for it in every book I read, whether it’s actually there or not. Thus, I was immediately intrigued by Keralie and Varin’s team up. I love a good hate to love romance, and though I wouldn’t even go as far as to say these two actually hated each other at the start of the novel, I found Varin’s constant irritation with Keralie as they decided to work together to save the queens highly amusing. These two were polar opposites in the best way and I shipped them immediately. There were also a number of other romantic plot lines throughout the book with various disagrees of happy and not happy at all endings that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

All in all, I loved this novel. The plot was very well-written and the characters were incredibly interesting and complex, especially Keralie. I love a flawed character and Keralie certainly isn’t perfect, but at her core she’s a good person and I loved that about her. I highly recommend picking up Four Dead Queens when it hits the shelves, and I personally can’t wait to see what Scholte writes next.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC 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:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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 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: My So-Called Bollywood Life

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Synopsis:

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Crown 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 May 15, 2018.*

I didn’t know about this book until I went to the New York City Teen Author Festival and Nisha Sharma was on a debut authors panel and read an excerpt of this novel. I thought it sounded hilarious, so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I immediately jumped on it and I’m so glad I did.

Told in a close third person narration, My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie, a senior in high school who’s returned home from film camp to discover her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend, Raj, is dating someone else. Although, in Raj’s defense, they were on a break. However, if he’d watched Friends he would know that’s not a reasonable excuse, but I digress.

The point is, Raj and Winnie are over, which is especially confusing for Winnie because all her life she’s believed in a prophecy she got from a pandit who said she’d meet the love her life before her 18th birthday and the guy’s name would begin with a ‘R’ and would give her a silver bracelet.

Now Winnie is fighting against believing that prophecy and wants to make her destiny, beginning with getting into NYU. To do that she needs to run the film festival at her school and be co-president of the film club…with Raj. Of course this doesn’t go well and it doesn’t help that another boy at school, Dev, is now showing renewed interest in Winnie and Raj just can’t seem to let go and still believes he and Winnie are meant to be.

With a love triangle, drama, a lot of Bollywood references, and the best parents you’ll ever meet, My So-Called Bollywood Life was a fun read that I just couldn’t put down. It also made me want to watch a Bollywood movie (I’ve never seen one!). My only issue was with the conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoiling so I’ll just say I thought the conflict made it seem like Winnie should give up on something she worked quite hard for just for a guy, and the fact that her best friend, Bridget, seemed to also agree with this sentiment really irked me. If you want a more detailed explanation I’ll put it down below with spoilers.

However, this issue aside, I think the book kind of made up for it in the end, and overall I really did enjoy this book despite that one little thing, so I still highly recommend it. Definitely grab a copy of the book, which is on sale today!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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More Detailed Explanation Of My Issue With This Book Below (SPOILERS!)

In short, Dev and Winnie get together, they have a great time at the fundraiser dance for the film festival, but then the next day Dev is accused of stealing the money from the ticket sales and the money is found in his locker.

It obviously wasn’t him, but there’s no concrete proof it wasn’t so the faculty advisor for the club, Mr. Reece, pulled Dev’s movie from the film festival. Winnie was determined to clear Dev’s name, but she didn’t quit the film club, and for some reason both Dev and Bridget got angry with Winnie for not quitting. I thought this was absurd and for them to ask Winnie to quit the club, something that would boost her college application, was ridiculous.

Of course Winnie wasn’t going to quit the club and give up on something she’d been working towards for so long for some guy she just started dating. That’s crazy, and it was so unreasonable to me that everyone just agreed that’s what she should do. Maybe this why I’m still single but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to ask someone to give up on their dream for a guy, much less one she hadn’t even been dating that long.

That being said, I felt the novel sort of corrected the problem by having Winnie still pursue her dream, just in a different way. The epilogue also made it abundantly clear that Winnie could have both the guy and her career as a film critic, which I appreciated. Still, that one part just didn’t sit well with me at all.

ARC Book Review: Save the Date

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Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book while interning at Simon & Schuster Children’s. 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 June 5, 2018.*

I haven’t read all of Morgan Matson’s books yet, but I’ve read enough to feel confident saying this is her best novel to date. I couldn’t put this book down no matter how hard I tried (and I had a 17 page paper to write so I definitely tried).

The novel follows Charlie Grant during the weekend of her sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Although Charlie wants this to be the perfect weekend with her family, especially now that her parents are selling their house and her mother’s popular comic strip, Grant Family Station, is coming to an end, everything that could go wrong does.

First, Charlie’s estranged brother, Mike, actually accepts his invitation to Linnie’s wedding and his plus one is his best friend, Jesse, who Charlie has a huge crush on and kissed, though she doesn’t want Mike to know about that. From there, everything begins to fall apart from the wedding planner being AWOL to a missing wedding suit. As hard as Charlie tries, her hopes for a perfect weekend slip further and further away and it becomes clear that her life isn’t exactly like the life her mother depicts in her comics.

Charlie quickly realizes that her family is more flawed than she thought and she’ll have to figure out how to deal with the truth that sometimes things change and the only thing you can do is continue to move forward. Unlike Matson’s other novels, I’d say this one is really more about family than romance, though the romance is certainly there. That being said, it was the family that really hooked me.

I loved all the Grant siblings, though J.J. was certainly my favorite. Additionally, Matson did a great job of showing just how close this family was with all their quirks, shared secrets, and games. I also really liked the character of Brooke, the girlfriend of Charlie’s oldest and favorite sibling, Danny, and Charlie’s best friend, Siobhan. As always, there are also cameos from characters in Matson’s previous novels, which I absolutely loved, and honestly they may have made this book even more special to me.

So if you couldn’t already tell, I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. I can honestly see myself reading it again when it comes out. It’s just that good.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel

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Synopsis:

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 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 May 8, 2018.*

I haven’t read any of Goo’s books before, but I’ve heard only good things about her works so I decided to request this one and I was not the least bit disappointed. The novel follows Clara, a teen who loves to pull pranks, especially when it means ruining her enemy, Rose’s, day.

However, when Clara’s prank at prom takes things too far she suddenly finds herself having to work on her father’s food truck, the KoBra, with Rose, ruining her plans for the perfect summer and visiting her mom, Jules, who she doesn’t see often. Miserable and angry, Clara wants nothing to do with this task or with Rose, but the longer she’s forced to work with her the more Clara realizes Rose isn’t all that terrible after all.

I really loved this story because I think Goo did a really good job of showing where Clara’s needs for pranks came from and I really understood her as a character. On the flip side, I also totally got where Rose was coming from and I liked seeing these girls being forced to realize that even though they were different that didn’t mean they had to be enemies. I’m a big fan of girl friendship stories and this was a great one.

Additionally, Clara’s dad, Adrian, is definitely a DILF. I fell in love with him pretty early on and I have no regrets. I also really liked Clara’s romantic interest, Hamlet. He was so quirky and genuine and I thought that was a nice contrast to Clara, who definitely struggled with facing her real feelings about things.

Lastly, Goo did an incredible job of showing the relationships between Clara and her separated parents. I think it would’ve been really easy to make one parent look like the good one and the other look bad, but Goo did a great job of showing why Adrian was so awesome, but also how Jules was flawed but still tried. I thought it was amazing to see Clara learn more about her parents, because I think it’s something a lot of kids with divorced parents go through, where they realize their fun parent isn’t always the best parent.

Thus, overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly loved it and it made me incredibly hungry, but in the best way. Now I want to read all of Goo’s books so I think I’ll go do that. If you’ve read The Way You Make Me Feel, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Borrow or Buy: Definitely, buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Summer of Us

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Synopsis:

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from 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 will be released on June 5, 2018.*

What is this? A book review? From me? Why yes, your girl is back! School is finally winding down, which means I can finally read the books I want, which includes a backlog of a plethora of ARCs. So without further ado let’s get to it.

True story, I kind of forgot I requested this book, but I’ve been in a contemporary mood as of late so I was excited to dive in. The Summer of Us is told in alternating close third person POVs of two best friends—Aubrey and Rae—as they embark on a backpacking trip across Europe with their other three best friends: Gabe, Clara, and Jonah. Except things in this friend group are totally complicated.

Aubrey’s dating Jonah, but three weeks ago she kissed Gabe. Oops! Meanwhile, Rae has a huge crush on Clara, but Clara’s so obviously straight…or is she? Naturally, as the trip goes on people’s secrets come out and drama arises, but at the heart of this novel is story about friendship and what it means when everything in your world is changing, but you want it all to stay the same.

I found this story to be very relatable, and it made me reflect on my own experience of graduating high school and being both excited to move on and start the next chapter in my life and also being totally scared of losing my friendships from high school. Cecilia Vinesse perfectly captured that feeling with her novel through both perspectives, and the romance was also a nice touch.

Overall, The Summer of Us is a quick read that will make you want to hop on the next flight to London and take your own backpacking trip around Europe with a group of your closest friends. I highly recommend this novel if you love tales of friendship and romance. It’s a perfect summer read!

Borrow or Buy: Buy it! I could see this being a book you want to read every summer.

Stars:

4 stars