*The writer begins to hyperventilate*

I just…wow. I mean, I’m kind of having a heart attack over here right now realizing that my blog is older than some 4th graders. A DECADE OLD. I thought I’d done the math right a few weeks ago, that this was only 9 years old, but then I found out that actually, no, I was was wrong.

So yeah, on one hand, I feel suddenly really old.

On the other hand, I am very grateful to have had this outlet (and ALL OF YOU!) for all this time. You guys, when I started this blog as a side project in college, I NEVER thought it would last this long. It was mostly a way to pass the time and talk about YA books with like-minded people. This is just…ridiculous. And ridiculously cool.

THANK YOU. ALL OF YOU. Whether you’ve been here from the beginning or you’re new, I’m so glad you’ve found your way here. I would say ‘Here’s to another ten,’ but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this ten.

Hearts Made For Breaking

Hearts Made for Breaking

First Lines: Yesterday, my heart was “broken,” which is why today I’m sitting on a glossy but practical daybed with hidden drawers for extra storage. The mattress is firm, the spread is a bright floral pattern, and the throw pillows are wide and comfortable. Yep–IKEA on a Saturday morning. That’s me.

I’m a sucker for love stories. If there’s a moderately interesting plot idea there, I’ll probably read it. I think this comes from the side of my brain that is really fascinated by sociology/psychology, but I will also admit to just really loving the emotions in these stories. I’ve read one of Klein’s other books and this one sounded kind of fun, so I wanted to check it out.

Lark has a foolproof plan for dating in high school: date the guy briefly, let him down gently, stay friends, move on. No hurt feelings. Her BFFs Cooper and Kate think Lark keeps guys at a distance to avoid being hurt–and feeling real love. They challenge her to change up her system, to stay in a relationship long enough for either her or the boy to fall in love. Accepting the dare, Lark sets her sights on the new boy, Ardy, who has been labeled as “undateable.” Lark is curious about him…and then intrigued the more she gets to know him. Before Lark knows it, she might be in love with him–but whose heart will be broken?

So let’s be real, I knew going into this exactly what it was going to be: a simple love story that wasn’t going to win any awards but would probably still be pretty cute.

And that’s pretty much what it was.

Lark has “dated” a lot of guys–or at least she’s made out with them. She always keeps it casual and then finds ways for the guy to break up with her. Voila, no one has a broken heart. But her friends are tired of seeing her do this over and over, so they tell her she needs to find a different kind of guy, date for 3 months, and then have an Epic Breakup. Enter the “Undatable” Ardy Tate.

Ardy is definitely the heart of this story, despite the fact that Lark and her friends spend so much time kind of doubting/trashing him. I thought Ardy was just incredibly sweet and honest and yeah, a little weird, but that made him cute and quirky. The way Lark shines when she’s with him just helps to highlight how awesome he is.

Lark, on the other hand, takes a little getting used to. She spends so much time putting up a perfect façade that very few people every really get to know her. And she’s kind of manipulative, the way she’s dealt with guys before. And she tends to be pretty self-centered, not caring how her words or actions could hurt someone else. But Ardy seems to have had a big effect on her and by the middle of the book, I started to like her more.

There are some good messages in this, which I appreciated and liked. The most obvious of which is that you shouldn’t judge someone before you get to know them, as every judged Ardy based on a few stupid rumors.

The story itself was pretty entertaining. The beginning did take some time to really get going, but by the time I was about halfway through the book, I was reading for long stretches at a time to see how it all continued to play out. I like when that happens.

It’s a pretty average teenage love story, but if that’s your jam, this can be a fun read.

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2020

Hey everyone! As promised, I’m trying to log some of these and (starting next week) catch up on some that I missed that sound interesting. Obviously, 2020 was a year a lot of us had a bit more free time on our hands and I definitely used that for reading. But having not actually looked at this particular facet yet, I’m pretty interested to see who I’d never read before. I have a couple in mind already, but I’m excited to dive in!

Let’s check it out!

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2020

1. Alexandra Bracken (Wayfarer, Passenger)

Bracken has been on my to-read list for years. I think every time she comes out with a new series, it gets added to my list. But until 2020, I’d never actually read any of them. That changed with Wayfarer, a time travel story that I enjoyed so much I had to read the sequel last year too. And I have another of her books sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

2. Sarah Henning (Throw Like a Girl)

I have one of Henning’s earlier books, Sea Witch, on my to-read list, but the one that got my attention was Throw Like a Girl. A mix of romance and sports, I was definitely interested. It’s a redemption story while still being cute. I really hope she writes more like this. This was good.

3. Emma Lord (Tweet Cute)

Ok, so Lord is a debut author, so we’ve all only read one of her books so far. I feel like it’s cheating to add her to the list except that I’m really excited to see her sophomore novel that JUST CAME OUT. Her debut was so cute, with accurate social media representations and awesome characters. I can’t wait for more.

4. Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes)

I think this series just ended this past year, right? So I’m late to the party. I liked the first book, but I read this in the middle of…2020…and with all the politics and evil government and oppression, I just didn’t feel like reading the next one yet. But it’s an adventurous story.

5. Megan Bannen (Soulswift)

I read this ARC earlier last year and, for a standalone fantasy, I thought it was awesome. It’s hard to do that well, but I thought the world building was great, the characters were compelling, and the plot was just so engrossing. I really want to see what else she’s done.

6. M.A. Bennett (S.T.A.G.S.)

STAGS was a book I bought for super cheap at a dollar store. I didn’t have high expectations for it, and maybe that helped, but I thought this was amazing. These rich kids in England invite loners/scholarship kids from school to a private mansion for a hunting weekend, except the prey isn’t the animals, it’s them. The way it’s written, you intentionally know how it ends from the beginning and you’re just trying to piece together what happened. I really want to read the sequel.

7. Wendelin Van Draanen (Wild Bird)

A lot of you are probably very familiar with Van Draanen because of a novel or two you had to read in like, middle school or something. My school teaches one of her books. But I’d never read her before. I checked out Wild Bird on a whim because it looked like a short, fast read and I could not put it down. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

8. Kerri Maniscalco (Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula)

Obviously, these books have been out for some time, but I only just got started on this series this year. I think I read them a little too closely together because while I liked the first one, I thought the second one was derivative and cheesy. Now that I’ve put some time between them, maybe the third one will be better? Guess we’ll see. But she’s got a new series that just came out at the end of last year and that looks interesting too.

9. Katharine McGee (American Royals)

I saw this book on a Goodreads Award list or something in 2019 and it caught my attention big time. I read it and really enjoyed it. I haven’t read McGee’s previous series, though I was aware of it. (Is it any good??) But I definitely want to see more from her.

10. Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die)

I kind of wanted to end this list on a silly one. This book was out when I was in like, high school. It’s been on my to-read list since 2010 and look, I finally managed to read it! It was cheesy and definitely a product of its time, but it had its creepy moments. I tried reading the second book, but it was just too dumb at this point and I gave up. I don’t think I’ll be reading anything else by her, but it was fun for a change of pace.

Let’s Talk About Bridgerton

Ok, my fellow friends, we need to have a conversation about Bridgerton, the hottest new Netflix show, if you’ve somehow managed to not hear about that.

Over the course of a 3 day weekend, I watched the whole season. (I was pacing myself. Could I have watched it faster? Yes, but I wanted to savor it.)

I’m going to break this post into two parts: Review and Frustrations.

Shows like Bridgerton: Period. drama pieces to watch if you loved Bridgerton


As far as being entertainment, this met my mark. I thought it was melodramatic, scandalous, and witty enough to keep me interested. There are a whole host of characters to follow–which means plenty to love and hate. And there is one character who had me cursing at the TV all the time, so the hate was real.

The plot is what you expect from your basic Regency romance: Daphne Bridgerton is newly out in society and searching for a husband. Quickly described as the “Diamond” of the season, she’s held in high esteem…until her prospects suddenly dry up after her overprotective brother drives all the suitors away. Now, if Daphne has any hope of landing a husband, she needs a new plan. Enter the Duke of Hastings, her brother’s best friend. He’s practically fending off mothers with a stick to keep his vow never to wed. He agrees to help Daphne become more desirable to the men of society if she will help him keep the mamas away.

So yeah. Guess how that one ends.

But just because I knew where it was headed didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. Daphne is one of eight Bridgerton children, so there was always a lot going on. There were also the Featheringtons next door who were constantly getting into trouble. So while I may have known how Daphne’s story was probably going to go, I didn’t know about the other plot lines. And that was fun to discover as I watched and thought I knew how it would go.

The casting is interesting. At first, I was a bit of a historical purist, in that the casting is very multicultural and that didn’t mesh with history. Like they made Queen Charlotte a woman of color. But after watching the first episode, it was fine. In fact, it made the story all the more interesting. It’s basically a slightly alternate version of history in which King George and Queen Charlotte’s marriage actually ushered in the acceptance of different races in this society–including as Dukes and other noblemen. It’s very Shonda Rimes, I’m discovering, from my very limited knowledge of her shows.

Sometimes the plot/show did get a little tedious, but I overall enjoyed it. And it was also kind of awesome (and distracting at times) that the music in this was a lot of current pop music in string instrumental versions. I got super distracted at one pivotal moment in the series because it was playing Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” instrumentally in the background. I spent a good chunk of time trying to place the song rather than watching the show!


The other day at school, I was talking about this show with my coworkers at lunch. It was five women, all of us socially distanced around a large room. Three of us had seen the show, two had not.

Immediately after I brought it up, it was being batted around by two of them that this show was “trash”. One had seen it, one had not. They were calling it “trash” because it was based on a romance novel and had lovemaking scenes in it. One, who has a 17 year old daughter who has been asking if she could watch this, said that she told her no because her daughter really only wanted to watch it for the nudity scenes. (Which…like…is that really a terrible thing? I know that’s her daughter, so yuck, but…) She explained that this kind of TV was trash and wasn’t worth her time.

And…I sat there silently processing what had just happened, feeling something akin to a growing pit in my stomach area.

Because look. I’m a proponent of reading whatever you want. You read comics? Cool. You only read nonfiction books about gardening? Awesome. You’re an adult aficionado of children’s books? Good for you.

So I’m kind of starting to hate it when people dump on romance novels. I have learned so much from the historical romances I’ve read–things about class issues, things about the history of “unpickable” locks, things about women’s rights and how women fought for their own little slice of independence, my God, I’ve even learned a good bit of French from them. But most of all, I’ve learned that relationships take work and compromise and compassion and forgiveness. And that we’re all heroes and heroines in our own stories.

I made this argument at Christmas with my family when my family made fun of me for watching so many “predictable” Hallmark movies. I said, “You say Hallmark is predictable, but what about every Fast and Furious movie? I’ve never seen any, but I’m pretty sure something blows up in every single one of them.” One of my brothers immediately said no, but my dad was kind of laughing and he went, “Yeah, I think it does.” Point. Made.

So the problem does not seem to be that these stories are predictable and I’ve seen enough action and comedy movies to know that plenty of nudity and dirty jokes work their way into those movies too. Yet no one has a problem with those. They have a problem with it as soon as it’s about a loving relationship (which seems odd to me that this is the problem) and marketed to women.

I hate that people hear “romance” and they immediately get these mental images of 50 Shades and every crappy romance novel they’ve ever read. There are absolutely loser novels out there, as there are in every genre. I’ve read some real snoozer nonfiction books. I’ve read YA that has made me uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean they’re all worthless.

It’s time to start accepting romance. I’ve mulled this over in my head for a while, and I think I might start adding romance novels into my reviews, since I’m reading so many of them anyway. Then I’ll be posting a bit more frequently and maybe expand my audience a little. I know you all aren’t romance fans, but I think maybe I can help normalize reading them. And I really want to do that.

You Say It First

You Say It First

First Lines: “In conclusion,” Meg said brightly, standing at the podium under the harsh fluorescent lights of the PTA meeting room on Wednesday evening, “it’s the position of the student council that our school is already sorely behind in doing its part to combat climate change.”

I’ve never read anything by Katie Cotugno before this book, but this one caught my eye. There was obviously an influx of YA political stories in the last couple years and I’m always a little interested to see what they say and how they say it.

Meg’s life is perfect and has been perfectly planned out: finish out high school with her sweet boyfriend Mason, get into Cornell where she’ll room with her bestie Emily, and continue clocking in hours at a phone bank that helps register people to vote. But everything changes the night Mason breaks up with her and she calls someone in small-town Ohio who irritates her the moment he picks up the phone. Colby is stuck in a dead-end job, stuck in a family reeling from tragedy, and stuck in life. The last thing he needs is some uppity girl preaching the values of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up. Except, that’s not the end of it. That call leads to a series of calls that, while sometimes heated, turns into a long-distance friendship and then…maybe something more. But are these two just too different to work?

I’m very conflicted about this book.

On the one hand, I think the premise is still kind of cool. Colby and Meg have never met–Meg’s job at a phone bank in Philly has her calling people in Ohio to register them to vote. A horrible conversation between them leads to Meg calling back to apologize…and it’s history from there. The fact that most of their relationship is over the actual phone is…weirdly novel for this generation? (And I would throw my own generation in that as well.) Like, Meg and Colby text, but mostly it’s phone calls. I don’t know. It just seemed retro and current at the same time.

I also liked Meg and Colby individually. Meg is driven and modern in her views. She’s had a few personal setbacks, like her parents’ divorce about a year ago, but she has a Plan. And Colby is the exact opposite. Stuck in a dead-end job, living at home because he can’t afford anything else, he figures he’s going to live and die in this little town doing stupid stuff on the weekends with the guys he knows.

To an extent, Meg and Colby brought out the best in each other. Colby really did need a kick in the pants and Meg needed to stop being so judgy. That was fine. But man, did I not really like these two together. Arguing politics on the phone was one thing, but as soon as they met in person, things went nuclear. Not in a good way. These two really probably should not be together. And it was sad to see that, from characters we are meant to like.

My other problem is that everything in this book is a Big Dramatic Moment. Meg, Colby, their families, and their friends seem to blow things out of proportion all the time. A few times, yeah, it’s justified. I 100% see that. But other times I just kept wondering why this was such a big deal. Either the book was too melodramatic or I didn’t understand the characters enough to know why it mattered to them that much.

It had cute moments. I did get sucked into the book pretty quickly and it held my attention, but I’m still a bit disappointed.

Love Letters to the Dead

Love Letters to the Dead

First Lines: Dear Kurt Cobain, Mrs. Buster gave us our first assignment in English today, to write a letter to a dead person. As if the letter could reach you in heaven, or at the post office for ghosts. She probably meant for us to write to someone like a former president or something, but I need someone to talk to. I couldn’t talk to a president. I can talk to you.

I put this book on my to-read list 7 years ago. I even recommended it to friends before I’d read it because, at the time, I’d heard really good things about it. And then I never read it myself. Nearly 7 years later to the day, I finally picked it up.

It’s freshman year, and Laurel’s first real English assignment is to write a letter to a dead person. She chooses Kurt Cobain, to begin with, because he was her sister May’s favorite artist–and they both died young. Soon, her notebook is filled with letters to other famous dead: Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, and more…though she never turns in the assignment. This journal is for her, to figure out the feelings of first love, navigating new friendships, surviving a splintered family, and finally…abuse. Only when Laurel has written about what happened can she start to deal with what happened to May.

I really struggled to get into this book. Like, I almost quit it over 50 pages in because it was…a lot. Laurel and her family are experiencing a lot of pain after Laurel’s sister, May, died in the spring. Writing letters to the dead was an English project she was supposed to do as homework, but the letters soon turned too personal for her to turn in and she decided to keep it as a kind of journal instead, writing letters from one celebrity to another. As to that part of the story, I thought that was interesting. Laurel felt a real connection to these celebrities and it showed.

But basically every character in the beginning was kind of a terrible person. Some actually are legitimately terrible people, others just made really bad choices and I struggled with the fact that even Laurel didn’t feel like a heroine at the beginning. This might sound weird, but this is very early 2010s writing, a backlash to the goodie-two-shoes of the earlier YA heroines. But when I read about 14-15 year olds going around flashing people and getting drunk…I’m uncomfortable. Does it happen? I’m sure it does. But as an adult now…it doesn’t sit right.

And I’ll fully admit that might be part of the problem I had with this story: I’m reading it as an adult twice Laurel’s age, not as someone who is her age. I’m 100% convinced this led to many problems I had with the story, so take that as a disclaimer.

Still, I thought the story took a long time to get going. It’s all dark and sad and lonely at the beginning because Laurel starts at a new school and doesn’t have friends and she’s dealing with the loss of her sister. It’s a lot of “woe is me” at the beginning, a lot of pain. That’s a hard way to start a book when you don’t know anything about what’s happening. It didn’t exactly make me want to pick it up more because of that. But once Laurel starts getting more comfortable and starts building a community around her, it got easier to read.

This book has a lot of dark themes in it, things I don’t necessarily want to talk about because there’s a lot of mystery around what happened to May and I don’t want to spoil that. But suffice it to say, this will get uncomfortable and dark and…well, disturbing, I guess is the word I’m looking for. It wasn’t always easy to read. I actually ended up in a bad place mentally when I finished the book and immediately had to watch something happy to get out of it.

It’s…fine. It might have been better if I read it when it came out. I don’t think it’s aged spectacularly well.