This Chick Read: Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn

Finding out her entire life is a lie, Meg Hennessey leaves the safety of the town she has grown up with to take a trip up north to meet the family she never knew she had. On her first day in town she meets Micah Allen, son of an ex-pastor who is now in prison. The two strike up a friendship having more in common than first thought. Both are struggling to find themselves and reconnect with their faith that they feel betrayed them. Instead they find a connection that helps them find solace at the same time makes them question the ways they were brought up even more.

Never Saw You Coming is an apt title for a story that I truly did not see coming. Equal parts YA Contemporary and Christian fiction Meg and Micah’s story opened my eyes to a community that was supposed to be about support but instead seemed restrictive, especially towards women. Meg was brought up in a strictly religious household. Her church taught their girls to not catch the eye of a boy, wear clothing that covered their skin, and to keep themselves pure for God and their future husband. When she found out her mother got pregnant when she was a teenager with someone she met from youth group (who died shortly after) and her “father” was her mom’s best friend, all of that strict upbringing seemed totally hypocritical. Instead of taking her gap year like she had decided Meg drives upstate to visit her real dad’s family and see if she can make a connection to them and to her lost faith.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction. Well, I don’t go looking for it anyway but have been pleasantly surprised by a few novels in the past. Never Saw You Coming hit me like a freight train. Meg had this innocence from her sheltered upbringing that brought a joy to the decisions she made when she got to Marquette. When she meets her great-grandmother and uncle she brings to their lives that same joy, and it’s not surprising that she wants to delve into that relationship a bit more. Meg was also homeschooled and didn’t have a ton of friends so is pleased that she seems to have no trouble making friends in Marquette. Especially making friends with Micah who she shyly finds attractive.

Meg and Micah are both secure in their relationship with God, but they aren’t as secure in the way that faith seems to be addressed through Church. This is a topic that is deeply explored in this novel and which, truthfully, opened my eyes. I found this look into their faith fascinating and was really pleased with how the characters explored their questions, rejecting some attitudes, and accepting others. It seemed a realistic viewpoint and although I was a little horrified at how this religion treated Meg, I was pleased with how the men in her life stepped forward claiming that treatment unacceptable. (Thank goodness!)

As with other Erin Hahn novels, I really enjoyed this story! She is a truly talented author and while this topic isn’t my usual I could tell that it meant something to the author and I’m glad she told this story as I think it needed to be told. I’m a bit older than her target demographic but I think this is a message that was well told and needs to be heard. I will definitely be keeping an eye for this author’s next novel as she is quickly becoming a go to author for me. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase!* Never Saw You Coming: A Novel

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

Friday YA: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

When Evie’s dad left her mom for another woman she stopped believing in love. When one day when dropping all of her romances at a Free Little Library she develops a special power of being able to see a couple kissing and “see” their story it only seemed to confirm what she already believed. Love doesn’t last, so why put yourself in the way of heartbreak? There has to be a reason she has this power, right? Searching for it she picks up the book she took out of the library. It has a return to sender stamp which is just around the corner from her house. Taking the book to this dance studio might make these powers go away. Instead she finds herself signed up for a dance contest with a partner named X. A partner who makes her smile and her fingers tingle. But she doesn’t believe in love, right?

At first glance this story felt like it was going to be a magical bit of fun, and in a way it was, but it also pulled quite a punch! Evie was pretty cynical about love and she had good reason after all, but after she met the two elderly owners of the dance studio who were so obviously in love I thought she’d snap out of her cynicism. It i mathematically impossible for 100% of all couples to end in heart break. Underlying her cynicism was a deep resentment towards her father for how things ended with her mom, and the fact that he was obviously very much in love with his new lady. When she meets X and feels this connection she gives him such a hard time but they have to spend time together to build a connection for their dance competition that his spirit seeps into her soul.

Despite Evie’s heartbreak and anger I did like her, but out of the two X was the smooth charmer and easier to fall for. You could see how as they got closer she really wanted to believe love could last and people could be true to each other. Setting their romance in a story where ballroom dance was the power that bound them read so true. My husband and I took ballroom dance lessons many moons ago and to this day I still remember how connected I felt to him. You have to pay attention to your partners body to know where to step next. Knowing this I could see how X broke down Evie’s defenses. Add good looks and charm to the mechanics of learning the tango? Whew! She didn’t stand a chance.

I’ve liked all of the Nicola Yoon novels I’ve read. This reads slightly lighter than her others but I think if she wrote it during the pandemic she may have needed a subject matter that would be fun to write and for the readers magical to read. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* Instructions for Dancing

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

Friday YA: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

Halle has two personalities. Well, not really, but she does have two persona’s. She is everyday Halle who is going to start another new high school, this time while staying with her grandfather in Connecticut. She is also Kels who runs an online blog where she pairs cupcakes with book covers. Kels is much more bold and doesn’t have trouble expressing her thoughts and opinions and has a ton of online friends, including her best friend Nash. When Halle and her brother move in with her gramps and get ready to start school Halle comes face to face with her friend Nash except she doesn’t tell him that she’s Kels. She has every class with him and gets invited to sit with he and his friends at lunch and she’s terrified he will find out and be mad. Is it possible to have a love triangle when two of the people are yourself?

As a book blogger I thought One True Pastry and it’s concept totally cute. I loved the underlying story about the loss of her grandmother and how differently people handle grief. I thought Nash was adorable but thought Halle’s constant rejection of him painful. Of course, I was supposed to feel this way but if I were him I wouldn’t given up on her a long time ago. I loved her brother and his confused bi-sexuality and how to her he was just her brother regardless of how he identified. I liked Halle more than Kels because she had depth and wasn’t one dimensional like Kels. What I hated was the bashing back and forth of who should read YA. This one genre, of them all seems to have a reader identity crisis and this author tied into that. I thought it an interesting dialog within what should have been just another teen contemporary romance. It’s a dialog without a conclusion in real life, but it ran its course on these pages.

There is a reason to read ya novels, especially in the contemporary romance sub-genre. They are a quick escape from whatever is bothering you and typically contain very little depth. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of depth I found in What I Like About You. It held my interest and made me slow down and think. Think about loss, recovery, faith, best friends, love, friendship and family. What I Like About You was particularly insightful and despite my age being outside the target demo (come on, I had to say it!) I enjoyed it very much.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* What I Like About You

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

Friday YA: Love and Olives (Love and Gelato #3) by Jenna Evans Welch

Liv’s father left she and her mother to go back to Greece and search for the lost city of Atlantis. I know, it sounds crazy, right? Well, Live thinks so too. She’s so embarrassed by it that she hardly ever mentions him to her boyfriend. She has dropped the O-L and E from her name and re-invented herself as smooth and chic when underneath she’s rather a geek like her father. When she starts receiving post cards from him out of the blue it’s totally upsetting and she shoves them away physically and emotionally until her mother makes her accept an invitation by her father to visit him in Greece. A father that she hasn’t seen or spoken to in eight years. This unplanned vacation interrupts her plans for the summer and she starts off the trip resentful but she soon discovers life is a journey and sometimes the unexpected trip is the greatest journey of them all.

I have read all of the books in the Love & Gelato series and enjoyed the first two Love & Gelato and Love & Luck. I can say with all seriousness that Love & Olive is by far my favorite of this series. That the teen finding herself trope that this author has stuck with was fine tuned and wonderful making Olive and her father’s reunion an emotional and eye opening book. Her love interest Theo was pretty unexpectedly wonderful too.

First and foremost, yes, there is a great deal of hunting for the lost city of Atlantis. A tale that Olive and her father bonded over in her youth and something that Liv is totally cringing about now. BUT she still remembers all of those facts about this city and she finds herself being drawn into that story again. Her father brought her out to Greece to work on a project with him for National Geographic and as Olive and Theo run around following clues and getting b-roll she can’t help but think her father may be slightly delusional but well, maybe he’s onto something.

The majority of this story takes place on Santorini, and that island and setting are a character unto itself. The white buildings with painted blue roofs, the churches, the blue waters of the ocean surrounding it. In my mind it wasn’t such a bad place to be stuck for 10 days, especially with a father who so obviously loves her and with a charming, cute Greek boy. I think Olive starts to think the same thing. Of course, there is a bit of emotional trauma that rocks the boat, some sour searching Olive must do, but in the end with hard work Olive’s world turns out alright.

You do not have to read any of the previous books in this series before reading this novel, AT ALL. So if you are looking for a quick, fun vacation read please download, purchase the paperback, or borrow it from a friend. This one is charming, fun, and has an emotional kick that will surprise you. In this bloggers opinion Love & Olives is a five star read. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

Click this link to purchase this novel!* Love & Olives

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this novel through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

Friday YA: How to Fall Out of Love by Emily Martin

Aubrey’s parents do not get along. Always fighting, she’s been stuck in the middle wondering why they stayed married if they hated each other that much. When a new neighbor moves in next door Aubrey befriends him and Webster Casey becomes not only her second best friend, but she thinks they could be something more. Going out on a limb despite not believing in love Aubrey asks Webster to Homecoming but when the night comes he stands her up. When she finds out he’s at the dance she figures there was a misunderstanding and drives to meet him there just to be humiliated in public, destroying her hope that love actually does exist. Fast forward a year later and she meets this cute guy at a party who just happens to be Webster’s cousin AND Webster becomes her lab partner for a year. Does she take a chance again on love?

I liked this premise and Aubrey. I can remember also living in a house where my parents fought but unlike Aubrey I didn’t let their relationship taint all of my own. As the book starts a year after the incident Aubrey and Webster are NOT friends, in fact they go out of their way to antagonize each other. I was kind of surprised that she was willing to give his cousin Holland a shot because she was so down on romance. As her relationship with Holland progresses I was surprised that she tried so hard to not like him too much. In fact it became apparent that she wasn’t going to allow herself to really like anyone. This is when I started to get a little tired of her character. Aubrey was a big downer and it took her entirely too long to come face to face with her little problem.

At first I really didn’t like Webster. I mean he was not a very nice guy to Aubrey, and when I still cared about her character it was hard to overlook him standing her up. However, I quickly realized there might be a little more to this story. Aubrey had just too many problems. Granted, they were both pretty immature, hello they were in high school, but he seemed to be so much more together. He was bi, had come out to everyone at school, and seemed to have a good relationship with his mom and friends. Other than Aubrey. Needless to say there was another reason, which I won’t spoil for you all if you’d like to read this book.

Now, I will say the book wasn’t all bad. The story entertained me and I enjoyed some of the side characters. I also think there were some great lessons Aubrey learned by the end of the book that slightly redeemed her down on love attitude. For that reason I gave this novel a 3.0 rating. I never gave up on it despite it making me mad at times and I did like how the book ended. Do I think everyone will feel the same way I do? No. So, please, if this book looks good give it a shot and make your own judgement. ❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley from the publisher for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Five Ways to Fall Out of Love

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: You Have a Match by Emma Lord

When Abby sends her DNA in to one of those services to support her friend Leo who’s trying to find his family she doesn’t expect to get anything back but the normal ancestry results. Instead she unexpectedly finds out that she has a full blooded sister and she only lives across town. When she meets up with Savvy, she’s talked into heading off to summer camp to get to know this older sister she never knew she had and find out the story of how her parents gave up their first child.

After having read the ultra sweet first novel by Emma Lord titled Tweet Cute, I knew I’d read You Have a Match. This author’s style is very readable and her characters very identifiable. Abby is easily the girl next door whom we can all see a little bit of ourselves in, but this situation is something we’d only read in, well, a novel. Savvy’s personality is the complete opposite of Abby, an Instagram blogger with a huge following, Savvy is constantly looking for the best shot. Abby, too is looking for the best shot, but she takes pictures of wild life, and her best friend Leo has created an Instagram account and logged all of her best shots. She’s never even opened it up to take a look.

Abby had all of the usual high school problems including that one incident with her best friend Leo that turns their friendship into almost something more. That tension between them hangs over their heads through the entire novel in a will they or won’t they that didn’t get too tiring because of the larger story between Abby and Savvy. Ultimately, the romance was interrupted by a family drama that was oh so much more interesting. I liked how these kids handled their “adult” issues. Their actions didn’t seem so out of the norm for a normal teenager, yet was youthful enough where I didn’t feel like I was reading about adults in 16 year old bodies which was refreshing.

You Have a Match was not quite as cute as Tweet Cute but was a solid second novel. I’ll have to keep Emma Lord on my must read if she keeps putting out stories like her first two novels. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase! You Have a Match: A Novel

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (1/11/21)

This week has been more about watching the news than it’s been about reading but I did manage to finish one book and start another. Again, I’m sticking to romance novels where I’m guaranteed a happy ending because I still feel the need for that kind of resolution in my own world. 🙂

This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.

JUST FINISHED

This novels struck the right chord at the right time for me. I loved the characters, the feeling of family, and the love story. I’d recommend it completely should you be in the right mood for a romance!

JUST STARTED

I just started this novel but I have high hopes based on Emma Lord’s last novel Tweet Cute, which I thought was adorable. This is a YA contemporary novel and the characters seem interesting so far! I’ll let you know what I think.

What books are you reading this fine Monday? Please let me know in the comments below!

Have a great week and happy reading!

Deborah

This Chick Read: Smash It! by Francina Simone

Liv is tired of being afraid to take chances and after showing up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts and a hoodie she decides to go for it, have experiences, and change her life! First up is trying out for the school play, a hip-hop version of Othello. Scared to death, her two best friends Dré and Eli, also try out and the drama begins. Having two boys for best friends has led Liv to make the safe choices but when a cute boy in the play asks her out, she risks it all. How will this affect her feelings for her two friends? You’re going to have to read this charming un-putdown-able novel.

I’m not even lying. I stayed up until 1am on a work night reading this book. How Liv feels about herself is so relatable to 90% of the female population. She thinks she’s overweight, has bad hair, and isn’t cute when she’s the complete opposite! She’s fun, funny, a kick butt singer, can dance, is curvy, and should be a self confident young woman. When she tries out for this play and says yes to her first date a whole new world opens before her and her two friends take notice!

What can I say about Eli and Dré? They were totally different from each other, had real problems that added a nice bit of conflict to the story, and both loved Liv to death. Their friendship was one of my favorite things about this book, and despite their lives changing as they got older, they could all rely on each other. To a point. But what would a story be without a little drama, right?

This was a totally fun book, that felt real. I didn’t feel like a middle aged woman reading a teen novel. I felt like these kids anxiety’s are what people of any age feel on a daily basis. Their stories were relatable, their triangle was interesting, and each of their story arc’s read true. Despite your own age, Smash It! is a book that needs to be read. It may make you look differently at your own life, but if not, it will at least entertain you with their’s. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* Smash It!

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

* Amazon Associate- if you buy this book through the above link I may make a small stipend.

This Chick Read: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Taking place in the same neighborhood as The Hate You Give, wanna be rapper Bri, lives the dream of stardom in the hopes of helping her family’s circumstances. Following in her fathers footsteps in the Garden means walking between two worlds, gang and the Ring. Her father’s life ended early, being shot down by a rival gang but Bri is determined not to live that life despite living her dream of becoming a rapper.

Angie Thomas, through her storytelling again successfully gives the reader a look into two different worlds. Bri, lives in the Garden, her aunt a member of a gang, and her mother a recovering junkie, but the author gives us a contrasting look into what their lives can be. Bri’s brother has a college education and only comes back to live in the Garden to help support his family. Bri, herself, is bussed to a high school in a better area and doesn’t seek a life in the Garden and in fact is working really hard in trying to get her family out of it. The conflict in this novel comes from her being a teenager, and like a lot of teens, she doesn’t make the best choices. Her mouth often gets her into trouble and because of the color of her skin she’s racially profiled and treated pretty harshly by those in power around her.

“No matter where I’m at, keep an eye for police.

If they thinkin’ I’m suspicious, they ain’t trying to listen.

They’ll unload those mags, make me a hashtag.”

The poetry in Bri’s rapping tells a story of what her life is like, what it may look like, and what she hope’s it will look like. The story within this poetry was just as moving and eye opening as the story within the novel.

Bri’s Aunt Pooh, as a member of the GD’s takes on the role of protector and manager to Bri. One a role she’s willing to take on with a gun, the other a role she’s unsure how to maneuver. I thought her story in On The Come Up created the perfect contrast to Bri’s own struggle, as well as being the perfect example of why she wants to get out of that life so desperately.

Once I got into the rhythm of On the Come Up, I really enjoyed this story, and rooted for Bri to find her identity in a way that didn’t alter who she could be and even more importantly would want to be in the future. I loved her choice at the end of this book, it fit her character, and it made me want to read more and see her story continue. That’s the best way to end a book, isn’t it? ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* On the Come Up

Copyright 2020 the Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you should purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

Friday YA: Kind of a Big Deal by Shannon Hale

Josie Pie’s life peaked when she was in high school. Popular because of her gift for musical theater she dreamed of going on to become a big Broadway star. A dream that seemed all to real when her theater teacher got her an audition for a production in New York. Dropping out of high school to take that chance, Josie discovers that she may not be that big a deal as she thought. So, she escapes into books to live her life vicariously through the characters she reads and to forget about her own life’s problems.

When I read the synopsis about a girl who lives through the character’s she’s reading in books, I thought aha! Josie Pie may actually be a little like all of us voracious readers who try to escape their own realities by reading way too many books. However, Kind of a Big Deal took a twist in a direction I wasn’t expecting. This novel veers from ya contemporary into a ya fantasy, where as she lives each life, it becomes harder for her to leave the novel. Of course there are reasons for this that I can’t go into in this review, but it’s an interesting twist that may have saved this novel from being a little too safe.

Like a lot of teenage girls, Josie is a very self-centered character. To be fair, she’s self-centered because she has so many insecurities and a rather unhappy home life, but she has a LOT of things to work through in this novel. What I like the best is how each character she becomes gives her strength and allows her to see how she’s taken for granted all the people who supported her in the past, but she’s figuring out that part of becoming an adult is facing your past mistakes, owning up to them, and making the decision to improve yourself moving forward. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but this author does so in an original way that’s very entertaining.

Shannon Hale has produced a novel that skirts two genre’s but stays true to the lesson she’s trying to teach the reader. Growing up is hard! Being an adult does not mean that you know what the heck you’re doing and that you never make a mistake. We learn lessons throughout our lives and unfortunately have to keep owning up to our mistakes. It’s easy to escape into a book and living out happily ever after over and over again, but real life is about owning up to your decisions, making the best of them, and hopefully being happy while you’re doing that. Josie Pie may have been Kind of a Big Deal, but there’s more to life than high school, and you just have to keep on living it to see what’s next to come. If you like a mix of fantasy and reality in your young adult reading, I think you’ll like how Shannon Hale chose to deliver this lesson in Kind of a Big Deal. ❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* Kind of a Big Deal

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you should purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.