Friday YA: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Megan is the girl who will be voted Biggest Flirt in the year book, and she’s OK with that. Her last boyfriend dumped her for her best friend, and she’s ok with that too. In fact, every guy she’s ever hooked up with has left her and immediately found THE one. She thinks that’s what her role in life is supposed to be, but then Megan unexpectedly lands the role of Juliet in the school play and she discovers maybe she does have it in her to be the leading lady.

Always Never Yours seemed like a lighthearted romp through a high school romance, but Megan was actually a lot more complex a character than I thought I was getting from reading this synopsis. By having flirtations instead of relationships, Megan was protecting her heart. Her parents split and her father’s new family had done a number on her belief in love and truthfully, her taste in guys was pretty bad, so they were always cementing her belief that love was just not for her.

If it wasn’t for Owen I’d wonder if these authors had never met a teenaged boy who wasn’t driven by their hormones. OK, yeah all teenage boys are driven by their hormones, even Owen, but at least he had a brain as well as some morals. He was inspired by Megan’s being so casual about being “the girl before”. The comparison to Rosalind, Romeo’s “girl before” Juliet, I thought, was inspiring. How does that girl go on to find her own love story? Well, if you read Always Never Yours, you’ll find out.


Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“I guess, in the end, I’d recommend this book if you were a theater kid and you want a nostalgic look back at those days. I don’t know that I’d necessarily recommend it as a romance, but you could certainly do worse if you’re looking for a quick summer read.” The Bibliophagist

“Always Never Yours is a cute YA contemporary story, and while there’s more to this book than meets the eye it is still a little predictable in places. Still this is a perfect read for an afternoon when you have nothing else to do (or read) and Megan is a character you can’t help but root for.” Reading Every Night

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Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

Friday YA: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Slight Spoilers Ahead.

“Don’t live to please the starfish, especially when their happiness is at the expense of yours. That is not love. That is narcissism. There’s an entire ocean out there, Kiko–swim in it.”

Kiko Himura has a narcissistic mother who has consistently beaten down her self confidence until she can only see herself through her mother’s eyes. Her only escape is through her art, something that she excels at and enjoys. Against her mothers wishes she applies to Prism, an art school, and sets all of her hopes and dreams upon getting in.

Despite her social anxiety Kiko’s best friend Emery talks her into going to a party where she runs into Jamie, the boy who was her best friend from childhood. He and his family had moved to California and their friendship had not survived the distance. Pretty quickly their friendship resumed but Jamie could see that this Kiko was not the same happy, friendly girl he had left behind years ago.

OK, I’ll be honest. This was a really difficult novel for me to read. Knowing a little bit about narcissistic relationships I recognized those signs immediately. However, my own relationship was not desperate and hurtful as Kiko’s was, but I could feel her pain because it easily could have been. It’s hard to read about a subject that is familiar and see that character take a different path than your own. I’ll admit that I was really frustrated with Kiko. I wanted her to be immediately stronger than she was but found the patience to keep reading because I wanted to see if she found her happy ending.

Jamie was just wonderful. As soon as he saw Kiko again he knew they were meant to be together. He was infinitely patient and old beyond his years, but then his household had it’s own difficulties. His treatment of this girl who was obviously fragile was to lend her his strength and the knowledge that despite everything he would be there for her, in whatever manner she desired. That is true love.

Although this was a difficult read for me, I did enjoy how the author slowly gave Kiko strength and through that she found her own self. I loved that.


Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“I think the emotional journey of the characters was the strength of this book; I definitely had a lot of feelings about Kiko and her relationship with her family and her heritage, the latter important because of her mother’s constant undermining of the value of it. I got to the end and was just… emosh. And like I said, I thought the way the romance was handled was really important and sensitive.” Miriam Joy Reads

“I loved the way this story was written, with stunning descriptions that really sparked my imagination. All the descriptions of Kiko’s art actually made me want to start painting again, which I haven’t really done in years. All in all, this book was gripping, emotional, dark, emotional and hopeful. I really liked it, and will definitely be reading future books by this author.” Reading Sanctuary

Click this link to purchase!*Starfish

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

Friday YA: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Addie and her brother Ian, only 15 months apart, have always been best siblings. You know, best friends except for the fact they are brother and sister, however currently Ian is super pissed at Addie. She has done something and he wants her to tell their mother before she finds out from someone else. Addie refuses. In Ireland for a wedding, Addie and her brother Ian continue this argument and fall down the side of a cliff. At a wedding. Her mother is at her wits end wanting to see the relationship between her two kids repaired, so she ships them off to Italy to visit with Addie’s friend Lina. Ian has other plans, and Addie, not wanting to be left behind is an unwanted visitor on a road trip around Ireland, hosted by Ian’s online friend Rowan.

Secrets between siblings, especially close ones, never turn out well. Addie’s secret had to do with a summer romance gone wrong which will be embarrassing to face, but Ian’s secret is a life altering change. When Addie finds out why they are traveling around Ireland she realizes that this brother that she loves so much has a secret life, and that she may not have known him as well as she thought.

Rowan, as the Irish lad who owns the car they are traveling in, also has his own little bit of personal drama. When Addie finds a travel guide for a broken heart in their hotel, Rowan decides that his heart could use a little mending as well. The two of them bond over their heartbreaks, and he also helps her see who Ian really is. Love & Luck wasn’t a very intriguing or even very dramatic story, but it’s message about family and loving someone for who they are and not who you think they are was well played.

Addie was your typical teen who doesn’t want to face up to her mistakes, but she grows up a lot by the end of the book. Rowan was a sweet guy, the perfect foil for Ian and Addie’s sibling antics. The romance between the two of them was only hinted at as the plot was about growing up and facing the consequences of your actions. Ian was my favorite character by far. He was the big surprise of the book, and in my mind should’ve been the main protagonist. His journey was the more interesting of  the two and a big lesson in not judging a book by it’s cover.

If you are looking for a light, easy to read YA contemporary novel, this is a solid hit and would be a great vacation read, especially if you have a trip planned to Ireland. I actually bought Love & Gelato last year because I had a trip planned to Italy, where it is set, but never got around to reading it. Now that I’ve tested the waters with this author (and those characters showed up in this book) I may move it onto my summer vacation reading list this year instead! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Love & Luck

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Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small stipend if you purchase through clicking the above link.

Friday YA: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Louna is working her final summer before she goes off to college as an assistant in her mothers bridal planning business. Growing up in the midst of bridal madness has given her a rather jaded view of true love and the one relationship she’d had ended tragically. When she spots Ambrose, the gorgeous son of a client, she distantly notes his looks but is disgusted with his laissez faire attitude towards life as she has to reign him in to walk his mother down the aisle. He is a fly in the ointment of her life, and she is the challenge he is determined to win. When her mother hires him for the summer, Louna’s animosity towards Ambrose disappears but she is still afraid to let go and live.

Once and for All took me on a journey into a world of love, loss and friendship. Louna’s one and only love ended abruptly and because she never had the chance to conclude this teenage love she doesn’t know how to move on. When she meets Ambrose she is just disgusted by his good looks, charm, and easy goingness (is that a word?). However, she soon begins to admire that same casual charm. The same things that aggravate  her day to day he seems to deal with effortlessly and with a smile on his face. Finally, of course, women LOVE him. He dates multiple women at a time and Louna only goes out when dragged and set up by her best friend. Then one day, standing in line to get coffee, they make a bet. She needs to become a serial dater and he needs to have a relationship for seven weeks. Winner gets to pick the next date for the loser.

I liked so many things about this story! We take a parallel journey with Louna as she remembers her previous boyfriend and as she starts to live her life again dating. The use of flashbacks effectively delivered the color of Louna’s emotions in the past as a direct contrast to the dull gray emotional world she is living in now. As she learns to move on her world slowly builds in color until Bam! she realizes how she truly feels about Ambrose and how wonderful life is while living it fully. It was very deftly done, and a really enjoyable novel to read.

I want to talk Ambrose for a minute. Did anyone else really dislike him for the first two thirds of the book? I’ll admit, when I started reading I didn’t read the synopsis so I wasn’t sure he was her love interest. It took me a long while to see through that persona into the depths of him. Once I looked hard, I understood where the book was going and then read the synopsis to make sure I was right. Yep! But, I’ll admit I was worried!

There were some other great characters in this book. I loved William, the gay father figure with a spine of steel, her best friend Jilly the oldest sister and wrangler to a million little brothers and sisters, and her mom who went through her own metamorphosis right along with her daughter. I understand why this book touched the hearts of so many people and received great reviews. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Once and For All

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Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

Friday YA: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry eyes weaves the story of Zorie and Lennon. Two ex best friends who decided to take their relationship to the next level. Sounds pretty simple, right? It should be but family drama, miscommunication, and teenage emotions cause Zorie and Lennon’s relationship to shift from young love to not speaking. When the two of them get stranded camping they find their way out of the wilderness and back into each others hearts. I read very few teen romances but this story was very well done and I was intrigued by all of the different aspects of these characters. Zorie and Lennon were as unique as their names and Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes an intelligently written vehicle for their story.

This was my first Jenn Bennett novel and was rather surprised by the adult subject matter. Lennon has been raised by two moms who own an adult sex shop. As wild and crazy as that may sound the scenes in the shop were subtle yet filled with humor. Most of the early emotional drama came from Zorie’s father who hates Lennon and his parents. As the novel goes on we are clued into the why’s and wherefore’s but in the beginning this hatred seems filled with bigotry.  Zorie’s emotional growth is displayed by the way she deals with her father and his irrational anger and marital problems with her step mother. Also, I feel I should give a warning, the teens in this book are all sexually active which I guess is not uncommon today but I found myself trying to double check their ages a couple of times. At times I forgot I was reading a YA novel, so if you have kids, be aware of the adult content.

Lennon was a perfect blend of nerdy cool. He had two moms, worked in a snake shop and had a b-level rock star for a father. What’s not to like? Even though the novel was written from Zorie’s perspective you could feel Lennon’s emotions and really identify with his character. I can totally see YA readers being easily captivated by him.

I really enjoyed this novel in large part because of all of the surprises revealed through the story, but also because of the unique setting. Most of the novel takes place while Zorie and Lennon are hiking through the wilderness. Seeing nature and the night’s sky through their Starry Eyes almost made me want to pack a bag and a book and go on a hike. Almost. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Starry Eyes

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Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small stipend if you purchase through the above link.