Even though our library is closed to patrons right now due to coronavirus, I’m thankful that we still have access to plenty of audiobooks and eBooks through Hoopla and Overdrive. YA RomComs have become my gardening companions these days.
In May we ran toward the finish line with homeschooling (did you know we were homeschoolers?) and even made a trip to the beach, which is where I got to soak in a few books. Lots of YA and books about books (ah, *sigh*) with a side of historical fiction and fantasy. Basically, the variety of my tastes wrapped up in one month of reading!
What I love: Tweet Cute is….super cute. Tweet Cute is a friends to lovers to enemies then back to friends to lovers story. Witty banty, food blogs, Twitter wars, growing and learning and apologizing. I loved that each character grew and then there was the added element of how social media plays into the teens lives. And Pepper’s on the swim team! And they play waterpolo with the diving team (Jack), which as a former high school swimmer, is fun to see because we did that. Though those are small parts of the story they’re fun to see.
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
What to read next: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
The Bookworm Crush
What I love: The Bookworm Crush is summery, bookish, RomCom…it’s like a YA love letter to #bookstagram.
Shy bookworm Amy McIntyre is about to compete for the chance to interview her favorite author, who hasn’t spoken to the press in years. The only way to win is to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, but that level of confidence has never come easy.
The solution? A competition coach. The problem? The best person for the job is the guy she’s secretly crushing on…local surfer celebrity Toff Nichols.
He’s a player. He’s a heartthrob. He makes her forget basic things, like how to breathe. How can she feel any confidence around him?
To her surprise, Toff agrees to help. And he’s an excellent teacher. Amy feels braver—maybe even brave enough to admit her feelings for him. When their late night practices become less about coaching and more about making out, Amy’s newfound confidence wavers.
But does Toff really like her or is this just another lesson?
What to read next: Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell
The Scribe of Siena
What I love: The Scribe of Siena was hands down my favorite book of May. Time travel, history, the plague, academic women doing their thing, romance, friendship, mystery, time travel (did I mention time travel?), the struggle of finding place–it’s all there. It’s a longer read (or listen), but well worth the time.
Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.
As Beatrice explores the evidence further, she uncovers the journal and paintings of the fourteenth-century artist Gabriele Accorsi. But when she finds a startling image of her own face, she is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague.
Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love—not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.
The Scribe of Siena is the captivating story of a brilliant woman’s passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap—testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love.
What to read next: Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella
What I love: Beach Read definitely lived up to the hype! I loved the peek at the (fictional) authors’ writing process, the conversation on how women’s fiction is even a genre, the slow burn, (almost) hate to love romance (I love Gus and January’s shared backstory), the talk of differences in genre (literary fic + women’s fic), and January’s resolve: “I’m still standing.”
Finally, I love how Beach Read will most likely be labeled “women’s fiction” but it does what I love best about the genre: it tells a complicated story of people and life and pain with growth and love and hope. And if there’s a happily ever after…or a happily for now, then so be it. A story is not belittled by hope.
“If you swapped out all my Jessicas for Johns, do you know what you’d get? Fiction. Just fiction. Ready and willing to be read by anyone, but somehow by being a woman who writes about women, I’ve eliminated half the Earth’s population from my potential readers, and you know what? I don’t feel ashamed of that. I feel pissed.”
– January in Beach Read
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
What to read next: The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan
All the Stars and Teeth
What I love: Pirates, mermaids, rethinking what you’ve always known to be true, justice. Even with all that All the Stars and Teeth wasn’t all I was expecting it to be. It was, in the end, another princess goes on an adventure to save her kingdom story, which are prolific right now. I’ll still read the sequel, because I’m interested enough to find out what happens, but it wasn’t as compelling or interesting as I had hoped.
She will reign.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer―the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder―and more peril―than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stowaway she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.
What to read next: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
The Court of Miracles
What I love: The Court of Miracles chronicles the complicated underworld of Paris years after the failed revolution (an alternative historical timeline!). The Court of Miracles is made up of the Wretched—the poor, castaways, and varied ethnic groups—who work through an underground network of guilds and their own set of laws to stay alive in a world that exists to benefit the French aristocracy and ignoring the hunger and needs of everyone else.
It was a good, fast paced, intriguing read with a large cast of characters (that was sometimes hard to keep track of) full of thievery and secrets. It’s a story of loyalty, love, and the determination to protect ones own.
If you enjoy Les Misérables, you’ll enjoy The Court of Miracles. There are strands of the stories throughout with familiar faces (there are characters named Javert, Eponine, Cosette, Valjean, Thénardier), but TCOM is it’s own story.
I also found it interesting that there really was a Court of Miracles in Paris, but it was the slum districts of Paris “where the unemployed migrants from rural areas resided” and the people of the court “were thought to have organized a counter-society devoted to crime and thievery with its own hierarchy and institutions.” So interesting!
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
What to read next: A Song of Wraiths and Ruins by Roseanne A. Brown