Review: Something Like Gravity (Amber Smith)

Something Like Gravity
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderry Books
Genre: YA, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC an is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?


The minute I heard Amber Smith was releasing another book, I knew I wanted to read it. I have been obsessed with her writing ever since I read The Way I Used To Be when it was released. Her stories are so beautiful and heart wrenching. She takes tough topics and dives in deep. I felt so emotionally touched by her first two releases. I couldn’t wait to start Something Like Gravity.

Something Like Gravity touched on a topic I haven’t read before. Chris being transgender was something I haven’t come across in any contemporary YA romance before. It was very interesting to me, but I cannot tell you whether or not the representation was done appropriately. I hope Chris’ thoughts about his body and feelings he had about everything were done in the best way possible because I can see them being easy to relate to. I also liked his thought process when it came to Maia and his interactions with her.

While I felt like Chris, his story, and his relationships with everyone were important and interesting, the rest of the book kind of bored me. Remember that boring summer you had at your grandparents’/aunt’s/uncle’s growing up? This book had that vibe. It’s set in a small town during the sleepy days of summer. I had to really push myself to read it. Almost everything Chris and Maia did was boring. And Maia…

Well, Maia is where the book lost me. Her point of view didn’t delve as deep as Chris’. She was grieving her sister’s death, her parents’ divorce, and a change in herself. I don’t feel like I got the nitty-gritty on any of those things. Everything with her felt surface level. I was missing something in some of her thoughts and actions. It’s not often I say this, but Something Like Gravity would have been better with only one point of view. I would have been more interested in hearing everything from Chris’ point of view.

Something Like Gravity had a lot of potential. It was written by a talented writer. There was a main character who was unique and had some experiences I was truly curious to find out more about. It just didn’t hit me on the emotional level it could have. It was still a good read, and I know there are going to be readers who it hits home with.

Review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Love Songs & Other Lies
Author: Jessica Pennington
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.


Every so often I read a tweet or blog post by someone wanting a young adult novel set in college. Love Songs & Other Lies might just fit the bill for those people. It’s set in two different time periods. The present is the summer after Vee and Cameron’s freshman year in college when they are 19 years old. Vee has been conned into touring with Cameron and the rest of her friends in the band. That wouldn’t be so horrible if Vee and Cameron hadn’t had a rocky break up a couple of years ago. The second is when they’re seniors in high school. That part is the story of how Vee and Cam got together and then fell apart. The mix of these two ages give the book a not quite YA but also not quite NA feeling. It’s actually a really great mix of the two genres.

It’s not very often you get a second chance romance in YA. Normally, there’s several a break up spanning several years before the characters get back together. I like that Vee and Cam didn’t have to wait that long. Both of Vee and Cam’s love stories were good. I liked getting to know how their relationship began, ended, and then began again. I also liked their individual back stories and how it affected their relationship. They were great characters.

I only had one problem with it all. The story started out great. I was instantly drawn into Vee and Cam’s lives. I was invested in their characters within a short period of time — in the present. I liked what was happening in the past, but I got frustrated with how slowly that part unraveled. What it comes down to is that Love Stories & Other Lies didn’t give me what happened in the past quickly enough for me to know why I should want Cam and Vee together. Their original love story was still unfolding — way too slowly and almost boring. I needed to know what the problem was so that I could root for them to get back together.

Once everything was out in the open, I was back to being entranced with the story. I loved the last third of the book. I felt like I was back in my YA summer contemporary happy place. I could forgive the moments of boredom in the middle because everything turned out exactly right. I gave it 4 stars because by the time I finished reading it, I was in love with Love Songs & Other Lies. 

Outspoken

Outspoken by Lora Richardson

Publication Date: Agust 18, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Synopsis:

One thing Penny has never been in life is outspoken. She’s always gone with the flow and done what everyone wanted her to do. Others’ opinions have always mattered more than her own. But that’s going to change.

Penny’s going to spend her summer before (maybe) going to college at the beach in South Carolina. She’s going to leave her seven siblings and Montana hometown behind. She’s using checking up on her elderly grandfather as her excuse, but in reality Penny wants to break away from the person she was before. For once in her life, she’s going to be the person she wants to be. Penny’s going to be outspoken.

Just as Penny’s starting to gain her independence, she meets Archer. Everyone tells her to avoid him, but Penny feels drawn to him. While Penny’s trying to be her own person, she can’t help but worry about Archer’s opinion. Will her worrying about what Archer thinks be the end to her new life? Will she continue to be outspoken or will she revert to the girl who simply goes with the flow?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Outspoken is a coming of age tale. It’s set in that time in life when a young adult is trying to find themselves and their voice. Penny’s no longer a child, but she’s not sure how to be an adult and stand up for herself yet.

Outspoken is one of those books that is harder for me to review. While I loved the story and writing, I disliked the main character Penny. She rubbed me the wrong way. I know she was trying to be truthful, but her delivery was lacking finesse. Everything that came out of her mouth was so negative. I know she was striving to speak her mind, but if she was a new friend of mine, our friendship wouldn’t last long. She never seemed like she even wanted to hang out with her new friends, Gwen and Marissa. She needed to learn giving in to spend time with her friends didn’t always equate to giving up a piece of herself. But that’s part of what this story was about, so I feel bad complaining! Penny was just trying to find her voice.

Despite my dislike for Penny, I did enjoy the storyline. I liked how she set out on her own to discover herself. What she was going through was very relatable. And Penny did have her redeeming moments. I could see a glimpse of the sweet person she was when she went above and beyond to help the people she met through her job at the grocery store. I also loved the way she wanted to take care of her grandfather, Cal. My favorite Penny was the person she was when she was with Archer. She seemed to find a happy medium when she was with him. She wasn’t quite as negative but she also didn’t lose herself in him. I wanted to read more of this Penny.

What I enjoyed most about Outspoken was the cast of supporting characters. I loved them all! Gwen and Marissa were a ton of fun. Archer was the silent, brooding “bad boy” with a lot of depth. All of Penny’s grocery delivery customers were interesting and added a ton of dimension to the story. Penny’s family seemed really fun, too. I would have liked to read more about them and their relationships with each other. I have a feeling they would have been a hilarious bunch.

So while I didn’t always enjoy Penny, I did always enjoy the story. I thought it was a great YA coming of age story about a girl on the path to adulthood trying to find herself. I think this book would be highly beneficial for young adults going through that time in their lives to read.

**I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Escape in You

Escape in You (Escape #1) by Rachel Schurig

Publication Date: October 2, 2013

Synopsis:

Zoe Janes’ life sucks. Partying with her friends and vodka is the only way she can cope. It’s the only way thing keeping her from succumbing to her horrible home life.

When Zoe meets bad boy Jet Taylor at a party, she can’t help but be attracted to him. Brooding, muscular, and tattooed, he’s everything Zoe loves in a hook up. And it’s clear to Zoe that Jet’s not the type of guy to fall in love. He’s just like her — looking for a little fun, an escape.

Despite agreeing to keep things casual, things keep getting deeper and deeper between Zoe and Jet. The more time they spend together, the more they worry about the fun ending. Neither one of them is willing to admit they might just want more than “fun.” But both Zoe and Jet are trapped by a pasts that might make a future together impossible.


My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


To quote Zoe and Jet, Escape in You was “boring-ass normal”. By that, I don’t mean the book was boring. It wasn’t by any means. I found it to be a fast-paced, easy read. Escape in You was just so typical of a NA romance. You have your two main characters, Zoe and Jet, that are tragically broken. They both have mommy issues, drink to drown their sorrows and avoid romance. Of course, they connect in a way that makes life better for each of them. It’s a pretty standard NA book, right? I was hoping for more. I kept waiting for a “WOW!” moment. I didn’t ever really get it.

I feel bad because all of that sounds negative. I don’t mean for it to sound like the book wasn’t good. It was. The writing was great and I enjoyed reading it. I will probably read the sequel about Ellie and Fred because I’m truly interested in seeing where the characters go. There just wasn’t anything in Escape in You that stood out to me to make it phenomenal. Like I said, it was typical.

I would recommend Escape in You to NA readers that enjoy bad-ass characters falling in love and saving each other in the process.

Other books in this series:

Tales of a Book Bag: Rimrock Lake, WA

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A couple of weeks ago, I started my new blog feature, Tales of a Book BagTales of a Book Bag is a quick look at places my book bag has been.

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Last weekend, my book bag took another fun camping/boating trip. This time it was to Rimrock Lake. Rimrock Lake is in the Wenatchee National Forest, on U.S. Hwy 12 about 10 miles from White Pass. It’s a man-made lake that was formed when the Tieton Dam was built on the Tieton River to provide irrigation to the Yakima Valley.

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Rimrock Lake is one of my favorite places to camp. It’s simply beautiful. We camp at The Rimrock Lake Resort. It’s quiet, clean, well kept and has free showers. There are both tent and RV sites and a dock you can rent slips in to tie up your boat. Our kids love the swim area.  It’s perfect for bringing your floaties and lounging in the water.

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If you’re into camping, boating or fishing in Washington, I would highly suggest planning a trip to Rimrock Lake. It’s about two and half hours from Seattle. The drive is beautiful and goes quickly.

Summer Reading

Guess what?!? My library has an adult summer reading program! Yes, one for adults! I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

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Yesterday, I took my kiddo to the library to check out some Nate the Great books for her to read for the Pierce County Library‘s summer reading program, Every Hero has a Story. At 7, this is the first year she’s really been able to read for the program on her own. It’s been really cool. She loves reading and is so happy to be able to read by herself. I was expecting it to be a chore to get her to sit down and do it this summer, but it’s been surprisingly easy. I also think the prospect of earning three prizes this summer helps.

Anyway. Back to the library. When we were there, my daughter noticed there was a summer reading program for adults,too. She knows I love to read and was so excited that I could read to earn prizes just like her. I have to admit I was excited, too! What an awesome way for a parent to show a child how much fun it is to read! And I love that it’s got the same super hero theme, but the title Escape the Ordinary. So cool! Of course, I immediately signed up. I’m going to have those prizes in like two weeks! ?