April Debuts & Mini Reviews

Do y’all ever scroll through NetGalley and go oh, this looks interesting! So does this! Wow, I can’t wait to read this! and all of a sudden, you’ve requested 2837 ARCs? Sure, the odds of getting approved for even 50% of them are slim at best but hoo boy, when you DO get approved, it’s in batches of 3, with the same publication date for every book! At least, that’s what seems to be happening to me, because I am apparently simultaneously blessed and cursed? I guess?

I was struggling to figure out how to give these books the attention they deserve – on one hand, I just don’t have the time or the space on the blog schedule to post separate, full length reviews, but on the other hand, I’m still working on the guilt that comes with not posting a review for a book I specifically requested an ARC for. As it is, this is a compromise that I”m proud of and that might be a recurring format on the blog. So, without further ado, I give you April Debuts & Mini Reviews!

Many thanks to NetGalley and the respective publishers for providing me ARCs of these books All opinions expressed are my own.

Title: The Perfect Escape

Author: Suzanne Park

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Contemporary, romance

Age Range: YA

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Cute and ~quirky~, The Perfect Escape is one of those reads that you finish in one sitting and go wait, is it already 2 AM? The book follows Nate Kim and Kate Anderson, who are polar opposites. Nate is a highly driven, overly qualified scholarship student at a renowned prep school while Kate is looking for a way to pursue the theater that she loves under the strict watch of her emotionally distant and controlling father. They both need the money they could win from this zombie survival competition for vastly different reasons, but the common theme is the need to escape.

The Perfect Escape has a bunch of coined “mom jokes” that made me snort unexpectedly – my favorite had to be the Pokemom one. I should’ve expected some cheesy-in-the-best-way jokes from this, especially since the title is a pun itself. Despite their differences, Nate and Kate make a great team, in the competition and outside of it, but what made The Perfect Escape really shine was the exploration of money and how it affects families. I’d recommend this one to anyone who’s a fan of zombies, puns, and a little healthy competition.

Links for The Perfect Escape

Barnes and Noble | BooksaMillion | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Add it on Goodreads!

Title: The Lucky Ones

Author: Liz Lawson

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Contemporary, fiction

Age Range: YA

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of gun violence, PTSD, substance/alcohol abuse, death, depression, panic attacks

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Powerful and raw, The Lucky Ones depicts the reality that so many teens face today, where they are either honored during assemblies that also act as memorials, or they are now known as the ones lucky enough to survive a school shooting. May McGintee is one of the latter, and she can’t figure out why. Out of everyone in the band room that day, including her twin brother Jordan, she’s the only one that made it out alive, and eleven months later, she’s still not sure how to keep on living. Meanwhile, Zach Teller has been suffering in silence since his mother decided to defend the shooter that killed May’s brother. Everyone at school shuns him, and every day Zach’s resentment towards his mother grows. Conor is the only friend that Zach has left, and he gets dragged to band practice the same day that May’s friend Lucy manages to convince her to accompany her as she auditions for a band. Zach and May meet, and it’s the catalyst they both need to wonder if just surviving is good enough.

This book tore me to pieces and stitched me back up in that I read it in one sitting and cried my way through the last 60 pages. I remember what it was like in high school, to do active shooter drills, and the one time we thought that it wasn’t a drill. The Lucky Ones handles grief and survivor’s guilt in a way that makes you wonder how people can possibly be desensitized to school shootings. It’s a specific kind of validation and reassurance and support that teenagers shouldn’t need in an ideal world, but that they do need in the world we live in. At the same time, The Lucky Ones holds nothing back when it comes to the all-consuming, devastating grief that comes in the wake of a school shooting in a way that I think everyone needs to confront. It’s extremely apparent that Liz Lawson wrote this with the utmost case and respect, and she delivers a poignant, gut-wrenching book that is in a league of its own. Due to the subject matter, I understand that there are definitely people who simply can’t read this book for the sake of their well-being, but I highly encourage everyone else to pick up a copy, because we need to be talking about this.

Links for The Lucky Ones

Barnes and Noble | BooksaMillion | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Add it on Goodreads!

Title: What I Like About You

Author: Marisa Kanter

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: Contemporary, romance

Age Range: YA

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What I Like About You follows Halle as she moves to Middleton, Connecticut to live with her widower grandpa and younger brother while her parents shoot a movie in a different country. Online, she’s sweet and sassy baker/YA book blogger Kels Roth, who just so happens to be online BFFs with fellow blogger and aspiring artist Nash Stevens. IRL? She’s Halle Levitt, awkward and anxious granddaughter of legendary editor Miriam Levitt. And Halle just so happens to meet Nash in the YA section of the library as soon as she gets to Middleton. She recognizes him immediately, but he doesn’t connect her with Kels. Panicking as her worlds collide, Halle misses her chance to tell him the truth – and keeps on finding reasons not to.

I did appreciate a lot of aspects of the book, but I could not get over the multiple times Halle has the perfect opportunity to reveal her identity to Nash and…doesn’t. Listen. On some levels, I get it. I get the anxiety that comes along with the pressure to live up to the wit and self-assuredness that often comes easier online than it does offline. But on the other hand, I think there comes a point when you have to think about the very real people that your actions are affecting. Luckily for Halle, her younger brother Ollie is constantly there to give her a good dose of reality, but without him…well, I don’t know. While Halle is a complex and and layered and likable protagonist, her actions and her rationale make my feelings about her as complicated as the situation she creates for herself.

I do, however, think that Halle and What I Like About You represent the YA book blogging community in a way that I personally haven’t read before. I was rooting for her despite myself. What I Like About You is messy, but maybe that’s the beauty of it, and I think that it has the potential to resonate deeply with the right kind of reader – that reader just isn’t me.

Links for What I Like About You

Barnes and Noble | BooksaMillion | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Add it on Goodreads!

April 7th is going to have some amazing company in terms of debuts, if you ask me – especially with The Lucky Ones in the midst. Whatever my rating, these books were what I needed to end March and start April with. Books have always been, and will continue to be, the only things that can get me completely out of my own head, if only for a few hours, whether they’re lighthearted contemporaries or richly woven fantasies. These debuts were the right mix for me with everything that’s been going on, and I hope that we can help you find the right mix through the blog.

Remember to take care of and love yourselves the way you love your shelves.

Love always,

6 thoughts on “April Debuts & Mini Reviews

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