Thursday, August 6, 2020

#AmReading YA

All Our Worst Ideas

Vicky Skinner
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When Amy, on her way to becoming valedictorian of her graduating class and getting accepted to her dream school, gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she takes a job at a record store to ease the pain. She needs a distraction, badly.

Oliver, Amy’s record store co-worker, isn’t so sure about Amy—his complete opposite—but what he is sure of is his decision not to go to college. He just can’t figure out how to tell his mother.

As they work late-night shifts at the record store, Amy and Oliver become friends and then confidantes and then something more, but when Amy has a hard time letting go of what she thought was her perfect future with her ex, she risks losing the future she didn’t even know she wanted with Oliver.
Amy had been on the road to Stanford for years now. She just needed to lock up the valedictorian spot and win a generous scholarship. Oliver was taking a gap year, because he didn't feel college was in his future. Though they had very different goals and were on divergent paths, they are brought together by their love of music, and may find they are actually a perfect match. 

I have enjoyed Skinner's other two novels, but this one, this was my FAVORITE! It's a full-blown love story, where two people find that "someone". The person who accepts them, supports them, and offers them unconditional love. I was expecting to be swept away by the romance, but didn't expect the beauty and the depth of this union to touch my heart the way it did. 

I feel like I was supposed to see this as an opposite-attracts situation, but in reality, Amy and Oli had quite a few things in common. Both came from families that were complicated though loving. They were also surrounded by people, who expected them to be something or someone they couldn't be. Their situations just reinforced how wonderful it was that they were able to find their "person", the one who welcomed them as-is. They didn't want to change them or make them into something else, they simply wanted them. It's easy to lose sight of how important that is sometimes, and I was so happy with the way Skinner explored this side of a relationship. 

Obviously, I was a super fan of Amy+Oliver, but I loved many other things about this story. I am going to be upfront with you -- I was all about those Empire Records vibes. Though the record store staff in the book was much smaller, it still had that quality of family and "my people" that made me want to get a job there. 

It was the combination of music, friendship, drama, and romance which endeared this book to my heart. It was being able to accompany Amy and Oliver on their personal journeys, as well as getting the opportunity to see them slowly fall in love. And as if that wasn't enough, Skinner gave me everything I needed with that ending. Thank you! Thank you, Vicky Skinner! All Our Worst Ideas filled my head with music and my heart with joy. 

Girl From Nowhere

Tiffany Rosenhan
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Action & Adventure
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Red Sparrow meets One of Us Is Lying in this action-packed, romance-filled YA debut about a girl trying to outrun her past.

Ninety-four countries. Thirty-one schools. Two bullets. Now it’s over...or so she thinks.

Sophia arrives in Montana with the promise of a normal high school experience. But after a turbulent few years abroad with her diplomat parents, forgetting the past is easier said than done. After all, “normal” high schoolers aren’t trained in several forms of combat.

Then Sophia meets Aksel and finds herself opening up in ways she never thought she could. Except Sophia’s past is about to catch up with her, and she must confront who she really is, why she was betrayed, and what she is capable of in the name of love and survival.

Full of heart-stopping action and breathtaking romance, this cinematic debut features a girl willing to risk everything to save the life she built for herself.
Sophia had spent time in a myriad of countries all over the world, but now, with her parents' retirement, she would finally have a place to call home. Just as she was settling into her new life in Montana, danger came calling again, but she wasn't ready to give up being a "regular" teen just yet. 

This was a perfect escape for me! It was the break from reality I needed, and I found myself totally absorbed in Sophia's life or death trials. More often than not, I can be found reading a contemporary novel, therefore, I was quite surprised by how much I relished this action packed tale. 

I was truly fascinated by Sophia, her parents, and the lives they led. All the places they had live, the languages they spoke, and the plethora of skills they acquired all interested me. Reading about their training, and seeing that know-how in action was a thrill. Car chases, explosions, gun fights, and narrow escapes filled the pages, and I found myself devouring it all. 

It didn't hurt, that there was a rather sweet and adorable romance built into the story either. Sophia and Aksel were quite a pair. There were sparks from the very beginning, which eventually grew into a full on blazing fire. He had aspirations of a military career, and therefore, also possessed a multitude of survival skills, which were put to good use during their relationship. He was a perfect match for Sophia, and I found myself really rooting for them.

Overall: The combination of romance, friendship, and action in this fast-paced tale had me hooked from beginning to end. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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