Thursday, August 20, 2020

#AmReading YA

Recommended for You

Laura Silverman
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets You’ve Got Mail in this charming and hilarious rom-com following two teen booksellers whose rivalry is taken to the next level as they compete for the top bookseller bonus.

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…
Once Upon, a local indie book store, was Shoshanna's escape. It was a place where she was received with open arms and where her talents and sparkling personality were always appreciated. At least it was until Jake, the NON-READER, started working there. He was determined to usurp Shoshanna as top salesperson, but she was willing to battle to the last book. 

When I saw the cover for this book, I knew I had to read it. The cover screamed cute, sweet, adorable, merry, and bright, and I was thrilled to find that all those words can also be used to describe the story. 

Shoshanna was the heart of this tale, and there were a bunch of cracks forming in her life. Her mothers were fighting, her car needed expensive repairs, and Jake was immune to her charms. It was rather delightful watching these two spar, but it was even better seeing them find some common ground and unite for the greater good. They were actually really good for each other. Shoshanna was well meaning, but could be impulsive and jump to conclusions. Spending time with Jake helped her slow down a bit and consider things from a different point of view, and as far as I'm concerned, growth is good. 

The book is being billed as a rom-com, and it was fun and funny, but the romance was slow to come. However, there was enough flirting and banter to keep me happy, so I didn't mind the wait. I do wish Silverman had focused a bit more on the romance. There were many subplots in this book, and perhaps, one or two could have been eliminated in order to let us have a bit more on-page courtship. Nonetheless, these two were adorable, and there were many fun and fantastic interactions between them. 

I absolutely loved the bookstore setting. Silverman did such a wonderful job bringing the store to life and filling it with such a fun mix of characters. It was hard not to get caught up in all the bookish things, but I also felt the love that filled Once Upon. I would say that almost all my favorite scenes took place in the bookstore. The competition, the celebrations, the events, or the simple conversations shared between book lovers were lots of fun to read about and the community aspect is something I always enjoy. 

Overall: A lively and enjoyable story filled with lots of bookish love, warmth, and cheer. 

Sing Like No One's Listening

Vanessa Jones
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
A moving story of grief and healing - sure to be a pure joy for any musical theater aficionado.

Nettie Delaney has just been accepted into a prestigious performing arts school--the very same school her superstar mother attended. With her mother's shadow hanging over her, Nettie has her work cut out for her--and everyone is watching. To make matters worse, Nettie hasn't been able to sing a single note since her mother died. Whenever she tries, she just clams up. But if Nettie's going to survive a demanding first year and keep her place in a highly coveted program, she'll have to work through her grief and deliver a showstopper or face expulsion.

All may not be lost, however, when Nettie stumbles upon a mysterious piano player in an empty studio after class. Masked behind a curtain, can Nettie summon the courage to find her voice? Or will the pressure and anxiety of performing come crashing down?

All about finding and raising your voice, and not throwing away your shot, Vanessa Jones's well-crafted journey of grief and healing will pull readers along with its strong narrative voice and satisfying sense of mystery.
Despite her audition being a complete disaster, Nettie is accepted to a renowned arts program. The only problem is she can't sing. Not a note. Hopefully, Nettie is able to work through her grief and loss and be able to reclaim her voice before she is loses her spot at her dream school. 

I had such a lovely time getting to know Nettie. Following her mother's death, she was more or less, on her own, at least emotionally. Life with her formerly estranged grandmother was not full of warm fuzzies. Rather, it was punctuated with sharp criticism and attempts to undercut Nettie's belief in herself. But Nettie didn't let it get her down. She was determined to get into Duke's and succeed at achieving her dreams. 

In case you couldn't tell, it was really easy for me to root for Nettie. She had baggage and was dealing with a LOT, but she still kept her head up and her eyes on the prize. While at Duke's she encountered a lot of people who were set on making things difficult for her. They were hoping she would stumble and fall, but Nettie had grit and determination, and I loved her that much more for it. 

As I said, Nettie was not only dealing with a lot of pain due to the loss of her mother, she was also struggling with a mental block which was keeping her from singing. The great thing was that Nettie was not alone in her struggle. She had a fabulous and colorful group of steadfast friends, who were there for her. They were all really so supportive of each other, and I admired and adored this little "family". 

She was also fortunate to have stumbled into a friendship with Fletch. Fletch was someone who could really understand Nettie's pain, because he had also lost someone close to him. I think it was vital that she had someone like that to connect to, and that made Fletch an important part of her healing process. I actually was a fan of Nettie+Fletch. I thought they were rather adorable together even if there was some drama (isn't there always). 

Like many other readers, I was curious to learn more about Nettie's mom's past. But, alas, those answers never came. It was sort of frustrating, but in all fairness, this was not her mom's story. In fact, Nettie explicitly stated (multiple times) that she was not trying to uncover these answers. Though I will never get the answers to some of my questions, I am ok with it. 

I love grief books, and I thought this was a beautiful story of healing which managed to touch my heart. With stellar friendships and a fantastic musical score, Nettie was bound to ease her pain and find her voice, and I happily rooted for her along the way. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Have you ever worked in a bookstore?
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