Wednesday, May 17, 2023

#AmReading YA

You Wouldn't Dare
 by Samantha Markum
Published by Wednesday Books on March 28, 2023
Age/Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

A rom com about trying to have the summer of your life before everything changes - only to realize change might be exactly what you need...

When Juniper Nash Abreheart kissed Graham Isham for the first time, she had no idea it would nearly be the end of their friendship.

More specifically, she had no idea that the terrible, unforgivable thing she did to keep their summer fling a secret wouldn’t just ruin their friendship, but also Graham’s entire life. Now, months since the fallout, Junie and Graham spend most of their time sidestepping conversational landmines on the journey back to normalcy.

Junie is sure the strangeness between her and Graham is her biggest problem - until her mom hires Tallulah, her boyfriend’s surly teenage daughter, to work at their family cafĂ©, and then announces they’ll all be moving in together at the end of the summer. The only bright spot ahead is Junie’s dad’s upcoming visit, just in time for her community theater production. And then poor turnout soon threatens that.

But when Junie starts to realize the feelings she swore to take care of last summer have lingered, saving her production and managing her hostile relationship with Tallulah might be the least of her problems. Graham isn’t just off limits - their friendship has been mended to barely withstand a breeze, and the gale force of Junie’s feelings could be just what breaks them.

Samantha Markum’s You Wouldn’t Dare is about the risks and triumphs that come with being brave enough to take a chance at what you really want, including love.

This summer was a very important summer for Junie. She had plans, none of which included the multitude of changes that were coming her way, but she was determined to hold on to all things dear to her as she faced her future head-on.

I absolutely loved my time in White Coral Key! Junie’s mom chose well when she landed here and assembled an incredible found family for her and her daughter. How lucky to find a place filled with so many wonderful people. Seriously, Junie may have been let down by those biologically related to her, but she scored big when these amazing people claimed her as their own.

Family and friendship were a big focus in this story which filled my heart with joy. I felt like Markum did a great job exploring the different relationship dynamics. The bond between Junie and her mother was especially touching, while some of the dynamics in her close-friend group seemed to be shifting and presented new challenges for all involved. Change can be hard, but it’s a bit easier when you have a great support system and unconditional love.

There was a romance too. It was so precious! I was enthusiastically rooting for that love match. It took quite a while for the romance to ramp up, and there were a few shaky moments, but it was well worth the wait. So swoony and sweet.

All these things delighted me, but the heart of the story was Junie in all her messy glory. She had declared this a summer of working harder, and she did work harder, but it was also a summer of big changes for someone who was not too keen on such things. I am struggling with articulating why I adored this book so much because it was a combination of things that made it perfection for me. Just know that there was joy, tears, and miles of smiles.

Overall: It was a pleasure watching Junie grow, let go, and go with the flow.

The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway
 by Ashley Schumacher
Published by Wednesday Books on March 14, 2023
Age/Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Since her mother’s death, Madeline “Gwen” Hathaway has been determined that nothing in her life will change ever again. That’s why she keeps extensive lists in journals, has had only one friend since childhood, and looks forward to the monotony of working the ren faire circuit with her father. Until she arrives at her mother’s favourite end-of-tour stop to find the faire is under new management and completely changed.

Meeting Arthur, the son of the new owners and an actual lute-playing bard, messes up Maddie’s plans even more. For some reason, he wants to be her friend - and ropes her into becoming Princess of the Faire. Now Maddie is overseeing a faire dramatically changed from what her mother loved and going on road trips vastly different from the routine she used to rely on. Worst of all, she’s kind of having fun.

Ashley Schumacher's The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway is filled with a wise old magician who sells potion bottles, gallant knights who are afraid of horses and ride camels instead, kings with a fondness for theatrics, a lazy river castle moat with inflatable crocodile floaties, and a plus-sized heroine with a wide-open heart... if only she just admits it.

Returning to her mother’s favorite Faire was bittersweet for Maddie, but all the changes imposed by the new owners cause some undue stress as she tired to keep anything else in her life from changing.

Another touching and sweet story from Schumacher. I am glad she didn’t break my heart the way she did with her previous book, though, it did ache a bit for Maddie. Maddie’s mother died, and for the past year, she had been coping by keeping to herself and avoiding connections. Maddie couldn’t bear to get close to someone just to lose them.

Then along came Arthur with his charm and his lute. He was persistent in his effort to befriend Maddie and to take her on adventures. Not only did Maddie enjoy expanding her world, but so did I. this story is set in a part of the US I not familiar with, and it was great getting to visit these destinations.

I know many will sympathize with Maddie, but Arthur will also capture your heart. Sure, he was an utterly sweet golden retriever of a boy who one could not resist, but he was also battling his own demons. I loved how sensitive and open he was, and the way he and Maddie healed together.

I had a lot of fun with these two, and that little surprise connection that was revealed near the end was stupendous! A great setting, fun outings, and a precious romance made this a wonderful read for me.


What role would like assume if you worked in a Faire?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. It sounds like there are all different kinds of relationship in flux in You Wouldn't Dare. But I'm most curious about what happened between Junie and Graham.

    1. It was so good. I was so happy with the way all the relationships worked out

  2. A found family and a faire book. You had some great reads this week! The cover for that first one always catches my attention when I see it.

    1. Markum's books are great. I am looking forward to reading more from her

  3. I feel like I could relate to Junie - I'm not big on change, either! And I think your review does a great job of explaining why this was a fantastic read!

    1. We were crying at work about the new Office update. HA! Talk about hating change. I did feel that Markum did a beautiful job helping me understand Junie and all the complicated relationships

  4. Sounds like both had adventures and settings that make you want to travel. Plus a bit of romance. Nice combinations. Happy to hear you enjoyed both stories!

    1. Yes. Both were great destinations, but it was "framily" that made it great

  5. Glad you enjoyed both of these. Both are on my TBR. I don't have a clue what role I could possible play in a Ren Faire, but I bet it'd be fun to visit one.