Thursday, October 3, 2019

One Old, One New: YA Romance Edition

One Old, One New features two books - one old, one new, which are connected in some way. Today, I am sharing two YA books featuring sweet romances.
Our Year in Love & Parties
Karen Hattrup
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
In this poignant, funny, and romantic novel, four nights of epic partying will see two teens through their highest highs and lowest lows over the course of one unforgettable year. Perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and Mary H.K. Choi!

Tucker knows that some relationships take work. With his best friend, Bobby, and his mom, everything is simple, steady. His dad, on the other hand, seems to only show up when he wants to bring Tucker down. Then there’s Erika Green, who comes back into his life, stirring up old feelings. A small part of him knows he shouldn’t get too attached during senior year. But a bigger part doesn’t want her to disappear again.

Erika from before the video loved to shock people. Now, she just wants to hole up in her quiet college life and leave the past where it belongs—in a dumpster fire. But then she reconnects with Tucker Campanelli. Erika can’t explain what it is about him. There’s just this undeniable connection between them, and she really doesn’t want to lose that feeling. Not yet.
Tucker had been crushing on Erika the summer they worked together at the Cave, and found that there was still a spark after their separation. They were reunited at a Farewell Cave party, and I had the pleasure of seeing their relationship morph and change over the course of one year and four parties, and I loved every second of it.

I am actually shedding tears of joy as I write this review, because I ADORED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!! It was just so beautiful. It made me feel a truckload of emotions, and I really wanted to hug it multiple times as I compulsively perused Erika and Tucker's story.

I really enjoyed the format of this book. It took place over a year - Tucker's senior year of high school and Erika's sophomore year of college. I didn't spend every day of that year with them, but rather, I was treated to "snapshots", where the important bits of their lives were fed to me, while they attend various parties. You would think it would leave me with holes, but Hattrup deftly filled in all the important details that occurred outside of the day in question, while keeping me wholly in the moment.

The storytelling was fantastic, but it was the characters, who really stood out in this story. I was such a fan of both Erika and Tucker, and could not help rooting for them both apart and together. When Erika met Tucker, she was a social pariah, and although time had passed, she was still dealing with those residual feelings of shame, disappointment, and mistrust. She had isolated herself during her first year of college, and knew she wanted more from this new year and for herself. I loved the arc Hattrup gave her, and cheered for with every step she took in the right direction. She had to make peace with what happened to her in high school in order for her to be able to move forward, and those baby steps helped her to trust again and to forgive herself for what happened.

I liked Erika very much, but oh, I loved Tucker. If only I was 17, I would be hoping to meet a wonderful soft boy just like him. He had the biggest and most beautiful heart, and it showed through so many of the things he did, but he was constantly at odds with this side of himself, because his father did not approve. He mocked his sensitive son, who was a bit nerdy, but I loved him, and liked the subtle approach Hattrup took while dealing with the issues of toxic masculinity and rape culture. Tucker's path to self acceptance was not an easy one, but I believed his relationship with Erika played a huge role in him getting there.

Can we talk about these two together. The banter, the tension, the push and pull -- I loved it all, even if the will-they-won't-they drove me batty. In the end, they shared a friendship for the ages, that though, far from perfect, was nonetheless, perfection. They experienced their ups and downs, but they always cared for each other, and this bond transcended the typical romance, venturing into them being each other's "person" territory. One thing I would consider a gift, though, would be an epilogue or a novella followup to this book, because the ending, though full of hope, was a bit too open for me.

So many things were perfection for me in this book. There was family, friendship, and fun galore. I mean, this book was so good, that I was able to overlook all the Harry Potter references. Those who know me will realize what a big deal that was, and it was because Erika and Tucker's story stole my heart. Every party I attended with them was a gift, and I am so elated I got to share this year with them.

**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

Love Scene, Take Two
Alex Evansley
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Debut author Alex Evansley delivers a sweet summer romance in this inventive novel about a young heartthrob and teen author falling in love.

Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he'd nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There's just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he's stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex-girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.

The weekend isn't exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family's lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax . . . and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren't the subject of several dozen fanblogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett . . . gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Alex Evansley's debut novel, written from both Bennett and Teddy's perspectives, will have teens laughing, swooning, and falling in love along with these fantastically relatable characters.
After tanking his audition (or so he thought) for the next biggest YA movie franchise, Teddy serendipitously connected with the author of the series, and was invited to her lake house, when his connecting flight was canceled. Sparks flew, and the two seem to be interested in more than friendship from each other, but the weekend ended badly, until fate intervened to give Bennett and Teddy a second take. Would they be able to forget the first take on this romance, and see what the future had in store for them?

All relationships come with their challenges, but Teddy and Bennett had to deal with the celebrity factor as well. It always astounds me, the way that the fans think they are the third party in a celebrity coupling, and this phenomena was especially challenging for our young couple.

Fame can be a tricky beast, and make one wonder if someone wants them or their celebrity. Though both Bennett and Teddy worried about this, Bennett had actually experienced it with a past boyfriend, and this caused her to erect a wall, which Teddy was going to have to take down, brick by brick.

However, Teddy being as sweet and wonderful as he was, persisted. I felt like he really wore his heart on his sleeve, and he did not easily give up on Bennett. I can say, that I was rooting for him the whole time, because it was easy to see that he and Bennett belonged together. Just be prepared for a lot of push and pull.

What I also liked:

  • Both Bennett and Teddy were so likable, I couldn't help but want them to succeed. 
  • The lake house was a fantastic setting for the first part of the book. I loved that we weren't just at the lake house, but we enjoyed boating, cooking out, and other lake activities. 
  • Bennett's mom, dad, and brother were fabulous. I had such a nice time with them at the lake, and looked forward to them coming on set, later in the story. 
  • Bennett's team on set, Olivia and Emmy, were wonderful supporters and friends, and I loved what they brought to the story. 
  • It was fun being on the set, and I enjoyed the bits of Bennett's books, that were revealed to us as they filmed. 
  • There were quite a few sweet and swoony moments, as well as many humorous and smile inducing ones. These are all things I look for in a story, and was glad it was ever present in this book. 
Overall, I had a lot of fun watching this love match happen. I smiled, laughed, swooned, and cheered as I read this book, and I am looking forward to enjoying more from Evansley. 

Favorite theme party?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I'm definitely excited to read Love Scene, Take Two (even more so now!) but I'm waiting on the price becoming sensible. I'll never understand why the prices of ebooks get set at the level of the paperback (or sometimes higher!)

    1. That book was really expensive. I picked it as a book of choice, when I won a giveaway (I always picked my most expensive wishlist books). Swoon will usually do a sale around Valentine's and I always stock up on their titles then.

  2. i'm not a romance person, per se, unless we have some murder or supernatural elements going on. hope ya never know when that one that grabs will pop up though
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. I am such a romance junkie, and these hit all the right notes for me.

  3. Both of these are already on my TBR! I do think the excessive Harry Potter references would make me cringe, because I feel like that's been used excessively in books over the years. One or two comments...sure, okay. It's a popular series that people love, but I prefer when characters have obscure interests, because I usually Google what they're talking about. I've discovered some amazing music, books, and movies simply because they were mentioned in a book I was reading, and I looked them up later. :)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    1. You know I have a thing about HP being everywhere, but at least it had some context in this book, as they bonded over the series, and later attended a HP inspired holiday room. I actually prefer fictional fandoms, that the authors create specifically for the book. I think it's a smart way to keep the material from being dated.

  4. Hurray for a couple of great reads! I haven't heard of either of these, but Our Year in Love and Parties sounds especially cute. The Harry Potter references do sound like they might have been a bit much though.

    1. Yes, here I am, the reader of the non-hyped books. I consider myself lucky to get access to books from the publishers, because I can take a lot more risks, than people who have to pay for all their books. I think you all are used to my rants about HP references, but I felt like they actually had a place in this story, and were not just randomly stuck in.

  5. You are on a roll with good reads! These both sound delightful:)

    1. I always feel fortunate, when I can find a great book for myself.

  6. These reviews were great! I loved everything you said about Our Year in Love & Parties. I am so curious about the snapshots storytelling format. I'm all about unique formatting! And the characters sounds wonderful. I also really also think I am going to enjoy the second book too, because books with fame in them really intrigue me in both adult and young adult fiction too.

    1. Parties was near perfection for me, and I am smiling as I think about that book. I like having the opportunity to follow characters for a longer period of time, and getting to really see them grow and change.