Thursday, July 9, 2020

#AmReading YA

Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Amelia Diane Coombs
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: B
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Sparks fly when two ex-best-friends team up to save a family business in this swoon-worthy and witty debut perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen.

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.

And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.

So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting reckless—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back ways that go beyond friendship.

If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.
The family business is in trouble, and Chuck knows that if it fails, she will be forced to leave San Francisco. She loves this city! It's a part of her, and she would do just about anything to stay. But she wonders if it's worth reconciling with her former best friend after his betrayal?

I won't lie. I expected this to be fluffier than it was. That said, I throughly enjoyed it anyway.

Chuck was looking to keep her heart in San Francisco, and she did a great job showing me why. I absolutely love when a book takes me places, and Coombs deftly whisked me away to San Fran. She took me throughout the city, showing me places that are well known, as well as some I had was unaware of. Her admiration for the city was clearly displayed throughout the story, and I had a fantastic time touring the city. 

I also loved Chuck. She really spoke to me. She was very witty, a bit snarky, and she charmed the pants off of me. Her loneliness and struggles with her mental health were things I easily related to, but I was also fond of her passion for fashion.  I ate up all the little fashion and design morsels peppered throughout the story, and I loved trying to imagine what she was wearing. I have a soft spot for creative types, and it was fun getting to peek at her design dreams. 

Though Beckett betrayed Chuck and seemed to give up on her, I had nothing but love for him. It was wonderful watching him and Chuck reconnect, because they were both sort of lost without the other. Chuck and Beckett experienced a lot of disappointment in their year apart, and they survived, but they were much stronger together. These two knew each other inside and out, and it was nice to see Beckett fighting to save their friendship. 

Then, there was bowling. Fact: I am a terrible bowler, but I grew up around it and rather enjoy the game. I liked being immersed in the bowling world with these two, and I found the game sequences quite exhilarating. I was happy to be cheering for Chuck as she attempted to save the business and couldn't stop hoping that she could turn her family situation around. 

Overall: I found this to be a wonderful story of family, friendship, and mental health, which warmed my heart and had me rooting for the little guy to win. 

Now & When

Sara Bennett Wealer
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
For fans of Jenny Han and Christine Riccio comes a romantic dramedy about a teen girl who stumbles upon a mysterious website that tells her everything she doesn't want to know about her future.

There's something about Truman Alexander that Skyler Finch finds incredibly annoying. Actually, several things: his voice (grating), his arrogance (total know-it-all), his debate-team obsession (eyeroll), and his preppy vibe (does he iron his shorts?). She does her best to avoid him and focus on the important stuff: friends, school, and her boyfriend, Eli. His promposal was perfect--just like he is--and the future is looking bright. Or is it?

For some unexplainable reason, Skylar's phone is sending her notifications from the future . . . a future in which, to her horror, she appears to be with Truman. As in, romantically. As in, Skyler cannot let that happen.

But trying to change the future means messing up the present, and what Skyler sees keeps shifting. Classmates disappear and reappear, swap partners and futures. Turns out there are no actions without reactions, and life doesn't come with a road map. But sometimes the wandering leads you exactly where you need to be, and people--like glitchy phones--are full of surprises.
Skyler lived in the "now", and didn't worry too much about the future. When Skyler's cell phone showed her glimpse's of her ten year reunion, she became very concerned with acting now to prevent such things from becoming her reality. But, while trying to fix the future, she may have caused some serious problems in the present. 

I said it, when I featured this book back in April as my Can't Wait Wednesday pick, I was intrigued by the premise, but I was really coming for the promised hate-to-love romance, and I was not disappointed. 

Truman and Skyler had quite the rivalry. Their bickering and arguing became expected in their classes, but through the verbal sparring, it was easy to see an obvious spark. I liked these two, and the way they challenged each other, while having such differing goals. Truman was suffering through his present in order to ensure his future, while Skyler was sort of coasting, only worrying about the now. They helped each other meet in the middle, while also maybe realizing that they may have outgrown some of their plans.  

For me, the "magical" element played a small role, though I appreciated it as a creative way to get Skyler to start really looking at her life. What was more meaningful for me was the overall message, that life is about balance, and even if you have the best laid plans, your future may not match the one you envisioned. It's also about friendship, and working to foster those important relationships. And, it's about being true to yourself, spending your time and effort to achieve things that matter to you, not just to impress others. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the idea of living in the now vs. planning for the future, and how sometimes things are out of our control, no matter how hard we try to follow a plan. I was also a fan of these two "enemies", and liked watching that tension turn into more.

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Do you enjoy bowling?
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