Monday, February 1, 2021



Georgina Young
Age/Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Text
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Lona, a cynical, introverted artist and part-time roller-DJ, traverses life’s sorrows and joys in this heartfelt look at new adulthood.

Set in Melbourne, Loner is a humorous and heartfelt exploration of new adulthood. Lona kills her days by sneaking into the dark room at her old art school to develop photographs. She kills her nights DJ-ing the roller disco at Planet Skate. She is in inexplicably, debilitatingly love with a bespectacled Doctor Who-obsessed former classmate, and in comfortable, platonic love with her best friend Tab. Lona works hard to portray a permanent attitude of cynicism and ennui but will her carefully constructed persona be enough to protect her from the inevitable sorrows and unexpected joys of adult life? Loner re-examines notions of social isolation experienced by young people, suggesting sometimes our own company can be a choice and not a failing.

Lona was lost and adrift. Disenchanted with following the expected path to adulthood via university, she dropped out, but for what? She honestly had no idea. This book was about Lona's struggles as she was forced to take that leap from adolescence to adulthood, while also trying to figure out who she was and where she fit in. 
Lona wants to know what the rules are, the rules to being an adult. 
I am not totally sure how to articulate my feelings about this book, but I will say, I was fully engrossed in this slice-of-life tale. I was immediately drawn to Lona. Her wry and honest inner monologues and observations often made me chuckle, but it was her thoughts on being a loner and lonely that really had me nodding my head. 
But the getting out of the house is the hard thing. The making herself the person she is for everyone else is the painful thing. 
Lona was a massive introvert, who also sounded like she suffered from a bit of social anxiety. So, we were kindred spirits. There were these times where she talked about needing to be alone while not wanting to be alone that I related to so hard. That, and when she talked about how exhausting it was to socialize. How hard it was to wear a mask and hide those uglier pieces of yourself from everyone. It was like she was reading my mind. And, how could I not love a girl, who pulls out a book at any given time and would be happy if people would just talk about books with her?
It's the boringness of talking about other people instead of books and television. 
For me, this story was about Lona's journey as she tried to figure out who Lona-the-adult was. Throughout the book, she kept trying to find the "adult" things that fit. Getting a job, moving out of her parents' home, embarking on a romantic relationship -- these were all new experiences for her. There were hits and misses, well, mostly misses, if we're being honest, but they all were part of her journey of self-discovery. 
Being the contacted means feeling wanted, whereas there is always an inherent neediness and selfconsciousness to being the contacter.
This was an honest look at that space in-between youth and adulthood, which I really enjoyed. I would have liked more from the ending, though it was not definitive, I guess it was hopeful. Either way, I absolutely adored the time I spent with Lona and in her head. I was laughing, feeling, nodding in agreement, sometimes doing all three at the same time, and I loved every second of it. 

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Crystal Maldonado
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Holiday House
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it's hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn't help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there's one person who's always in Charlie's corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing--he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.
Charlie was an aspiring writer and lover of romance, who was impatiently waiting for her own love story to be written. After watching her best friend, Amelia, move in and out of relationships, Charlie finally caught the eye of a cute classmate. Her first date! Her first kiss! It was all very exciting, but would Charlie be able to let go of her insecurities and allow this relationship grow? 

I was instantly charmed by Charlie. She was funny, warm, had a great sense of humor, and a big heart. I found I was very invested in her, because I could relate to her in so many ways, especially when it came to her body image. Charlie loved and adored her bestie, but it wasn't easy living in her shadow. Amelia was smart, beautiful, and slim. She checked many of those boxes of the societal "beauty standard", while Charlie didn't. Charlie may have had a great affection for Amelia, but it still stung to always come in second place to her. 

She also had a mother who went through a transformation, losing a great deal of weight. After she slimmed down, Charlie's weight became her mother's obsession. Everyone who is bigger knows all about these people. The "well-meaning" ones, who are just "looking out for your health". I felt bad that Charlie's mother was so fixated on her daughter's weight. There was a lot more to Charlie than what she looked like, and it was a shame her mother couldn't recognize that all the time. 

Feeling inadequate, wilting in someone's shadow, having a parent who feeds your insecurities, feeling like you are always second choice -- very relatable. But this story wasn't all boo-hoo, woe-as-me. There were tons of fun and sweet moments in there too. 

I, for one, loved the romance. Charlie found herself a rather wonderful boyfriend. He was gentle, kind, and terribly sweet. He was creative and appreciated the full-package that was Charlie Vega. I also really liked the mutually supportive friendship that existed between Charlie and Amelia. They shared a lot of history, and though they hit a few bumps along the way, their bond could not be broken. 

Overall, I really enjoyed getting to know Charlie. Though it was sometimes painful, I was happy to take this journey of self-acceptance with her. Maldonado did a wonderful job conveying Charlie's pain and anxiety, as well as her happiness and joy, and it was a pleasure watching Charlie grow and flourish. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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  1. i do like books with characters that are not perfect
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. That's just about every books I read, which is a good thing, since we all are a bit flawed.

  2. I love the sound of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega. That romance especially sounds like the most adorable!! I already feel so much for Charlie. <3

    1. The romance was super cute and super sweet, and thank goodness the drama didn't last too long, because I was shipping those two hard

  3. After reading your review for Fat Chance, Charlie Vega I really want to read it!

    1. It was cute, and I think a lot of people will appreciate what Charlie was feeling

  4. I really love both of these covers - glad they were such great reads for you!

    1. When I did the title graphic, I realized they were both faces.

  5. ahh, I really need to read Loner. Sounds like something I can really relate to as well.

  6. These both sound really good, and Lona sounds like a character I would really relate to on several levels.

    1. She was really interesting. I loved getting to know her

  7. "This was an honest look at that space in-between youth and adulthood".
    It's great that there are more and more books out there that are technically NA but don't focus on "going to college and getting laid" anymore 😂.

    1. That's the problem with NA and why they tried to call this a YA book. There's the NA romances, which are usually set in college, but we are seeing more of these post high school books, which are technically NA, though they would appeal to a YA audience. I like seeing them though. I think it's an important time period to explore.

  8. I hadn't heard much about Loner, but it sounds like a good one. I agree with your last comment here about the NA that would appeal to the YA audience. As a school librarian it is hard to decide on NA books because I want the students to have those to read, but I don't necessarily want to just put a bunch of sexy romance in there either. Not that I don't love the sexy romance, just don't want to worry about what I put in the school library. :-) Both of these sound good, the second one was already on my TBR. Great reviews!

    1. There is some romance in this book, and a sex scene (not explicit), but it's more about Lona and her trying to figure things out. College romance have dominated NA, but I am starting to see more books like this, and I really feel there is an audience.