Archive for the 'Romance' Category

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

Genre:  Romance

356 p.

College freshmen Mariam is still reeling from her breakup from Caleb, her high school boyfriend and she believes the love of her life.  She has a great relationship with her roommate, but otherwise she hasn’t gotten out much since she’s started college.  One day she decides she’s done feeling sorry for herself and she goes to the local virtual dating experience in order to see if she has any more “matches” out there.  To her surprise, the matchmaking program uses artificial intelligence in order to assess all of her qualities and match her up with three top choices.  They tell her that her top choice is one of the highest percentages they’ve ever had, but she can’t help but notice that her third choice is none other than Caleb.  Can she really ignore this incredible coincidence?  No, she can’t, so she invites Caleb’s avatar on a virtual date without him knowing it’s really her.  It goes really well and pretty soon they are going on other virtual dates, but the longer this goes on the more she knows that she must tell him the truth and she’s not sure she’s read to lose Caleb all over again.  Meanwhile, is it possible she’s already had contact with her #1 match?

This romance story puts a very modern twist on dating with the virtual experience, but it’s still fun and filled with engaging characters.  The story feels genuine and believable despite the use of very advanced matchmaking technology and the reader really wants Mariam to find happiness.  Mariam’s difficulty adjusting to college life is very relatable to many students and they will want to see how she copes with her parents, siblings, and making new friends during this transitional time.  Recommended for romance fans.

 

Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  300

Simi is an Indian American girl who very much wants to grow up to be an artist, not a matchmaker like her mother and grandmother.  They believe she has the matchmaking gift that they have been doing in their family for generations based on personality traits, values, and much more.  Simi’s friend, Noah, wants them to step out of their comfort zones and get noticed during their sophomore year of high school, which is why he suggests they team up with Simi’s brother (a coder) to create a matchmaking app to bring Simi’s mother’s business into the modern age.  Simi reluctantly agrees and they create and launch a matchmaking app for just their high school.  It is naturally a big success as people begin seeing past their previously set cliques to see people they might be compatible with in the school.  Even the artwork Simi designed for the app is a hit.  The only problem is that one popular girl did not get paired with the guy she believes she’s meant to be with and therefore she’s causing trouble for Simi and Noah.  Is a matchmaking app based on ancient matchmaking ideals a good idea?  Will it bring people together like it’s supposed to or tear them apart and make Simi’s sophomore year a disaster?

This is a fun story that honors the matchmaking culture in a way that shows why it was originally established and how for many people it truly is about finding happiness for lonely people and not about making connections or dowries.  There are many different factors that Simi must consider as she launches this app at her school, but overall her intent is to make people happy and not to make money or benefit in any other way.  Along the way Simi finds several potential love interests and one challenges her personal beliefs (she reacts true to herself, which readers will find refreshing).  Recommended for fans of light romances such as Jenny Han, Sarah Dessen, and Susanne Colasanti.

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Genre: Romance/ Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 440

Emma Saylor hasn’t spent much time with her mother’s family since she was little due to her parent’s divorce and then her mother’s death when she was ten.  Her father tried really hard to shield her from the pain he knew she felt from her mother’s absence.  When her dad gets remarried, Emma is supposed to spend time with a close friend while he goes on his honeymoon, but plans change and she finds herself without anywhere to go for several weeks.  After exhausting every possibility, Emma goes to stay with her mother’s family who call her Saylor (which is what her mother called her).  They run a hotel next to a lake and Emma finds herself learning the importance of hard work and family as she throws herself into the family business.  She also realizes that she really doesn’t know much about her mother’s family at all and enjoys hearing how memories and seeing family photos.  As she gets to know her grandmother, aunts, and cousins she starts to realize that she wants to get to know them more even after the summer is over.  Meanwhile, there is a little romance between her and a local boy.

Anyone can relate to this story about feeling torn between two different worlds.  Emma was always a part of her father’s elite upper middle class world, but she feels she belongs just as much to her mother’s working class family first world.  Can she find a way to balance both?  Can she find a way for her two worlds to connect?  Recommended for fans of Dessen’s other titles or Jenny Han books.

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages: 282

2019 Iowa High School Book Award

Morgan has become increasingly frightened to leave her apartment ever since the mass shooting at her high school.  It’s gotten to the point where she can’t even step outside her apartment door without everything starting to go fuzzy.  When Evan moves in next door she begins to want to explore the outside world again.  She misses her friends and her swim team and she hates the burden she’s put on her single mother and brother.  Her father is largely absent and isn’t much of a role model when he is in the picture. With the help of her therapist, Morgan must make the choice to fight her fears or else she may never leave her apartment again.

This book truly helps readers see what it would be like to be agoraphobic.  Morgan’s fears and her subsequent fight to get better are not portrayed as easy or trivial in any way.  As the story goes on, Morgan is also forced to see that others were also negatively challenged by the shooting, but have struggled in other ways.  It’s also nice to see how Morgan’s family copes and remains relatively happy and supportive of each other despite all that they have been through and the fact that they are not rich.  Evan is a fun character for Morgan to interact with, but ultimately this is Morgan’s story to tell.

The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

Genre: Romance

280 p.

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Bridge and Wil were very close until Bridge did something that Wil did not think he could bring himself to forgive.  It has been months and Bridge is still struggling without Wil and his family’s influence.  When she runs into Wil, his new girlfriend, and his dad at the grocery store his dad urges her to make things right with Wil.  She argues that it’s Wil who doesn’t want to have a relationship with her but he argues back that she needs to mend the friendship if nothing else.  Shortly after the town is shocked by the news that Wil’s dad has been murdered by an intruder and Bridge knows that it is her job to comfort Wil and his mother at this time.  Eventually, they begin to grow closer as Wil struggles with the aftermath of this attack, but is he being completely honest with Bridge?  Do they really have a future together or are they just looking for familiarity during a tragedy?

The relationship between the two main characters is very complicated, as many relationships are, despite both Wil and Bridge’s desire that it be easy and simple.  Bridge is trying to make up for a mistake she made and is desperate to get back in Wil’s good graces, but Wil has demons to overcome himself.  They are both facing many difficult decisions as they enter their senior year and it understandably causes some tension and anxiety with those around them.  They lean on each other to help them through these confusing times, but often find that without total honesty and trust nothing really matters.  Recommended for fans of conflict romances.

 

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

suitorsImogene Chively has been raised to find a wealthy husband in 1917 England and her family believes they have done just that when she attracts the interest of Ernest, but unfortunately, Imogene is much more intrigued by his younger brother, Benjamin.  Ernest is perfectly friendly and accommodating but she feels they have very little in common while Benjamin is an architect’s apprentice and desperately needs her help in improving his drawing skills so that he can bring his architectural visions to life.  As the two work together they begin to get closer and closer which makes Imogene wonder if she is brave enough to go against her family’s wishes and reject the heir for the younger working class brother.  Meanwhile, a series of unfortunate accidents leads Imogene to believe that someone is trying to do Benjamin harm and no one believes her.  She grows more frustrated as the incidents escalate and everyone dismisses her warnings since she is a young woman.  Is there someone trying to harm Benjamin and if so why?  Will she find the strength to be with the man of her dreams versus the one who can give her a comfortable life?

This Junior Library Guild selection mixes light romance with a little intrigue in a historical setting.  Imogene is very modern in her thinking for this time, but she is still contained by the expectations of a young lady of her class in 1917.  Her growing aspirations as an artist are also an issue for her and she faces the repercussions when she tries to break free from the constraints set upon her by the times and her family.  Fans of historical fiction romance will enjoy this lighter title.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Genre:  Realistic  Fiction/Romance

# of Pages: 348

Iowa High School Award Winner 2018-19

Natasha is struggling to accept that her family is about to be deported and won’t stop fighting even though it is her last day.  There is a lawyer who is supposed to be very talented at stopping deportations and she has a meeting with him today, but along the way she meets Daniel.  Daniel is an Asian American who has always tried to be a good son, which is why he’s on his way to a college admissions interview for a school he’s not sure he really wants to go to.  After Natasha and Daniel meet by chance they both find themselves drawn to each other and end up spending the day together talking and sharing their life’s ambitions.  They know that today could possibly be their last and they want to make it count.  Is it meant to be?

Nicola Yoon is quickly becoming a favorite young adult author.  This story focuses on some real issues that many teens deal with everyday, but in a way that feels unique and special to this particular couple.  Readers will connect with Natasha and Daniel and will want to know more about them.  Yoon does a great job of helping to show how other characters fit into the story as well by switching to different perspectives throughout the story.  Fans of romance novels such as The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park will enjoy this title. Recommended.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Genre:  Romance

# of Pages: 329

Iowa High School Award Winner 2018-19

Lily comes from a big and crazy family where chaos rules their house most of the time.  She likes to dress in a unique style, has unruly hair, and enjoys alternative music choices.  She even tries to write her own songs, but lately that hasn’t been going so well. She has a best friend, Isabel, who loves her for all her quirks but desperately wants her to find someone to date so they can have couple’s outings.  At school there is a boy she likes, Lucas, who doesn’t seem to notice her existence, and a boy, Cade, whom she despises and finds to be arrogant and rude at every turn.  After she gets her notebook taken away for writing music lyrics in chem class, she begins writing right on the desktop and to her surprise, someone writes a response and they have the same taste in music as her.  They begin exchanging notes back and forth and she really starts to open up to this person, but then becomes anxious about who her pen pal might be.  Could it possibly be the boy she’s been admiring or could it be the boy she dislikes with every fiber of her being?

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will love this sweet romance about two people who think they know everything about the other only to find out they really don’t know anything at all.  Lily’s family is humorous in the background, but the heart of the story is really the romance between Lily and her pen pal.  Recommended for anyone who loves teen romances.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Image result for once and for all

357 p.

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

Louna works for her mother’s successful wedding planning business, but after having her heart broken a year prior she is not sure there is such a thing as a happy ever after.  Her mother and her mother’s business partner, William, also feel this way and Louna worries they are getting too pessimistic and jaded.  Then, they meet Ambrose who is the crazy optimistic little brother of a bride and nothing ever seems to get him down.  At first Louna sees this as simply shirking responsibility and not caring about his future, but after he lands a summer job working alongside her, she begins to see he is just hopelessly helpful and always hopeful that everything will work out positively.  Eventually, Louna realizes she wants to be more like that, but will that mean officially “getting over” the terrible thing that happened in her past relationship?  Will she ever really have a chance at another true love?

Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this new title, but the characters don’t quite stick with the reader the way they do in some of her other books such as The Truth About Forever.  The way Louna’s previous relationship ended definitely adds a unique twist that will surprise readers.  Overall, a fun, fast story for readers who love romances.

Parallel by Lauren Miller

parallel

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  423

Abby Barnes wakes up one day to find that everything she thought was true about the last year of her life had been changed dramatically.  Instead of taking a drama class and eventually earning a role in a movie, she ended up taking an astronomy class and ended up attending Yale.  Her relationships with her best friend and two possible boyfriends were also affected with this switch.  Her best friend, who’s also a science genius, traces the change to the day that a major worldwide earthquake occurred and believes her life has been blurred with that of a parallel life.  Abby struggles to learn what that in fact means and if this disturbance  can keep affecting her life.  Every morning she wakes up to assess if her parallel has done anything to change her current present.   Meanwhile, she tries to keep her “double life” a secret so that no one knows just how crazy she believes she is.  Will this ever get fixed or will she be doomed to live this challenging life forever?

The idea of parallel lives is complicated and challenging, but Lauren Miller writes the story in a way that is absolutely understandable and even intriguing without being confusing.  There are many characters and while some feature more heavily than others they all impact Abby’s overall story.  The story gains momentum near the end and readers will want to see what ultimately happens to Abby and if she ever gains control of her life back.

Royal Chase by Sariah Wilson

royal-chase

Genre: Romance

# of Pages:  274

The second in the Montlake Romance series, Lemon is unexpectedly placed on a reality dating show similar to the bachelor after two other contestants are forced to resign and filming is about to start.  The “bachelor” is her PR client and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the show successful, even if it means pretending to be a contestant despite being recently engaged herself.  Throughout the filming of the series, Dante tries his hardest to woo Lemon into giving them a chance.  While Lemon is not entirely sure about her fiancee, Sterling, she also believes Dante is a womanizer who only wants her because he can’t have her.  As the competition goes on, however, things begin to intensify and Lemon isn’t sure what to do.  Does she give true love a chance with Dante even if he could break her heart?  Or, does she play it safe and return home to her fiancee who doesn’t seem to care very much that she’s been gone for weeks filming?

This is a fun romance series that romance readers will enjoy.  In particular, fans of The Selection would like it although there is not any rebellion action.  The stories feel modern and fresh while also incorporating all the romantic qualities that readers enjoy.  It would be best to read this in order, but each one is enjoyable on its own.

Fifteen Seconds of Normal by Alex Marestaing

fifteen-seconds-of-normal

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages 292

**special review**

Kaeya is a recent transfer who is hiding the fact that she has Tourette’s from her classmates.  She wants people to accept her for who she is and not the disease she deals with daily.  Thatcher learns that his father has left his mother when he finds his mother crying inconsolably and he has to take his sister to school without even taking the time to shower or comb his hair.  Unfortunately, it is picture day at school and he takes the worst photo of his life.  Even more unfortunate for him is that a classmate makes a meme out of the picture and it goes viral.  As Kaeya desperately tries to fit in and earn a date with her crush, Thatcher wonders if he’ll ever survive this humiliation.  Through unexpected circumstances they come together and begin getting to know each other.  Could they be exactly what the other person needs?  Could this be the beginning of something special?

This book tackles issues that many other books don’t, such as the influence of social media on teenagers and Tourette’s, which is a syndrome many teens probably do not know much of anything about.  Yet, the focus of the book is not on hate, judgment, or humiliation but instead on love, patience, and kindness.  Kaeya and Thatcher are extremely engaging characters and their thoughts and emotions are carefully crafted so that the reader wants to know more about each of them and how their relationship will continue to develop.  This is a really engaging, unique story that will take teens by surprise.  Recommended.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirl

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of pages:  438

Cather does not like to go out drinking like most college freshmen she knows.  Instead, she likes to stay in and write fan fiction for a fantasy series she is obsessed with.  Meanwhile, her identical twin has tried very hard to distance herself from Cath so that they can start anew in college.  Cath slowly assimilates to college including getting used to her unusual roommate and her friendly male friend who seems to be in Cath’s room a lot.  There is a fair share of drama in Cath’s life (including a father who is struggling with his new empty nest), but the one thing that always balances things out is her love of writing, which is why she’s so excited for her fiction writing class.  Unfortunately, even that does not go exactly as planned…

Fans of John Green or any of Rainbow Rowell’s other books will become obsessed with these characters.  The story is interesting enough, but it’s the characters that make it hard to put this one down.  Cath is very relatable to anyone who’s ever been new to a place and trying to find your way.  She has trouble knowing who to confide in, who to trust, and who to run from.  Eventually she starts gaining more confidence in her new life and starts making proactive choices instead of reactive ones.  It’s a very compelling coming of age story that will leave readers wanting more.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

geography of you and me

Genre:  Romance

# of Pages:  337

Iowa High School Award Winner 2016-17

Fans of sweet teen romances will love this title that follows Lucy and Owen who meet unexpectedly during a city wide blackout in New York City. They are trapped in an elevator when the blackout strikes and by the time they are freed decide to spend the evening together enjoying the city without the usual overpowering city lights.  After the blackout reality sets in as Owen’s dad loses his job and they must leave the city to find where they belong and Lucy’s dad gets a new job that transports her to Europe.  Throughout their travels, they send postcards to each other as well as exchange a few emails, but since they only had one night together neither one knows how hard they should try to stay in contact.  Meanwhile, Owen and his dad are dealing with the loss of his mother and Lucy is handling the new found family life she has found in Europe.  Can they find their way back to each other or are they simply too far apart?

Owen and Lucy lead interesting lives in this story as they completely move around the world for very different reasons, but there is still something that keeps drawing them together.  This book does not have a lot of supporting character development and the focus is always on Lucy and Owen.  Despite the fact that there are not a lot of major plot developments readers stay engaged with these two because their story is so relatable.  Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will enjoy this title.

Every day by David Levithan

every day

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

2016 Iowa High School Award Winner

“A” wakes up in a different body every day and has gotten used to this type of life.  When A wakes up in Justin’s body one day everything changes since Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, and A enjoy a very special day that neither of them can forget.  Eventually, A breaks down and tells Rhiannon about his unusual lifestyle and she’s cautiously supportive.  However, A notices that she does seem to have more trouble accepting A on days when A occupies a female body.  As time goes on, A uses any excuse to go see Rhiannon and in the process alerts one of the hosts, Nathan, to A’s existence.  Nathan decides to go public and announce to everyone that he was inhabited by the devil and A’s life begins to get complicated.  Meanwhile, Rhiannon isn’t sure how much longevity their relationship could really have.  Is there a way for them to stay together when there is absolutely no way to predict whose body A will inhabit from day to day?

This award winning book is unique and asks the reader to think about many issues such as how important appearances are and how important gender is.  A doesn’t care about gender, sexual preference, or appearance because to A it is fluid and doesn’t reflect the person inside.  To others, however, A quickly discovers just how important these things can be.  The book also shows how difficult it would be to not have lasting relationships and cohesive memories.  All in all, a very engaging read recommended for those who like unique romances such as The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park.


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