A FAVORITE YA ROM-COM: Better than the Movies Review

Summary (from the publisher):

better-than-the-movies-9781534467620_hrPerpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, the pair grow closer, and Liz is forced to reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.


My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

IMG_4157Everyone knows that I love rom-coms in book form, but I also love rom-coms in movie form, especially ones from the ‘80s and ‘90s, much like Liz in Lynn Painter’s YA contemporary, Better Than the Movies. I’ve really loved recognizing all the nods to popular rom-com films on the  cover! Better Than the Movies features some of my favorite tropes, like enemies-to-lovers, against senior prom season and Liz’s love for rom-coms. Liz teams up with her childhood enemy & next-door enemy, Wes, to help get her forever crush, Michael, as her prom date. As Wes and Liz spend time together to get Liz her prom moment, Liz finds herself actually enjoying spending time with Wes and begins to question if her beloved rom-coms gave her the right picture of a happily ever after ending after all. 

Better Than the Movies was such a fun and adorable take on enemies-to-lovers. I feel like prom used to be such a major setting for YA contemporaries a few years ago, and it was fun being back in that world for Liz’s quest for the perfect prom date. The book gave me slight To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before vibes, since Liz and Wes kind’ve fake date in order for Liz to spend more time with Michael, who’s recently moved back to town and has hit it off once again with Wes. Wes also slightly reminded me of Peter K between his humor and personality, but was actually a slightly more down-to-earth version of him. Liz and Wes’ relationship was really fun, and I loved their mini adventures and mishaps. The book definitely has those classic rom-com vibes because of the mishaps that occur again and again as Liz tries to get closer to Michael. 

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BEACH BAG READ: The Siren Review

the-siren-56Summary (from the publisher):

In the midst of a sizzling hot summer, some of Hollywood’s most notorious faces are assembled on the idyllic Caribbean island of St. Genesius to film The Siren, starring dangerously handsome megastar Cole Power playing opposite his ex-wife, Stella Rivers. The surefire blockbuster promises to entice audiences with its sultry storyline and intimately connected cast.

Three very different women arrive on set, each with her own motive. Stella, an infamously unstable actress, is struggling to reclaim the career she lost in the wake of multiple, very public breakdowns. Taylor, a fledgling producer, is anxious to work on a film she hopes will turn her career around after her last job ended in scandal. And Felicity, Stella’s mysterious new assistant, harbors designs of her own that threaten to upend everyone’s plans.

With a hurricane brewing offshore, each woman finds herself trapped on the island, united against a common enemy. But as deceptions come to light, misplaced trust may prove more perilous than the storm itself.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’m soon going to share a ‘books to add to your beach bag’ post because I feel like I used that phrase for a few of my recent contemporary reads. The Siren will definitely be in that post for its Caribbean setting and addicting mystery. Following three female leads, the book takes place in June on the island film location for megastar Cole Powers’ latest movie, The Siren, directed by his son… and starring his ex-wife, Stella Rivers. Stella brings her new personal assistant, Felicity, along for filming, but Felicity has secret motives for getting so close to Stella and Cole. Producer Taylor begins to suspect that Stella and Felicity are keeping secrets, but she’s too focused on covering the scandal that ended her job at her father’s production company. A storm headed to the island threatens to tear the film and the women’s secrets apart. 

It’s either that mystery meets contemporary books are becoming more popular – I’m thinking of recent releases like Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan Is Killing It or Mia P. Manansala’s  Aresenic and Adobo – or I’m figuring out that I’m really into this genre. It took me about the first hundred pages or so to really get into The Siren, but once Katherine St. John’s establishes Stella, Taylor, and Felicity’s backgrounds, I was hooked. I liked the mixed formatting of present day perspectives from the three female leads, news articles, and excerpts from Stella’s memoir. Trigger warning for sexual assault and drug abuse, as these two elements are unfortunately parts of each women’s relationship or history with the male film lead. Some of the story felt very relevant to the Me Too Movement and Hollywood, between Taylor’s work history and Stella’s past. The book has a slightly escapist feel, between its island and film settings, although Katherine St. John proves again and again that there’s a lot lurking under the glitz and glam… 

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