weddings, music, and second chances | review corner

by - 9:10 AM

Hello there!  I'm slowly but surely still on my contemporary grind and have reaffirmed my hypothesis that I definitely enjoy YA contemporaries more via audio because it helps me set my disbelief aside at some of the vague and overly cringe-inducing romances. Apparently, my ears are able to filter out any critical thinking and reduce me to the heart-eyes emoji, but I'm quite okay with that. While I can feel the spark gradually start to die down, this genre has also brought me so much joy (and pain) in the past two months so before I completely burn out on the genre, I have three more books to wrap up! 

pages: 336 | source: library, audio
publication date: June 8th, 2021
genre: ya, contemporary
rating: 7/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

 We Can't Keep Meeting Like This is a heartfelt coming of age story that follows Quinn as she's navigating the summer before college and trying to reconcile her ideology of love (it doesn't exist) with her family's wedding planning business and the return of her childhood crush. The story highlights the exploration of finding new passions as well as rediscovering interests from the past that might have slipped away and become simply mundane. This was my first Rachel Lynn Solomon novel and it quite frankly blew me away because I found myself adoring the characters and also feeling incredibly seen by the representation of mental health. The characters are able to talk about their experiences so candidly, it helps to create this connection to the readers, making the reading process all the more personal.

I may be a little biased but as someone who has dabbled very sparingly with lever harps I was so excited to see them shine in this book. As gorgeous as pedal harps are, I loved watching Quinn experience all that their lever cousins have to offer - beyond the beautiful wedding and classical music it's typically known for. It made me want to pull my harp out from its case and just play with a sense of excitement and abandon that shows how alive music can be. As Quinn explores her interests outside of her family's business, the instrument becomes part of her journey to creating her own path for her future. Additionally, as she begins to redefine love and her own identity, I couldn't help but fall in love with Quinn's relationship with Tarik and the maturity of their relationship even with the ups and downs of their mental health and personal struggles have officially made them another couple that I adore.

ultimate verdict - heartfelt, harps, and happy moments

pages: 304 | source: library, physical
publication date: November 9th, 2021
genre: ya, contemporary, magical realism
rating: 7.3/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

Hello, this book brought me lots of pain and now I get to share that with you via this review. You've Reached Sam is a tear-inducing story that had so much of Twitter sobbing when it released and because of that, I've avoided this book for a couple months. Now that the pain has numbed itself down to a small ache, it's time to tell you why this story wrecked my soul. 

You've Reached Sam is a story that follows grief and the stages of healing that comes after losing someone you love. After her boyfriend Sam was killed in a tragic car accident, Julie didn't think there was hope or purpose for a future. One day, she decides to call his number just to hear his voicemail but he picks up. What follows is a heartbreakingly beautiful journey down memory lane as Sam reminds Julie of their shared experiences and also gives her hope to make new ones with those still around her. The way that grief was portrayed within just the first few chapters was enough for me to feel incredibly connected to both characters and want to cry with them. As this follows Julie's healing after a traumatic loss, it's not the easiest story to read and there sometimes felt like an imbalance of emotional pull throughout. The beginning and the end completely broke my heart whereas I felt pretty mellow during the middle portion, a small detail that didn't detract from my reading experience overall but just a point to note. 

I appreciated how Dustin Thao allowed for grief to be portrayed in different ways so that even if I couldn't resonate with Jenny and her decisions, I could understand her pain through the other characters. This story truly is sentimental and a beautiful second chance at closure and letting go.

ultimate verdict - tears, tears, and more tears

pages: 352 | source: library, ebook
publication date: July 13th, 2021
genre: ya, contemporary
rating: 5/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

Jenny Go is a talented cellist who runs into the main singer of Korea's newest kpop sensation XOXO one night and without recognizing who he is, they embark on a little adventure through the streets of Los Angeles. When her mother decides to visit Korea to help Jenny's grandmother with her upcoming surgery, Jenny decides to follow and transfers for a semester to one of Korea's top art schools. Deciding to expand her horizons, she's ready to meet new friends and her Korean culture - what does doesn't expect is to run into the same kpop idol and his fellow members as classmates. 

XOXO is the epitome of every kpop fan's dream - running into a popular idol on the streets of your hometown and spending an innocent but memorable date only to lose connection with each other but magically reunited months later at an arts school in Korea. If you go into this with even a shred of disbelief, it's going to be quite a challenging book to enjoy. But, if you enter with the goal to feel all the cute fluffy emotions of love and new friendships, then this will be just the book for you. Jaewoo and Jenny were adorable in a sense of first love and romantic butterflies but if I'm honest, they paled in comparison to the friendships that Jenny made. I loved the easy-going banter between Gi Tak, Angela, Sori, and the members of XOXO just added the breath of freshness that kept me engaged beyond the romantic plot. This really is a story where you have to suspend your disbelief because as a music major, I could not imagine cancelling a hard to find session in a practice room for a couple hours with a boy, idol or not, but maybe that's just me? Regardless, this is the perfect story if you're looking for something to warm your heart with both the romance and the friendships.

ultimate verdict - finding new love, new friends, and new passions

I just checked my stats so far for 2022 and could not believe that I've read more contemporary this year than any other genre. With that revelation, I feel the need to pick up something fantasy in the future just to balance things out a bit? 

If you've read any of these stories, please let me know your thoughts below! Are you a believer of love and its grand gestures or do you prefer something more sweet and subtle?

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  1. I love the premise of We Can't Keep Meeting Like This. I absolutely adore wedding tropes in books and I do think I would enjoy this one. I love how you found a connection with Quinn through music, I think it's awesome that you play the harp! Thanks for the reviews, Riv!

    1. thank you Emily! if you pick We Can't Keep Meeting Like This, please let me know your thoughts! one month later and I'm still in love with the characters and story! 💖

  2. Ah I'm so glad you're loving your contemporary reads lately, my contemporary lover heart is so HAPPY to hear that 💖 I love Rachel Lynn Solomon's books so much, We Cant' Keep Meeting Like This was such a great read and I found XOXO so much fun to read as well! :)

    1. yay for contemporaries! i can't wait to pick up more rachel lynn solomon's works after we can't keep meeting like this! 💖

  3. I still blame you for "comforting" me while I was wallowing in a ball of saddness after I finished You've Reached Sam :D

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