ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Light blue text that says "Book Review" over a stem of while orchids.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! You’ve Reached Sam is out now!

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Magical Realism
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: If I Stay meets Your Name in Dustin Thao’s You’ve Reached Sam, a heartfelt novel about love and loss and what it means to say goodbye.

How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.

What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

Filled with a diverse cast of characters, the heartache of first love and loss, and the kind of friends that can get you through anything, plus a touch of magic, You’ve Reached Sam will make an instant connection with anyone looking for a big emotional romance of a read.


My Review: An astonishing story! I really enjoyed You’ve Reached Sam.

Julie is having a difficult time coping with the recent death of her boyfriend, Sam. Miraculously, when she calls Sam’s phone number, he answers. They have an envious second chance to reconnect and say goodbye, but now Julie struggles even more to let go and live.

Readers will easily be able to connect with this story and empathize with what the characters are experiencing. Not only are characters grieving over Sam but also dealing with the stress of their last year of high school.

There are a myriad of reactions to Sam’s death. Angry, guilty, sad, lost, barely staying afloat. Grief brings some together and tears others apart, as seen between Julie and Sam’s cousin, Mika, and his best friend, Oliver.

I like the fantasy element of the story, of Julie being able to talk to Sam through their phones. It’s what initially piqued my interest in this story. There’s lots of questions about how this is possible, and I like how that’s kept open ended. It also makes sense for them to reconnect by phone based on events prior to the story’s beginning. Julie has to keep this a secret because there are certain (sometimes vague) rules involved and telling someone else could end their connection for good.

I love Sam’s character and appreciated him more and more as the story progressed. In life, Sam was friendly, compassionate and outgoing. He and Julie had a really strong bond. How they met was so adorable; Sam is such a romantic. In death, Sam is still that same kind, caring, loving person, looking out for the ones he left behind but also trying to grapple with being dead. Knowing his hopes and dreams, it’s especially tragic Sam died so young.

The goodbye when it finally came was bittersweet, but really well done by the author. Thao built the story up to a satisfying climatic moment.

You’ve Reached Sam is beautiful, heartbreaking, and feelings. The title and cover art are perfect! Julie and Sam’s relationship was great. I’m glad there were chapters that took place in the past so we could really see the depth of their love.

I highly recommend You’ve Reached Sam. It’s an all around lovely and emotional read.

ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Book Review: This Is Not A Love Scene by S. C. Megale

Thank you to Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press) and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. This Is Not A Love Scene by S. C. Megale is set to be released May 7, 2019.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:  3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: No


Summary (via NetGalley):
. . .

Lights, camera—all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She’s got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection…and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can’t be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric.

Suddenly, Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy—right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won’t be easy for either of them. Maeve must choose between what she needs and what she wants, while Cole has a tendency to avoid decisions altogether. And the future might not wait for either.


My Review:
I almost stopped in the very beginning because of the tone and set-up. It’s definitely an eye-catching hook to begin a story with. But for me, it made me wonder if this book was going to be what I originally thought it was going to be. It took a while (reluctantly) to get into the story.

I like that Maeve doesn’t let her disability define her. Having MS hurts her at times (literally and figuratively) because it’s a reality she can never escape. But she’s determined to make waves in the film industry and won’t let her physical limitations stop her. I also like the group of friends she surrounds herself with – Mags, Elliot, KC, and eventually Cole Stone. Maeve also has really cool and caring parents.

The love story part was so-so, hard to follow at times, and at other times too cringy for words. Cole was a frustrating and confounding love interest.

The deal with KC could’ve come sooner (integrated itself earlier) than it did seemed to randomly pop up and force itself into the plot (or maybe I missed earlier signs that it was heading that way).

I did laugh here and there. Eventually, I got absorbed into the story and the will-they won’t-they what’s-gonna-happen-next. But the jarring transitions between one scene and next were difficult to ignore.

The climax was without a doubt endearing and heartwarming, possibly my favorite part of the story.

Overall, this story was okay. Not what I expected (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but just not for me.

ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Book Review + Book Release Day: Fade to Us by Julia Day

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
Happy Book Release Day! to Fade to Us by Julia Day

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Julia Day’s Fade to Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love.

Brooke’s summer is going to be EPIC— having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s–and Brooke’s not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs.

After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah–the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn’t Natalie’s mentor…

When her summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants–and the love she’s only dreamed about?


My Review:
I loved Fade to Us by Julia Day. It was such a fantastic read that I couldn’t put down for two whole days – it’s that compelling of a story.

I didn’t know much about Asperger’s before reading this and have no experience with people who do have it, but I feel more informed post-read. The way the author presents what it’s like for someone with Asberger’s and how it feels to live with/take care of someone with Asberger’s (to me) came across as beautifully written, natural, honest, and real. But again I can’t say for 100% sure of its authenticity. These impression I base off of my experiences/interactions with people with other developmental and psychological disabilities.

Brooke is an admirably self-less person for giving up so much for someone she technically doesn’t know, who is sometimes too much for her, but who she wants to embrace as family. But this self-lessness has consequences despite its good intentions, creating lots of tension and suspense throughout the story. Brooke struggles to find some kind of balance between her personal life, getting along with her step-father, Jeff, and helping her step-sister, Natalie. Despite these struggles, the progression of Brooke and Natalie’s relationship is (character development-wise) well-written.

Natalie’s character is great as well. She’s a great person in general. I think a few times her family underestimated her tolerance level and ability to observe/understand. I get their hesitation and need to protect her, especially from having meltdowns. But I also agree with one character that she’ll never learn how to deal with the bad parts of life if she’s always sheltered (that goes for anyone). (Again, I’m no expert here). Natalie’s view on things, though at times painfully blunt, are insightful when you really think about what she’s saying. Post-read, I wonder what this story would be like if we got alternating chapters of Brooke and Natalie’s POVS. This story feels very much like it’s both their story, not just Brooke’s.

Micah I liked but he’s more of a background character, a kind of plot device if you will. He’s there but his presence is as limited as his character development, short-lived and not enough depth to dive in to. I appreciate how he (and others) treated and talked to Natalie like she was a person, just like everyone else.

Great story. Wonderful characters. Pretty cover. Awesome that musical theater was involved. And loved the sister-sister relationship. Fade to Us deserves a standing ovation. Brava, Julia Day, brava!