Review: Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.

Emma Mills is one of my top YA authors and I have been really looking forward to Lucky Caller for awhile. It did take me much longer to get into the story than I was expecting, but I did end up really enjoying it.

There were a lot of things present that I expect in an Emma Mills book – a sarcastic main character, witty banter, a close – if somewhat odd/dysfunctional – family, and a group of friends you wish you were a part of. For some reason, things just didn’t really click for me, though, until I was about half way through the story. The friend group wasn’t quite as close and all consuming as it’s been in other books. The four of them only really hang out at school for class related things, though they do have a group text going on. I don’t really feel like we got to know Sasah or Joydeep very well, but that’s not to say that I didn’t like them. Joydeep was completely there for comic relief, but I loved him. He was probably my favorite part of the book.

I did like Jamie and the awkward, slow burn romance with Nina, as well. He was very sweet. I wish we would’ve gotten a little more information about him, though. We never find out what the deal is with his parents and why he lives with his grandparents.

I had some problems with Nina, too. I’m not exactly a talkative person comfortable with discussing feelings and all that, but there were so many times where I just wanted to yell at her to spit it out already. There were also a couple of times that she didn’t necessarily lie, but kept quiet about things that really impacted the people around her, that I just couldn’t understand. I found her behavior often very frustrating and it took me a long while to like her.

I know it sounds like I had a lot of problems with this – and, admittedly, I did – but after I got around half way through I really began to enjoy it. The radio show group started to gel a little more and Nina didn’t frustrate me quite as much. I enjoyed the relationship she had with her sisters and I loved how her future step-dad, Dan, really stepped up for her towards the end. Things ended pretty cutely and I was glad that I made myself push through the beginning chapters to get to it.

Overall, I enjoyed Lucky Caller. While it wasn’t my favorite Emma Mills book (that will forever be This Adventure Ends), it was still cute with some fun banter and a sweet, slow burn romance. Fans of Mills will definitely want to check it out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

 

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

What I Liked

*This book gave me ALL THE FEELS. It has been quite awhile since a book made my little black heart feel like this. I just loved all the sweet scenes between Ruby and Aaron. For a good portion of the book I didn’t always understand why they fell for each other like they did, but once they got to interact in person I definitely believed it and was 100% Team Ruron.

*I’ve always been a fan of non-traditional formatting and the use of e-mails/texts/IMs. The first 40% or so is told that way and I was beginning to think that it was maybe a little too much when it changed instead to Ruby’s POV. It was actually a little jarring and first and I started to miss the texts and IMs when it changed again. While it did go back to primarily normal narrative style in the latter half, it still had some of the texts and I felt it was balanced well.

*The Slooooow burn. I’ve read one other book by this author – who is known for her slow burn romance – and thought people kind of confused slow paced for slow burn. This one, though, while not at all fast paced, did not feel like a slow story. With the way the story was told in the first half there was no room for the extraneous text that can bog a story down. It was all character development and relationship building and banter.

What I Didn’t Like

*Where the first half or so of the book had a steady pace, once it switched away from the e-mails/texts/IMs I felt it was a little repetitive. I felt like Ruby would kind of spiral and she would just repeat the same things over and over again and it really started to get on my nerves. I think that Zapata could edit things down just a bit and it would still have all the emotional impact with a few (hundred) less pages.

*If this book had a soundtrack, then “Gorgeous” by Taylor Swift would play on repeat. Ruby spent SO. MUCH. TIME. thinking about how beautiful Aaron was and how she had trouble looking at him, etc., etc. It got old really fast.

*While I liked Ruby, I found her kind of annoying. She was very sensitive and cried pretty much all the time. She also came across really immature a good amount of the time.

*I didn’t like how Aaron was so insistent that Ruby shouldn’t get a full time job just because it wasn’t something she would love. I appreciate the fact that he wanted to encourage her to follow her dreams and do what would make her happy, but it just feels so impractical to not have steady income. She could’ve gotten a job and still done her business on the side until she figured things out.

Overall

Overall, I did really enjoy Dear Aaron. Though there were obviously some things I took issue with, there were many funny moments and some great character development, and I totally shipped the romance. Aaron was just so, so sweet with Ruby and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’m looking forward to reading some more by this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars