There are a ton of reviews that I forgo posting to the blog if I feel like they aren’t in-depth or long enough to stand on their own. But I still like the idea of being able to point to my thoughts on a certain book, even if the review is on the shorter side. Enter: mini reviews! I’ve read a lot of romance these past few months, so here’s a round-up of three reviews for romances across YA and adult that I’ve read so far in 2022.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
I decided to give The Summer I Turned Pretty a re-read 7 years later since the adaptation is slated for sometime this year, and overall, I enjoyed my time with it!
Somehow, I think I enjoyed this more than I did when I was 15. I remember thinking that Belly was so annoying back then, but I didn’t mind the teenage angst and antics so much in the present. Belly’s immature actions and fickle, fast-paced thoughts make sense for age (she’s only 15). And I think 22 year old me was really able understand her character’s voice now that I’m a little older.
The book itself isn’t without its flaws; the chapters end so abruptly which was especially noticeable while listening to the audiobook. But the story has a lot of heart, extremely tangible characters, and of course that transporting, summery beach setting that kind of makes up for its short comings.
As far as the love triangle, I can’t exactly remember who I liked more way back when, but Jeremiah really stole the show this time around. But that might’ve been because I thought his character was most consistent when it came to personality. Jeremiah is the funny, more carefree brother, which was fun to read about. Contrastingly, we don’t see much behind Conrad’s stoic facade in this first book.
The cliffhanger is this one is also super real, so I’m looking forward to diving into the sequel. This re-read has me so excited to see this story on screen!
Star Scale: N/A
Grade Scale: B+
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
Before starting All Rhodes Lead Here, I had a feeling that I would love it, and right I was. Just as I was starting to doubt my enjoyment of Mariana Zapata’s slow burn romances (beyond Kulti and Winnipeg), Rhodes came in and proved me wrong.
This story was such a believable romance in how it continued to evolve and build with all of Rhodes’ small gestures and his use of nicknames for Aurora (I’ve seen some reviews that really disliked the “buddy” nickname that Rhodes uses, so I was a bit wary of it at first, but I ended up finding it super sweet when read context. It’s also not the only nickname he uses for her). My gripe with some of MZ’s other books is that the small hints we see didn’t feel romantic at all, or they were so few and far between that it didn’t feel authentic and believable. MZ writes long romances, so it’s always really disappointing if it doesn’t feel worthwhile in the end.
All Rhodes Lead Here didn’t follow that exact formula that I’d grown use to from her, and I liked that it surprised me. We didn’t have to wait until the very last chapter for the confessions, and we also got see Aurora and Rhodes have conversations about the future of their relationship after overcoming that third act conflict.
I also have to mention that this book was also just tailor made for me since I’ll read anything with the single dad trope haha.
I don’t have any big gripes beyond some of the the ending conflict and revelations not being incorporated as well as they could have been; they’re thrown into the last two chapters which made the final resolution a bit overly long for me. But overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this one and I can totally see myself re-reading it in the future.
Star scale: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Grade scale: A-
The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle
Honestly, I almost DNFed this one around 65%. I’m starting to think that Karina Halle as an author may just continue to be a hit or miss for me. She can hook me with a concept, and set it up extremely well in the beginning, but…that’s it. This was a hit in the first half, but the final stretch really dragged.
The romance was kind of cute, and overall, the story had a few funny moments, but it wasn’t as a great as I’d hoped. I didn’t feel anything for the characters, and some of themes weren’t as seamless as they could have been.
I think the author tried to put a lot into Piper’s character, and it just didn’t work me. We’re hit over the head with speeches toward the end which I presume are supposed to help characterize Piper and showcase her growth, but they felt forced and extremely clunky to read.
We also get this weird double-epilogue that left me confused (why do we need two time jumps?).
I’m sure there are some things I liked, but I honestly can’t think of much in the moment. I wanted to like this so much, but it was kind of a let down in the end.
Star scale: ⭐️⭐️ (2 stars)
Grade Scale: D+