Hope your week is going well! I have a few reviews stashed away that I haven’t gotten around to sharing until now. These are two fairly well-liked books and although I enjoyed them overall, there might be some controversial opinions coming up. Be forewarned 🙂
Emmy & Oliver (Robin Benway)
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?
Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.
She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.
Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.
He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.
Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?
Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.
What I Liked
- I loved Emmy, Oliver, Drew and Caro, and the dynamics between them. Emmy Drew and Caro had grown up together. They shared many inside jokes and loved poking fun at each other. It was initially hard for Oliver, coming back after a long absence, to be a part of it.
- Each character had their stories and struggles, even Drew and Caro who were multi-dimensional even as secondary characters.
- The first part of this book really drew me in and kept me turning the pages. The characters struck me as genuine and lovable and I just wanted to keep reading more about them.
What I Didn’t Like
- I was a bit impatient with the parents in this book. They were overbearing, and I get that they loved their children, but I didn’t find them to be relatable.
- The book lost momentum in the second half. The conflict wasn’t satisfying and it was a bit predictable how it would be resolved. I was hoping that the characters would struggle a bit more.
- People cried a lot in the end of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love dramatic scenes but I felt that there was a bit too much crying, which gave the ending a melodramatic feel.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars
Despite my misgivings about the parental figures and the slight bit of melodrama, Emmy & Oliver is a sweet and overall enjoyable YA contemporary read.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee)
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
What I Liked
- Loved the humour in the dialogue and narration, which made this a fun and easy read.
- Loved the main character Monty, who was far from perfect. He loved drinking and hook ups, and it was a nightmare for him to run his father’s estate. However I loved all his flaws which made him a believable and interesting character.
- I enjoyed the setting and the premise. I liked reading about Monty and Percy’s grand tour and the cities that they visited, which made me want to travel so much! I loved the author’s notes section at the end which explained the historical basis of the major aspects of the book, which was so interesting to read. I am usually a bit intimidated by historical fiction but I loved that this book was so easy to get into.
What I Didn’t Like
- I felt indifferent towards Percy and Felicity. Percy was sweet and soft-spoken (usually my type!) however at one point I was frustrated by his indecisiveness. Felicity was a strong-willed female character and usually I loved reading about this personality type, however I felt that there could be more depth to her character. She was courageous and intelligent but at least in this book she didn’t appear to have any fears or insecurities, which I think all characters should have, even the “strong” characters.
- The ending was a bit predictable.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was a fun and humorous read. Though I didn’t find Percy or Felicity as relatable, I loved Monty and was always eager to read about his adventures.
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