ARC Review – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen. This book will be published in exactly one month. So, be sure to add it to your calendars because you won’t want to miss it!

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ARC Mini Review – My Mechanical Romance

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth, which is a YA Romance that will be released on Tuesday. I didn’t plan to review this one until its release day, but I flew through it much quicker than expected. So, I figured…why not?

Opposites attract in this battle-robot-building YA romance from the NYT best-selling author of The Atlas Six.

Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.
 
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve made more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made each other and the team better. Because girls do belong in STEM.
 
In her YA debut, Alexene Farol Follmuth, author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake), explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty. With an adorable, opposites-attract romance at its center and lines that beg to be read aloud, My Mechanical Romance is swoonworthy perfection.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Holiday House Publishing for a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a cute, quick YA read. I finished it in less than a day (mostly in one sitting) because I didn’t really want to put it down. The writing was very contemporary with lots of fun pop culture references, which I enjoyed. I was honestly a bit surprised by how complex the characters and themes were in this book. Through the POVs of the two main characters, it tackled the effects of divorce on children, the hardships faced by girls and people of color in STEM, how others’ expectations can shape who we think we should be, and the negative effects that high-stress academic environments can have on children, among other issues. Both of the main characters kept me engaged with the story, and I liked that the story came from a combination of their two very opposite POVs. However, my favorite character was Dash, the funny, friendly best friend who needs to be protected at all costs. These types of secondary characters are often my favorites, and while reading, I found myself really wanting a book with that type of character as the star. So, if anyone has any recommendations, let me know! Although I enjoyed the depth and personal growth of Bel and Teo and think the messages in this book are important and well-delivered, I couldn’t help but feel like their romance was a little lackluster. It didn’t begin until pretty late in the book, and I didn’t find there to be a ton of nail-biting build up to it either. The relationship felt like it took a back seat as the catalyst to the characters’ personal journeys, which was fine but just wasn’t what I expected from a book with romance in the title. Overall, this was an enjoyable YA novel with powerful themes and an important message about the importance of working hard to make your life what you want it to be regardless of others’ expectations. I enjoyed it quite a bit despite my reservations about the romance element. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Review – If You Change Your Mind

Hello, everyone! Today I am reviewing If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber. This was another ARC that I’ve been looking forward to a lot but just didn’t get to read before the publication date. On the bright side, that means it is out now, and you should go buy it if you are looking for a gay summer romcom!

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.

Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.
 
But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a wonderful ode to the romcom with delightful summer vibes. In general, the book felt like a relaxing day at the beach. It had its emotional and tense moments, which definitely had me in my feelings, but it was all so easy to read and felt familiar and comfortable. I also just really like books with writing and bookish themes. This book had both with the main character being a writer (of screenplays) and a bookstore employee. I liked the inclusion of Harry’s screenplay and thought it provided an interesting window into his psyche. However, I think it would have worked better if it had been included in fewer, longer interludes and wasn’t after every chapter. It just made the story feel too choppy and got annoying at certain points where I just wanted to read the next part of the main narrative.

Harry was such a great protagonist. He was a bit of a mess, but let’s be honest. Weren’t we all as teenagers? Or if we’re being REALLY honest… aren’t we all still a bit of a mess? Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I definitely found it to be relatable. lol. I think the author did a great job of using the character of Harry to tap into that quintessential teenage (and human) struggle of trying to figure out your path in life. Harry starts out his journey like a bulldozer intent on sticking to his master plan no matter what gets in his way, but he learns an important life lesson: there’s more than one path to reaching one’s dreams, and the path you choose to take can make all the difference. He also learned the significance of being present in one’s life and enjoying the things and people right in front of you.

The love interests and other characters were all great too. Grant had tons of charisma, and Logan was just absolutely adorable. I also really loved Foster and wish the author had played up the character and the relationship between him and Harry a bit more. I liked that Harry had three very different guys who were into him because it kept things from feeling like the run of the mill love triangle. However, Foster got so much less time compared to the other two that it did feel a little like he was the fourth wheel in an otherwise super passionate threesome (Important Note: This story doesn’t have polyamory or threesomes, but I wouldn’t have been mad if it did. lol.). Harry’s relationship with his best friend was also a highlight for me. I loved how close they were, but their relationship also added lots of drama to the story while putting Harry in a tight spot that I definitely didn’t envy. I didn’t agree with his choice, but I can understand why he made it. I just kept waiting for it all to blow up in his face. I do think his friend got over the situation a bit too fast, but it also illustrated how conflict can be resolved through honest, open communication. So, I can live with it.

Overall, this was a fantastic romcom and the perfect summer read. The characters were relatable, and I just really enjoyed seeing Harry grow over the course of the story. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.