Rummanah Aasi

Description: Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
 Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter. And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Review: Alex, Approximately is the perfect summer romance read and an updated homage to You've Got Mail with some depth. Bailey Rydell, aka "Mink," is a self-described "habitual evader" and an "artful dodger" who lives far away from her online friend "Alex." Bailey and Alex have never met in real life. When Bailey moves across the country to the California town where Alex lives, she is afraid her online chemistry with Alex won't translate into the real world. Nonetheless, she begins to adapt to her new surroundings, lands a job, makes a friend, and faces an adorable nemesis named Porter.
  I am a huge movie fan and I loved how Bennett included classic films into the story whether it is from Bailey's vintage fashion with nods to Lana Turner and Roman Holiday to quotes from iconic movies that frame each chapter. Bailey's reserved, introverted personality is pitted with Porter's easy going surfer attitude quite well and effectively creates tension to the antagonistic romance trope. Both Bailey and Porter have personal issues and complicated tragic backstories that give their characters depth without dragging the book into teen angst and melodrama. I also appreciated the inclusion of diverse characters such as Porter, who is half Polynesian/Chinese and half white, and important secondary characters like Bailey's friend Grace who is half Nigerian and half British. I would have loved to know more about Porter's ethnic background and his family. 
 I also appreciated that the author didn't confine Bailey and Porter's relationship to just the emails, but that their relationship grows organically. The fact that they met and clicked online is just an added bonus for the reader and also opens to the door to misunderstandings and missed opportunities that drive the plot further. Once I started this book I had a very hard time putting it down because I was enjoying Bailey's and Alex's banter. Bailey is resilient, introverted yet vulnerable and it was so fun watching her come out of her shell. Likewise Porter is so utterly charming but also wary of putting himself out there. This is a book that should top every romance reader's reading list.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, mentions of drug abuse and underage drinking, and a fade to black sex scene. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West


Description: Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends. Life couldn’t be more perfect! At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news. Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Review: I have absolutely adored Jenny Han's To All the Boys I Loved Before series and was so sad to see this series end. Lara Jean Song Covey embarks on her senior year of high school and is faced with lots of unknowns about the future. Lara Jean has never embraced change, but when her dream college plans go awry she needs to be honest with herself about what she truly wants. Throughout this series we have watched Lara Jean slowly evolve from a sheltered girl to that of a confident girl. She is still thoughtful, crafty, and an adorable girl next door. Some readers complain that she still acts like she is a tween, but I disagree and find her wholesomeness refreshing.
  The book's pacing matches quite nicely with what it feels like as a high school senior. The first half moves along with little to no conflict as Lara Jean applies to colleges and waits to hear back. Her widowed father is also moving forward and plans to re-marry which brings a little tension in the Covey household. The second half of the book is where the action kicks off with lots of big life choices to think about such as the discussion of taking her relationship with Peter Kavinsky to the next level and their anxieties of maintaining a relationship as they go to college.
 I will admit that I wasn't crazy about Peter Kavinsky. I was more of a John Ambrose McClaren kind of gal, but I have to say that Peter Kavinsky won me over in this book. He is patient with Lara Jean and respects her decisions. While Peter and Lara Jean's romance is a big part of the book it does not overshadow Lara Jean's growth to a confident young woman who learns to choose for herself, which is refreshing.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, underage drinking, and references to sex. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
4 Responses
  1. Anne Bennett Says:

    I like the way you write your reviews. I always think I am going to get organized and stick with a format for my reviews and then some wild idea pops into my head and I abandon previous plans.


  2. These both are lovely escape books, perfect for this time of year. I read Alex and really liked it, especially since I adore You’ve Got Mail. I still haven’t read Jenny Han, you keep reminding me.....


  3. Anne Bennett Says:

    In answer to your question: Read the Abhorsen Trilogy by Nix first (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen), then read the prequel (Clairiel) and finish up with Goldenhand.


  4. Both of these sound like fun!


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