Skip to main content

Small Town Hearts Review


Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (336 pages) Purchase at your local bookstore!*
Overview: Babe lives in Oar's Rest, an idyllic Maine tourist town. She works at the Busy Bean, which she loves, and she's ready for an epic summer with her best friends Chad and Penny who will both be going to college in town at the end of the summer. Nothing has to change. And then it does. Babe's ex-girlfriend that no one knew about comes back to town after ghosting her all year, Penny and Chad, who have a love story for the ages, break up for no reason, and a hot new boy starts renting Babe's mom's house. She doesn't know what to do with so much change, and the thought that her future is so uncertain does not help. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Babe really faces a lot of shocking things at once. She's out of the school system for the first time and suddenly the rug gets pulled out from under her. I think that readers will really identify with Babe's fear of change and the way that she hangs on to negative people in her life because she doesn't know what she'll do without them.
Lucy was probably my favorite character. She works with Babe at the Busy Bean, and she's always been on the outside of all the high school social groups. I love how she befriends Babe and works to remind her that the friends she once had aren't the only friends she can have.
I guess my main issue with these characters is that they don't quite pop with the full dimension that I was craving. It was missing just a little fleshing out that would have helped me understand all the characters and their motivations better. I get not wanting to face change, but Penny never seemed like a good friend to begin with.

Plot: 3.5 I loved a lot of parts of this book. Living in a resort town myself, I enjoyed hearing about another girl watching the tourists flood into town and finding all the little gems that just belong to the locals. I also had fun experiencing Oar's Rest. All the scenes in the coffee shops were just delicious. For some reason, I  gravitate to books where characters work in restaurants. The problem, though, is that the book tried to go in every single direction at once. Everything was brought to the forefront instead of reducing threads to subplots leaving certain storylines a little half baked.

Writing: 4 The themes that Vale explores makes the book. While there were moments that got a bit bogged down by a bit of overwriting, Vale shines when she talks about the setting. Even though I was sitting in my house, watching the snow fall, I could smell the ocean and feel the costal sun on my face. I had a great time learning about Oar's Rest, the coffee shop, and the cool houses that all the different characters live in. If the plot was a bit more focused, I would have been all over this book.
I appreciate that Vale wrote the characters post senior year. It has a very YA voice, but it has old enough characters to set it in the older YA group. It's wonderful to see the questions about adulthood hitting you in the face and being explored on the page. I can't wait to see the What's Next? explored more in the future.

I can't wait to chat with Lillie on Friday about making Oar's Rest come to life, her favorite part of writing the book, and telling stories based on shifting friendships!

Links of Interest:
Long Way Down: Review Here
Waiting For Fitz: Review Here
Shout: Review Here
What's Coming Up In March: Here

*The purchase link is an affiliate link which means I may get a small commission at no extra charge to you.
I received this book through the publisher for an honest early review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The History of Jane Doe

The History of Jane Doe by Micheal Belanger (2018)
Overview: Ray knows the entire history of his hometown, Burgerville, Connecticut. He also knows lots of different tidbits about the world as well. But, for his first written account of history, the story must center on loss, why, and fleeting moments of happiness. He has to tell the story of his first girlfriend, hidden by the anonymity of the name Jane Doe. Told in Before and After chapters, Ray explores the highs and lows he had in his fleeting relationship with Jane and his recovery from crushing loss. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Jane is coping with clinical depression that probably stems from a combination of family history and past trauma. She goes between trying to hide her scars and struggles and exposing them, tiny piece by piece to the people she loves.
Ray is fascinated by Jane and the way she looks at the world and the town he's lived in all his life with fresh eyes.
His friend, Simon, is dorky and not quite all together b…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (306 pages) Buy At Your Local Bookstore*
Overview: It's just one elevator ride. Just one elevator ride to the rest of Will's life. Eight floors takes so long when you're headed to kill someone. Even in revenge. Even for justice. Even when your brother was just murdered. It's even longer when every stop brings someone who's left your life back in. There's so much to learn before Will hits the lobby. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Because of the atmosphere and the point of the story, we don't get super into the characters. They each represent a stop on a horrible cycle. It starts with Buck, Will's older brother, Shawn's, older brother figure. When Buck got killed, Shawn had to avenge his death, which got him killed. He also meets his Uncle Mark, an aspiring filmmaker who's death lead to Will's father's death because of the Rules. Each character doesn't exist to explore themselves or have their own motives- they…

You Asked For Perfect

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman (March 5)
Overview: Ariel has to be perfect. His whole identity rests on him getting the best grades, being first chair, being valedictorian, and, the culmination of all of his hard work... getting into Harvard. But the second chair violinist with nearly the same GPA also wants a spot in that freshman class, so Ariel has to work even harder than anyone could imagine to guarantee that it's his. But only a few weeks into senior year, Ariel starts to fall apart, and he's left to wonder if his well being or his pride is more important. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 There will be a lot of people who read this book and blame Ariel for being absent from his friendships, pulling away from his family, and sacrificing his physical well being for a goal that isn't even assured to him. All his effort and missed life could be for nothing. But those who say that don't understand how broken the education system is, particularly in America. They cl…

Is YA For Me?

I've seen a lot of different conversations taking place on Twitter that all come back to a central theme. The YA space is controlled by adults. For the most part, they are the ones with the purchasing power, they have jobs in the industry, they are in a better position to amplify their voices about how they feel about different books and the category as a whole. I've been thinking about these conversations as a whole, and it really does come back to the intended audience not owning the space and what that means for the category and the conversations around it.
As a teen who's heavily involved in the YA community, I sometimes feel awkward reading all the different, slightly varied takes from adults. Some make blanket statements for themselves and some work with teens and try to be a conduit to add them to the conversation. Very rarely do I come across a real teen who gets an amplified voice in the conversation (definitely go check out Vicky Who Reads on Twitter because, as…

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

The Dead Queen's Club

The Dead Queen's Club by Hannah Capin (January 29)
Overview: For fans of European history, specifically Henry VIII and his many wives, this is a treat. Modernized and set in high school, this version is the tale of all of Henry's living ex-girlfriends banding together to find the real reason behind the death of two of his former girlfriends, Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard. Narrated by Annie, better known as Cleves, the reader falls for Henry's charm but also sees the cracks growing in his perfect facade. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Cleves has a authoritative voice that I very much enjoyed. She's outspoken and uncompromising as she makes a place for herself in her new school senior year. Even though she marches to the beat of her own drum, she's found a place for herself among the cheerleaders who genuinely love how unique she is; but it helps that she's already friends with Henry, football star who practically owns the school.
The other characters have their places a…

Two Can Keep a Secret

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (327 pages)
Overview: Ellery and Ezra have moved to Echo Ridge right when the beloved science teacher is killed in a hit and run. They come across the body on their drive into town which sets the tone for their time in Echo Ridge. It seems that the killer of the homecoming queen from five years ago has returned with a slew of threats against the new court. And then, Brooke, one of the princesses, goes missing. Echo Ridge goes from a rich, suburban New England town to the sight of a possible serial killer, and true crime fanatic, Ellery, is going to solve it the mystery. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Ellery and Ezra aren't super memorable. They're fine. Likable enough, but nothing stands out to make them special. Ezra is reduced to a minor, minor character, even though he's originally painted as important and Ellery is your classic new girl in town, true crime fanatic. I just can't find anything that stands out about her as much as I w…