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

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…

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…

Have a Little Faith In Me Review

Have a Little Faith In Me by Sonia Hartl
Overview: CeCe and Paul have no reason being at Jesus camp. Paul gave up his faith years ago when his paster father abandoned his mother,  and CeCe never really believed to start with. They're not there to find their faith again, though. CeCe is on a secret mission to win back her born again boyfriend who dumped her after having sex. Whether it's love or just proving something to herself, CeCe is determined to get Ethan back, even if that means fake dating her best friend, Paul, and listening to hours of sermons. While CeCe shakes the camp up, she starts to shake up some ideas of her own about what happened with her and Ethan. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I love CeCe. She's bold, unflinching, bright, and impulsive. Unafraid to be quiet about her own beliefs she challenges a lot of the misogynistic happenings at the camp and vocally questions why girls are left to shoulder the responsibility for "tempting" boys by not being modes…

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…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

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…

Into YA with Shana Youngdahl

I'm so excited to announce this interview with Shana today. Her book blew me away and kept me prisoner on the couch while I raced to finish it. I loved how she took such a complex format and ambitious story and made it feel so easy. I really admire that as a writer and enjoy it as a reader. If you haven't had the chance to read As Many Nows As I Can Get, check out my review for some context on what we talk about.  Anyway, I'll let you get to the interview, but I want to thank Shana for doing this interview and chatting with me cause she really is the sweetest. 
1. The book is told out of sequence covering a broad span of time from senior year, the summer after, and through the entire freshman year of college. Did you write the book out of order or did you piece it together later? Was that your original plan? Did it take very intricate plotting to piece together a very specific way? 
Yes, it’s non-linear to reflect Scarlett’s understanding of time. It mostly covers her Senior …

Spin

Spin by Lamar Giles (387 pages)
Overview: Fuse and Kya have lost their best friend. #ParSecNation lost their leader, and the Dark Nation has decided to do something about it, even if it means terrorizing those who were closest of her. DJ Paris Secord, or ParSec was murdered at a warehouse she planned to throw a party in. Fuse and Kya found her when they'd come to make amends for different issues they'd rather the public, or the cops, not know about. But they both want to see Paris's killer caught, so they might have to overcome their differences and work together. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Fuse, Paris, and Kya all get a turn to narrate the story which I enjoyed. They each have their own voices and personalities that really shine through and bring a different angle to the same storyline.
Fuse is rich. Her dad runs a successful marketing company, and she shifted what she learned from him to making Paris's music and brand famous. She helped Paris climb the ranks, but, at t…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (January 29)
Overview: Eden has always been the irresponsible one with poor grades, a loud mouth, and a general air of irresponsibility, but it's her friend Bonnie that takes over the headlines of every major news station in the UK. Bonnie disappears with her ,music teacher and parent boyfriend, Jack Cohen, better known to everyone at Kett as Mr. Cohen. Eden can't believe that a friend would do this, but, suddenly, when she gets a WhatsApp message from Bonnie, she's clued in to their runaway mission. Pressured by her family, Bonnie's, and the cops, Eden refuses to tell them what they know because she made a promise to her best friend. Overall: 3.5 

Characters: 3 Okay, I guess I can see some of the thinking behind these characters, but it wasn't articulated very well. Eden refuses to tell on her friend even though she knows how wrong and serious the situation is. I can see making a promise and being hesitant, but I can't see a sixt…