3 books, 2 authors, 1 series, 0 complaints

I recently read – ok listened to – the 2019 Young Adult book On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. You may know of her 2017 YA bestseller The Hate U Give (or the movie version which hit screens in 2018). As outstanding as that book was, I think I liked this one better.

Here’s a first: I recommend listening to this book over reading a physical copy. The narrator embodied the characters, especially 16-year-old Bri. She nailed the nuances of a young, defiant, confused, sweet, proud girl. Bri’s an aspiring rapper and the rap scenes made it clear to me that I most definitely wouldn’t have done them justice if I’d read them to myself.

Reading a YA book as an adult is interesting, recognizing the things that change and things that stay the same. The familiar and the completely foreign. You remember your own 16-year-old self and then feel oh so old.

Bri has it tough. She lives with her older brother and mother; her dad was a talented rapper but he was murdered. She’s close to her brother and their mom is dedicated to them, but they’re poor and living on the edge of eviction. She has an extended family who is there for her, though: Aunt Pooh, Bri’s grandparents, and her close friends Sonny and Malik.

Themes in On the Come Up include poverty, gangs, drugs, ambition, stereotypes and racism. The story follows a familiar arc but there’s nothing tired about it. I loved the story and Bri’s voice. Angie Thomas is a funny and relatable author and I need to see what she’s been up to the last few years.

I wonder, wonder who, who-oo-ooh, who

Who wrote the book of love?

The Monotones

Jasmine Guillory is a clever and intuitive writer whose books celebrate confidence, friendship, love, and loyalty. Her characters – male and female – can be smart, flirty, vulnerable, ambitious, and stubborn. They’re so much fun to get to know.

I listened to While We Were Dating first and just let myself be swept along by the banter, the story, the romance and yes, the sexy sex.

The plot is fun: take one successful actress on the brink of superstardom but with a secret: she’s hiding a sometimes-crippling issue with anxiety. Add in a smart, handsome and talented ad exec heading up her new cell phone commercial. Anna has a crisis, Ben’s super helpful and understanding, and before you know it they’re fooling around.

Anna has her eye on a part and needs to work on increasing her fan base. Then her agent has a brilliant idea – why not pretend to date Ben for a while for the publicity? Incredibly he’s game. “This will be fun” he thinks, and it is at first…

Jasmine Guillory is a hopeful romantic. I went from one book to the next and it wasn’t until I started the third that I realized I had the order wrong. While We Were Dating is the third book in the series. No big deal though, they each work on their own.

Guillory’s men are always handsome, fit, kind and slightly enlightened. Her women are fierce and fun. All her characters are real; they behave badly at times, they learn lessons, they get mad and they forgive.

The Proposal features Nik, a journalist who interviewed Anna in While We Were Dating. The book begins at Dodgers Stadium where Nik is the unwitting recipient of a public proposal from her shallow actor boyfriend. It comes out of left field (pun intended) and doesn’t end well for the boyfriend. But as humiliating as it was, it also set up the meet-cute between Nik and Carlos. They fall into an easy friendship but, surprise, things happen. Will they realize what’s in front of them? Not to worry, remember Jasmine Guillory is in control.

Here are the three books in the series, in order. In a world of worries these romances are a temporary antidote. Put one on your summer reading list.

  1. The Wedding Date
  2. The Proposal
  3. While We Were Dating

p.s. Ahem, if you’re not into the sexy parts don’t say I didn’t warn you. I know we’re all adults here, but still.

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