L-L-L-Little Reviews #40: Two Bookish First Reviews

Posted May 30, 2022 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 6 Comments

Since Bookish First is mostly sending out finished copies, I don’t usually get them in time to fit the reading and review into my blog schedule. So I am a little bit behind on these two, one came out in mid-April, the other mid-May.

Flirting With Fate by J.C. Cervantes:

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

L-L-L-Little Reviews #40: Two Bookish First ReviewsFlirting with Fate by J.C. Cervantes, Jennifer Cervantes
Published by Razorbill on April 19, 2022
Genres: YA Contemporary Romance, YA Magical Realism
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: four-stars
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Ava Granados will never forgive herself for being late to her beloved nana's deathbed. But due to a flash flood that left Ava in a fender bender with a mysterious boy, she missed her grandmother's mystical blessing--one that has been passed between the women of her family upon death for generations.
Then Nana's ghost appears with a challenge from beyond the grave. As it turns out, Nana did give Ava a blessing, but it missed its target, landing with the boy from the night of the storm instead. Was it fate? Ava refuses to believe so. With the help of her sisters and Nana's rather bumbling spiritual guide, she's determined to reclaim her share of the family magic and set Nana free.
For guarded Ava, befriending some random boy is the last thing she wants to do. She's gotten along just fine protecting her heart--keeping people at a distance is a great way to ensure no one ever hurts you. But as Ava embarks on her mission to retrieve the lost blessing, she starts to wonder if getting close to thunderstorm boy is worth the risk.
In her YA debut, J.C. Cervantes weaves a tale about family, fate, and finding love where you least expect it.

My Review:

This was a really cute and fun story. It had the magical/fantasy qualities of a gift/blessing passed on in Ava’s family when her grandmother passes away. But due to accidental incidents she doesn’t make it home in time, and the gift that is given to her, skips onto someone else that she is with at the moment. The problem is that she doesn’t know the guy. And when she tries to find him, well, there’s a lot more to him that makes it not so easier to get her blessing back. But it’s obvious fate or something else is conspiring to get Ava and this boy together. Even with all the obstacles that keep popping up in their way. And there is so much more than just the romance story. There are a lot of family aspects to this story, both Ava’s family as well as the mysterious boy’s family. And all the little connections between Ava’s job and a picture she finds with her own family and other things going on in the story make for some really neat little surprises at the end. I’m donating the copy the publishers sent me to my school library for my students to read.

Practice Girl by Estelle Laure:

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

L-L-L-Little Reviews #40: Two Bookish First ReviewsPractice Girl by Estelle Laure
Published by Viking on May 17, 2022
Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Sports Romance
Pages: 368
Source: the publisher
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: five-stars
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Jo never heard of the label "practice girl"...until she was called one. And those two devastating words would irreversibly change the way she saw everyone--including herself. An emotional and empowering novel about reputation and double standards, perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Sarah Dessen.
Jo Beckett is looking for love. She's fallen for a few boys, but for some reason, they've never fallen for her. One night, at a party she didn't even want to go to, she finds out the truth. Those boys, who are on the wrestling team she manages, consider her just a “practice girl”—the popular term for girl who’s good enough to hook up with but not to date.
With this crushing revelation, Jo feels so many things--heartsick, ashamed, betrayed, and angry. But she refuses to let that label define her. In piecing her life back together, Jo is forced to unpack more uncomfortable truths about all her relationships--from her best friend to the boy she likes--that help her understand her real worth.
From the author of the acclaimed This Raging Light, Practice Girl is a heart-wrenching, relatable, and ultimately triumphant story about a girl who rejects her label and decides for herself who she is to the world.

My Review:

This book was hard for me to read. Without going into any details, I have a really personal connection or should I say my own similar experiences to what Jo goes through. I was in tears when I read the portion they shared on Bookish First where I entered to win a copy. And of course that was the beginning of the book, and yes, I had many of those moments in the book. But it was more than just that. Jo took the things she learned about how the boys considered her a “practice girl” and used that to fuel what she did. But she also learned that she maybe needed to reassess the way she treated or thought about other people. Like the girls around her. An old best friend that she thought she’d lost for something that really was totally overblown on her part, but also a total misunderstanding for both her and the other girl. But it wasn’t only Jo who had to learn something. It was her best friend, who she may have made a practice friend from the start. And then it was even the girls she was having to learn to see in a different light. I loved this book from start to finish. I loved Dax, and I hated that he had anything to hide, even if it wasn’t a bad thing. I don’t know how much this book is being or will be talked about, but I loved it. Keeping the finished copy the publishers sent me for myself instead of donating to my school library. Which means I’ll be spending budget money to purchase a copy for the library.

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6 responses to “L-L-L-Little Reviews #40: Two Bookish First Reviews

  1. Wow, what a powerful review for a powerful book. I’m so glad you found something you could connect with in Practice Girl. These double standards can be devastating.

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  2. Danielle Hammelef

    I read the first looks of both of these books and am still up in the air about the first one here, though I am pleased you found it enjoyable. I claimed Practice Girl and had mixed feelings about the writing. I think the author did an excellent job though about making me feel like I was in Jo’s “shoes” as she tried to accept the truth about how others perceived her and how she allowed them to use her because she was either oblivious to it, wanted only to see the best in others, or something deeper. Definitely not a light read. Another issue people experience that I wish didn’t exist.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Yeah, the first one wasn’t perfect. Kind of hard to get into for me, which is why I didn’t finish it closer to the pub date. I think I connected so much to the second book that I didn’t notice writing issues. Like everyone says Twilight is horribly written, but I was so sucked in and loved it that I never felt that way.

    • Lisa Mandina

      I really liked Practice Girl. Flirting With Fate was cute, but did move a little slow for me, but overall I liked it.

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