Woohoo! My brain agreed that I could read (some of) the books I was actually supposed to be reading over the weekend and I have ARC reviews for you! And I believe you can find both of these in the wild today. Or you know, online so you don’t have to go anywhere. Either way. I’m really thankful to Netgalley and the various publishers for the opportunity to read these books, especially because they were books either outside my comfort zone (Feelings: A Story in Seasons) or that I didn’t fully understand what it was about (Yes & I Love You) and therefore, may have put off actually reading. But I really enjoyed my time and actually purchased a copy of Feelings for someone so let’s talk about them, shall we?
Feelings: A Story in Seasons by Manjit Thapp
On the Goodreads blurb, Feelings: A Story in Seasons is described as a gorgeous visual journey and I’ve got to say, that is incredibly accurate. It’s also deeply poignant in spots and if you’re a person who has ever suffered from anxiety or depression, I think a lot of it may be really relatable to you. Told in seasons, Feelings really walks through the cycle of the rush of energy and good vibes and then later the way the anxiety starts creeping back and you can’t quite ignore it any longer. It was interesting to see this described as seasonal paired with real seasons and I think that can be taken either literally or metaphorically.
I think this is a book I’m likely to be sharing with a lot of people in my life who will appreciate for themselves or who don’t seem to understand the way even when you seem fine, you aren’t necessarily and also that it’s hard to fight past the anxieties sometimes. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t really want to spoil this journey walking through the seasons with the gorgeous art, so I’ll just say, I highly recommend this one and I hope you’ll pick it up! (Or request it from your library since I know graphic novels are a wee bit pricey. Okay, a lot pricey.)
Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren
Y’all. This book was SO close to being perfect for me and I’m just a tiny bit frustrated that it faltered right at the finish line!! But before we get to that, let’s talk about what this book is and all the things I loved.
Hollyn has Tourette’s Syndrome and anxiety. She’s been working with her therapist for a while and is trying to be more social to fight the inertia that could easily lead to her becoming a shut in. So, Hollyn has an office at a co-working space where she works on her writing for Miz Poppy, an anonymous entertainment reviewer that is very popular in New Orleans. Her entire routine is thrown off track when she comes in one day and the woman who usually works at the coffee shop is not there and so begins Hollyn really stretching outside of her comfort zone and taking risks.
This book really does belong to Hollyn for all that it’s a dual narrative and for all that it’s Jasper’s storyline that really contributes to the ultimate conflict. Jasper is a sweetheart with ADHD and he’s a bit of a mess. He’s back in New Orleans, living with his sister, and has rejoined the improv group he sort of abandoned when he went out to LA with the woman who broke his heart. He’s also the barista at the co-working space Hollyn works out of. The two of them sort of get off on the wrong foot, but as things are wont to do in a romance novel, they work things out.
So let’s talk about what I love. The two main characters are both really engaging and interesting. Ultimately, I do think Hollyn is more fleshed out that Jasper and the book suffers a little because of it since the second big conflict centers around Jasper. But Jasper’s messiness and Hollyn’s bravery are both very appealing and I love how the two of them really do bring out the best in one another. I think this book was really great at demonstrating that in very clear ways.
The side characters are all great, but I’m most obsessed with Andi, a bubbly and enthusiastic fellow co-worker, who also happens to have gone so far down the rabbit hole on her true crime podcast that now she’s sort of freaked herself out about dating. She’s incredibly relatable and I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series because it’s her book! She’s just such a great and fun character and I just want to be her friend.
The improv scenes and also the intimate scenes are all amazing and really well done, in my opinion. Plus!!! Intimate scenes really take off once Hollyn is like, “Hello, please use me because I need to practice romantic relationships so I won’t be alone forever.” And (a) you already know what’s going to happen and trust me, that ride to get there is as delightful as the trope implies and (b) yes, Hollyn, you tell him exactly what’s what!!! I was so proud of her in that moment because feeling things is hard and expressing feelings is EVEN worse somehow. But she did it and her boldness is rewarded and so we are rewarded. Loved it. Oh, and then later there’s fake dating and some of my favorite parts of the trope play out so that was delightful also!
But. And this is a pretty big but. The way this book builds felt really well paced. Like I wasn’t bored, I was very engaged, but it is a relatively slow build. And then you get to the two specific tropes I mentioned above and I really hit a groove only to be catapulted into a wall as our first conflict comes up. And I mean, I liked that conflict. It made sense with the way the book was going and I was like, “Alright, I can get behind this.” But then we move past that one and it was easy! Smooth sailing. I was like, “well, Idk what’s going to happen now because I think we’re golden,” but then BAM. Conflict again. And this conflict!!!! This conflict I kind of hated. First of all, I’m not that forgiving of a person and I had a real hard time with the way this entire second conflict was handled and I can’t say much obviously because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but… It did sort of keep the end from really working for me.
So, overall, I loved it and I hated the ending. At this point, I should be pretty used to this because this keeps happening to me. But… I am not. I just want romance editors to be like, “Jenica, this is how this book ends. Are you going to be okay with that?” so that I can STOP putting myself through the torture of loving the first 70%-80% of a book and then having it let me down! Okay, I’m going to stop being dramatic now and tell you that honestly I do really recommend this. Especially because there’s something really incredible at seeing Hollyn overcome her anxiety. The book sort of walks that line about a miracle cure, but honestly, I think Loren did a great job at putting Hollyn in a place where giving her a few shoves really helped her. And it’s a great reminder that hobbies can be super helpful and maybe I should have some.
So there you have it! Have you read either of these? What did you think? Do you want to read them? Let me know!