4 star, YA

Review: See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.

The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from Physics 101, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.

When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to find a way out. Soon they’re exploring the mysterious underbelly of the university and going on wild, romantic adventures. As they start falling for each other, they face the universe’s biggest unanswered question yet: what happens to their relationship if they finally make it to tomorrow?

CW: bullying

Groundhog Day in print format, hmm? I was intrigued by the synopsis from the start and I can pleasantly say See You Yesterday gave a sweet story that brought growth to both protagonists as they faced the same day over and over…and over again.

Barrett is by far from the perfect protagonist. We know from the start that things go super awry on her first day of classes after orientation. She gets into it with another student in a class she’s not sure she wanted to take and is trapped with the girl who dropped her as a friend ages ago as a roommate. But no one wants perfection, especially in their protagonist, and I appreciated the candor Barrett brings as the POV we see everything through. She suffered through a number of different ordeals in high school at the mercy and words of her peers, and college life was her hope for recreating herself with a brand new slate.

Repeating the same horrid day seems bad enough, but learning nothing she did differently made any difference (so you’re telling me trying to a better person the second time around doesn’t work as a magic spell to finally make it Thursday, September 22?). But what kept the repeated days from getting super tedious and repetitive was the antics Barrett encounters with Miles, a guy she instantly hit a sour note with in physics class who apparently is also stuck. I liked their interactions and banters, from the heated I-can-barely-stand-you-why-are-you-the-only-person-in-the-world-who-is-stuck-in-this-time-loop-with-me arguments to the softening, vulnerable conversations, because they felt genuine and real for two barely-started freshmen trying to find themselves and possible reinvent everything they were running away from. It would kind of suck if you didn’t like them because, sorry, we’re stuck with them. Everyone else is kind of like an amnesiac who will forget everything that happened the next time the day resets.

While I initially pegged this as a fun rom-com kind of book, it definitely has its space for serious conversations about the people they were and the ones they were hoping to become. I did really enjoy that and thought it made the story more interesting to read than perhaps only the silly things one could do without any consequences when the day just resets sometime during the night. The chemistry between Barrett and Miles was also there although I wouldn’t say it was always heavy on the romantic part for me like some other romance novels can make me feel. I suppose it wasn’t the focus because they were also getting to know one another as individuals, seeing each other in ways that maybe no one else had ever been privy to before underneath the walls and armor they showed the world. The romance is still there, don’t get me wrong, but it felt more like a contemporary story at times than romance as a genre.

If you’re looking for a fun story about young people stuck in a time loop – and oh boy, does the physics of it kind of come into play A LOT more than I anticipated? – then this is your book. If you’re looking for some more serious-toned story where the protagonist(s) really self reflects and dives deep into who they want to become through the experiences that have shaped them, this is also for you. I think there are different layers for a wider audience to enjoy, but the caveat is it’s not one specific thing that caters to one group more if that’s solely what you want it to be. I think it’s part of its beauty and I’m glad I picked up one of Rachel’s YA novels.

Overall Recommendation:

See You Yesterday definitely brought the fun as Barrett and Miles race to figure out how to escape the time loop they’re stuck repeating over and over again with only one another as company. Read part as a rom-com with the forced proximity trope really tugging these two characters together and part as a contemporary novel focusing on heavier themes such as bullying, this book wasn’t what I expected but had plenty of heart to love.

5 star, adult

Review: Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Series: The STEMinist novellas #2

Nothing like a little rivalry between scientists to take love to the next level.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….

For the fact that this is a novella, Stuck With You packs on the chemistry and heat right from the start, once again showing that it isn’t about the length of a novel but the talent of the author to draw us into a story and the lives of its characters.

As always, I’m super invested in these women in STEM stories. Definitely would love to see more romance books featuring such smart and independent protagonists.

Sadie was a firecracker with her oddly specific superstitious rituals for good luck before interviews and her love for engineering in a workforce still dominated by men. I adored her voice, and the narrator on the audiobook did a superb job creating that excitement I vividly picture at Sadie’s passion for what she does. Which brings us to her love-hate relationship with Erik. She brings the passion so that also transfers to things (or PEOPLE) she passionately dislikes.

I liked the format of the story going back and forth between present day wherein she’s trapped in the elevator with the last person she wants to see, and the past explaining how she and Erik met. It keeps us guessing what went down between them when it seemed they really clicked initially. This made the pace go really well and never drag the story too long – if novellas can feel long.

Erik epitomized the kind of male love interests that people love. Stoic, strong, a bit brooding (or maybe because he didn’t speak all that much), and clearly misunderstood. Something clearly wasn’t adding up the more we learned of the past between Erik and Sadie.

And while it’s great to love characters individually, I will have to say that Erik and Sadie together just had sparks flying. Whew, how was that elevator not starting to move again when it could be fueled by their tension and electricity?? Their dynamic rivaled Ali Hazelwood’s debut duo from The Love Hypothesis. Perhaps it’s the grumpy-sunshine character combo but anyhow, this made the story. The angst is real, the miscommunication is probably in there somewhere and not too difficult to figure out near the end, and you just know how they make up for such communication breakdown is gonna be awesome.

And by awesome I mean chemically reactive!

If you haven’t hopped onto the Ali Hazelwood train, I would recommend you do. You can start anywhere with this novella series without ruining the other stories, but I definitely liked Sadie’s story the most so far.

Overall Recommendation:

Stuck With You is the classic forced proximity story that draws together two people with an extreme love-hate relationship. What do you get when you put 2 engineers together in an unmoving elevator late on a Friday evening? A combustive story detailing the mishaps of their initial meeting/attempts at romance and perhaps some steamy ways of making up for what happened. Sadie and Erik’s story may contain those common romance tropes but they’re what make the story so attractive. What makes the rest of it so good is the compelling storytelling all credited to Ali’s amazing writing. Definitely worth the pick up for such a short book.

4 star, adult

Review: Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

Series: The STEMinist Novellas #1

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new steamy, STEMinist novella….

A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

To listen to Sadie and Hannah’s stories, look for the novellas Stuck with You and Below Zero, coming soon, available first on audio!

Ali Hazelwood does it again with her first novella following 3 STEM ladies who are the best of friends. I had the distinct pleasure of listening to the audiobook ‘cause I couldn’t wait for the print to come out (it’s totally the only reason I’m still on Audible).

Immediately we meet Mara at the very beginning and we know feelings are there between her and Liam, or at least on her side. I’m such a sucker for the unrequited feels angst and Mara was steeping in it!

But what made the pacing excellent especially for this short format story was this little taste of the present time at the beginning and then the rewind to the first moments Mara and Liam meet. For all you enemies to lovers fans, it’s definitely chaotic at the beginning.

They’re complete opposites in every way. He loves gaming and she’s a HUGE fan of The Bachelor franchise. She tries to save the environment and he’s working for the enemy company that corrupts it. What could go wrong living together? Doesn’t that just sound like an amazing setup for a love story?

Their relationship is less hate and does quickly turn into potentially something more. I do blame the quick turn of it due to the novel length but I do love some slow burn romance. I think it’s the only reason this isn’t a 5-star rating.

If you’re a fan of Ali’s writing already, this continues to show she’s a great writer with ingenious ways of incorporating women in STEM careers at the forefront. I absolutely adore that about her writing! But if you’re new to Ali’s work, this is a great introduction to a fiery romance and amazing protagonists who aren’t afraid to stand their ground in fields dominated by men. The audiobook was narrated so well and is worth listening to if you can’t wait for the print format to publish!

Overall Recommendation:

Under One Roof shows me just how excellent an author Ali Hazelwood is. Mara is a wonderful protagonist who is both relatable as a woman striving to make her voice heard and falling for the guy who has nothing in common with her, but also personally relatable to me because of her profession in STEM. The romance was fast paced but understandably moves quickly because it’s a novella. If you love forced close proximity, enemies to lovers with a dash of unrequited love angst, this is the story for you!