Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost, Writing

Review: Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Hey all, Dani here.

Hello and Happy Tuesday! Today’s post is not a long overdue review, so that’s exciting. No, I read this book last month…? I’m pretty sure I read it in July. I’m typing this up at work right now and I don’t really want to close out of the app to open my Goodreads and check. So we’ll just go with me guessing when I read it and moving on from there. Haha.

I can definitely say that picking up contemporary and romance books this year has really helped me with getting back into a rhythm when it comes to reading. I like them for their easy voice and story, and while they do have certain obstacles and complications, they aren’t as complex as some fantasy stories and worlds, so I really enjoy them. Now that I read over that last sentence it feels like I’m saying that contemporary or romance stories aren’t complex, which isn’t necessarily true; they just don’t have that perception of being that way. And for a book to classify as romance there has to be a happily ever after, or at least a happily for now ending. Fantasy and Sci-Fi and other Speculative Fiction just don’t have that guarantee of happiness at the end. Basically what I’m saying is that I enjoy picking up romances because I know that the obstacles will be overcome and everything will work out in the end, which makes the books easier to get through overall.

Anyway, let’s go ahead and jump into today’s review.

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances.

Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader.

When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming.

But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

My Thoughts:

Rating: 4 stars

I was so excited to read this one because I generally enjoy books with a focus on creative writing, but we only got to see a couple snippets of Tessa’s writing towards the beginning, and they’re typical swoony romances that are basically a way for Tessa to write herself in as the protagonist of one story and her friend Caroline is basically the protagonist of the other…and then that’s it. The rest of the book, Tessa is suffering writer’s block.

We don’t even really get to sit in on the writing classes at the prestigious art school Tessa gets into. I mean, we get to see a tiny bit of a workshopping class featuring a classmate. I wanted to see what sorts of lessons and inspirations and everything the teacher would hand out. Instead Tessa keeps submitting snippets from older stories she’s written and hoping that it’s passing as new work.

We pretty much skip past any writing classes she’s in with a description of Tessa sitting and staring at her computer or notebook or whatever and it just remaining a blank page.

I can’t help but be disappointed by it.

Then there’s Tessa following Caroline’s advice of romance-ready steps to follow to help inspire her…steps that lead Tessa to almost relentlessly pursuing a guy who is already in a relationship with another girl. And this is all while pretty much ignoring the guy who she clearly has way better chemistry with, who is totally available, and totally into her as well.

Tessa’s brother was a great side character, and it is clear that Tessa loves him, though she also has teenage struggles with how she’s constantly blamed by her parents for anything going on with her brother. They constantly act as if Tessa is in the wrong and that she’s not understanding of the special requirements and needs of her brother, when in actuality she spends a whole lot of time thinking about that and talking about that.

I think I read through the end of this book because of Tessa’s brother and because of neighbor-boy Sam.

It was good, but I just feel like it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

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All right, well that is all from me for today. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.

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