February First Impressions

February is the month of chocolates, dates, and staying in to finish that book. Is romance your guilty pleasure genre? Because I don’t think it’s mine.

Break The Fall – Jennifer Iacopelli

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics. 

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world. 

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive. 

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world? 

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough? 

Break the Fall, Jennifer Iacopelli 
February 18, 2020

The pain and drama in the first three bits really had me excited to read the rest of the back cover. A story about gymnastics is definitely a sport I know nothing about. Other than the fact that the Olympians are in way better shape than I’ll ever be in my entire life. And they have better focus while flipping upside down than I do sitting down to write. Plus, add on whatever the “horrifying news that rips the team apart” that is that one of Audrey Lee’s teammates has been hurt by the one person they trusted most” has my mind spinning with excitement. 

But then comes the paragraph about Leo, the coach’s son. I hope reading this book, Leo is actually a Z story. Yes, not A-story, not B-Story, not even C-Story. I want that romantic relationship or crush as far away from the plot as possible. Is that an anti-Valentine’s Day thing to say? Yes, most definitely. But alas, Leo is going to have to be a mix of Ryan Reynolds with Trevor Noah and a dash of Idris Elba for me to give him the time of day. 

The only thing that makes me hesitant about this story is the romantic aspect, otherwise though, I would probably still pick up. Depends the importance of Leo though that would keep Audrey Lee’s story by Jennifer Iazopelli in my shopping cart though.

The Upside of Falling – Alex Light

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone. 

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse. 

 Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives? 

The Upside of Falling, Alex Light
February 18, 2020

The cover has me hesitant. If I’m being honest. It looks cute, sure, but it makes me wonder what separates it from other Young Adult romance novels out there. I hope there’s more to this story than a modern novelization of She’s All That. The concern being that I want a story that pushes the Young Adult romance genre forward, not retreats back into tropes. 

Figuring out what makes this story would be the catch for me. What is there about it that makes me want to recommend this to someone? Or what is there that makes me want to read this again? There’s quitter a bit of intrigue about what is going on in Becca’s life that was so bad to make her give up on true love at the age of seventeen. Some trauma that is years old could certainly make this sweet looking book have some savory flavor to it. Also, Brett Wells is hopefully made more dynamic than a jock with eyes on the future. 

I would love to know what about their lives is fake versus real and so I would definitely pick this up to review, but I’m not quite sure if this book would get a buy from me yet. I guess that means the backside does its job, but indifference isn’t exactly what back covers are aiming for.

Miss You Love You Hate You Bye – Abby Sher

Zoe and Hank (short for Hannah) have been inseparable since they met in elementary school. The leader of the pack, Zoe is effortlessly popular while Hank hides comfortably in her shadow. But when Zoe’s parents unexpectedly divorce, Zoe’s perfect facade starts cracking little by little. Sinking under the weight of her broken family, Zoe develops an eating disorder. Now she must rely on Hank for help. 

Hank struggles to help Zoe; after all, she is used to agreeing, not leading. How can she help her best friend get better before it’s too late? 

Written partially in letters from Zoe and mostly in narrative from Hank’s perspective, Miss You Love You Hate You Bye is a poignant and eye-opening novel about friendship, mental health, and learning to put yourself first. 

Miss You Love You Hate You Bye, Abby Sher
February, 18, 2020

A story of friendship will always catch me, especially one about a friendship where actual jeopardy is at stakes. From this back cover I am already in love with the friendship of Zoe and Hank and want them to be best friends forever. That being said, how can you not want to root for Hank and Zoe here? It is very interesting to me that the novel is mostly from Hank’s perspective. I think a story about seeing a friend go through these mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging situations is an interesting choice by the author, Abby Sher. 

Also, the cover? Gosh is it cool. Whoever designed it should get ten free coffees and a raise or something because it forces your eyes to see it and your hands to grab it. I think this book would be heartbreaking to read and yet important for young readers as well as older readers to experience. 

This one will certainly have my eyes on the prowl for it come publication day to learn more about Zoe and Hank (short for Hannah)

Yes No Maybe So – Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

Yes No Maybe So, Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
February 4, 2020

The “Yes” of this back cover has to be the political intrigue. A story about political canvassing, especially in today’s political climate, is so incredibly important. I am fascinated to know the way that both Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed develop this story for Jamie and Maya. 

The “Maybe So” about this back cover is the cross-cultural romance going on. Sure, I can’t poo all over every love story coming out in Valentine’s Day otherwise a cherub with a bow and arrow will take me out on my walk to the bookstore. This romance has me going “maybe so” because of the stage it’s on. It’s in a book tackling political issues during an already controversial election year. If that stage for two lovers doesn’t interest you, then you really do need a visit from Cupid. 

The “No” of this back cover is simply no I will not pass up on getting this book. A comedy about politics and young love sounds fantastic. Sure, that last sentence had like three negatives, but still…I had to make the joke work somehow. This is a definite buy for me.

The Gravity of Us – Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus. 

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him. 

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch. 

The Gravity of Us, Phil Stamper
February 4, 2020

I’m pretty sure we’ve discussed this book on the podcast a few times. If not, maybe I just talk to people on the phone about it regularly. Very few books get me as excited as this book does. As far as I’m concerned it has everything! 


Young gay love! 

Being contemporary! 

Everything I’ve ever wanted in a book. To be clear, the young lovers are not in space, they are on Earth. But who cares when there’s sparks flying between them. (Also, see I don’t hate love.) Now all that’s left is to see if Phil Stamper’s debut novel is a total blast or if we’re going to be calling Houston with a problem. Yes, I will see myself out now so I can go to the bookstore and pick this up.

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Published by D.S. Davis

Hello, my name is D.S. Davis. I am a YA and Middle Grade writer currently seeking an agent. I am the MFA in Creative Writing program coordinator at Sierra Nevada University, where I graduated in January 2020 having studied specifically writing for children and young adults. I'm a Jersey boy who has moved to Truckee, California in pursuit of mountain living and to immerse myself in the writing program that changed my life. I can be found on Twitter and Instagram @thedsdavis

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