Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“I have to convince audiences everywhere that a zombie loves a zombie hunter. So far, it’s not happening. So far, the only thing future viewers care about is that I’m not someone else.”

Okay, the only other thing I’ve ever read by Kasie West was the short story of hers in Snow in Love, but I think it is safe to say that I am officially just going to preorder everything she writes from now on, because this story was also such a damn delight. And she is now 2/2 for writing the sweetest and softest boys in YA literature. I honestly just had a smile on my face while reading the majority of this book. If I’m ever in need of a feelgood book, I’m just going to turn to Kasie West’s backlist from now on.

So, basically, Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss stars a girl named Lacey who just landed a breakout role in an indie zombie film which she will co-star in with the extremely famous, Grant James! Lacey has only ever done minor acting roles in the past, but she is willing to give up her senior year of high school to move to Hollywood and to give this role all she has. Meanwhile, her father has agreed to move with her, to help give her structure. Yet, he also gives her a tutor named Donovan, who is supposed to keep her on track with the schoolwork that she is already neglecting.

But while filming, it becomes apparent that maybe Grant and Lacey don’t have the best onscreen chemistry with one another. Yet, Lacey is finding it easier and easier to find chemistry with the tutor who is supposed to be teaching her chemistry. *winky face* Donovan is the sweetest boy and I just loved him completely from page one. No spoilers, but the jumping on the trampoline scene? Added five years to my life.

But on top of Lacey trying to put everything she has into this zombie role, it becomes more and more apparent that someone is trying to sabotage her chances of making it big. I won’t lie, this does have a bit of a Scooby-Doo feeling mystery around the movie set, because the someone that is trying to sabotage Lacey before her career even gets started is kind of doing innocent things. Yet, I still loved that it kept me guessing for far longer than it probably should have. Towards the end it became kind of obvious who it was, but right up until that ending point, I was honestly thinking that the sabotage was someone else.

I also didn’t love the inclusion of bits of the movie script in-between chapters. I feel like we got a good enough feel of the plot of the film without those, and it pulled me out of the story (ironical enough) each time I read them. I think this book would have been stronger without them entirely, honestly. Also, there was a scene with them finding a drug dealer’s lair that I thought would come back into play and just never did and it was a little wild.

But my only real complaint was that I kind of hated both of Lacey’s parents. I totally get that she’s only seventeen, but they both just felt like crappy parental figures throughout the book. From her mom, boxing up her stuff and giving her room to an animal that Lacey wouldn’t like, even though she thought she would be coming back to finish her senior year! To her dad who decided he wanted to play a major role in her life seventeen years too late, and then force her to over exhaust and over work herself to try to have a semblance of a “normal” teenage life, after agreeing to letting her act in the movie. I don’t know, they just both rubbed me the wrong way, and not even the ending of this book justified their actions to me. But at least she got a cute and sweet tutor out of the deal.

Overall, I just loved this. It was the perfect sweet and heartwarming contemporary that I needed. I actually think this would be a perfect read for the spooky season. I mean, I wouldn’t say it is “spooky” per se, but it surrounds the making of a horror film all about zombies! And some of the moments in this book will keep you on the edge of your seat, involving the sabotage on the set. But I just think Kasie West is a master of YA Romance, and I think she is so deservingly beloved among the community. I can’t wait to see what she does next, and she 100% made a new fan from me.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for a couple comments that are weird about food and dieting, talk of online harassment and bullying, and use of the word cr*zy.

Buddy Read with Amy & Heather! ❤

 

Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman, & Kasie West

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Snow in Love is a heartwarming holiday anthology that just came out at the end of 2018! This is a collection of four short stories, but I truly only recommend two of them. Seriously, this is a wild break down of two five star reads, and two one star reads. But I truly loved two and I hated two. Yet, I also truly believe the Kasie West and Nic Stone’s stories are so good that it would be worth it to pick up this collection, especially if you are in need of a little holiday cheer!

Snow and Mistletoe by Kasie West – ★★★★★

“I got you something…”

Holy shit, this was actual perfection for me. Again, I’ve never read anything by Kasie West before, but this was the most heartwarming holiday story I’ve read in a long time. Yes, it was a bit predictable, but I actually think that aspect sweetened the story and made it even more precious. And this story just had too many things that I personally love in literature; besides being adorable, it is a traveling story, with a snowed-in element, featuring a strong sibling relationship, with a scene in Vegas, and a hotel scene, that is all Christmas themed! Ah, friends, this story just makes me smile so big thinking about it! But the basic premise of this story is that a seventeen-year-old girl named Amalie is stuck in the Denver airport, while surprising her family for Christmas because she realized that studying abroad isn’t for her. But then she sees a familiar face from her old high school, who offers her a ride back home, even though it will take a few days. (Sawyer is high school boyfriend goals, by the way!) I loved this with my entire heart and soul and now I want to read everything by Kasie West!

Working in A Winter Wonderland by Aimee Friedman – ★

“It was a freaking Hanukkah miracle.”

Oh my gosh, this was such a letdown, especially after that last short story. The only really good thing I can say about this is that the main character is Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah. Besides that, yikes. Basically, the main character, Maxine, wants to buy an expensive dress for her best friend’s party, and a guy who she has had a secret crush on since high school, tells her that his father’s department store has an opening. Little does she know, that opening is to be a Christmas Elf. But Maxine is just rude, and negative, and honestly insufferable. Which would be fine, but this is supposed to be a happy holiday feel good book and it just made it feel like a chore to get through. I really disliked this one.

The Magi’s Gifts by Melissa De La Cruz – ★

“But she was prettier than the whole lot of them put together…”

Actually, this short story was the worst! How did this happen? What editor decided to put Kasie West’s story first? Maybe I’m just too damn old to be reading about superficial high schoolers? Maybe the Lord is truly testing me? This didn’t give me any holiday feelings at all. Plus, like… combs and hair are a lot different than motorcycles and family heirlooms. Reading about catty girls and high schoolers who think their significant other is their soulmate, while not respecting their wishes to not show PDA, is just not my idea of a good time. I hated every second of this story.

Grounded by Nic Stone – ★★★★★

“Maybe this is exactly what Leigh needed: to get grounded. Literally and otherwise.”

I just want to stay in this happy bubble after reading this story forever. Holy perfection. Nic Stone blows me away with everything she writes, and this short story was no different. It is ownvoices, about two Black girls stuck in ATL airport. We follow Leigh, who is also Jewish, and who has just came out of a break up because she has finally realized that she is a lesbian, and she has known that she was attracted to girls since she was fourteen, when she was on a cruise with another girl who was a family friend. Well, that girl is also snowed-in at the airport, and they are texting and decided to play a game that is like a crossover between I Spy and Hide-and-Seek. This story is told mostly by text messages between Leigh and Harper, but also between Leigh and her best friend, Niecey, who is encouraging her on. But this sweet start to a sapphic romance? I was swooning so hard, so damn hard. And Nic Stone also seamlessly weaves in important themes and topics like systemic racism, and internalized racism. Friends, this was amazing, and I completely recommend it with my whole heart.

I know that these ratings are so polarizing and wild, but they are honest, like always. Maybe there is a way just to purchase the first and last stories of this collection? Because that would be the true holiday blessing! But I gave Snow in Love three stars overall, because out of a possible 20 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 4 stories) this collection accumulated 12 stars (60%)!

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❤⛄ I read this for #TistheSeasonAThon!