Here we are, another week closer to the end of 2021.  This week I’ll be wrapping up the last of my 2021 review books and then will be getting a jump on my January 2022 books.  I thought I had been cutting back on the number of review books I requested but somehow have 13 for January. Oops.  Anyway, I’m sharing my thoughts on two very different books today. The first takes a hard behind-the-scenes look at the music industry, while the second is a heartwarming story about love, family, and friendship.


Reviews:  IF THIS GETS OUT & HOW NOT TO FALL IN LOVEIf This Gets Out Goodreads

Author:  Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich is one of those books that wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be. I knew going in that there was a romance between two members of a boy-band, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s also an in-depth exploration of what goes on behind-the-scenes of the music industry, where apparently there’s not much of the good but a lot of the bad and ugly.

The story follows Ruben and Zach, two members of the ultra popular boy-band, Saturday.  Ruben and Zach, along with the other two members, Jon and Angel, all became best friends years ago in music camp and eventually decided to form a band together.  Over the years, as they have all grown closer, Ruben realizes that he has developed more than just friendly feelings toward Zach and is elated to learn that Zach feels the same way.  Both boys want to come out publicly as queer and tell the world that they are in love with one another, but to their utter dismay, the record company management just isn’t having it for fear of alienating the band’s female fans and the parents who ultimately buy the band’s albums for their children.

I adored all four of the boys in the band and my heart also broke for them all on so many levels.  It becomes clear that even though they are mega celebrities, they have no control over their own lives or even of their own personalities and sexual identities.  Management decides how each of them will look and dress, often creating personas for them that in no way match up with what each boy is really like.  When they go to Europe on tour, they are practically kept like animals in cages, not allowed to even go out and see the sights.

The strain on each boy’s mental health is intense, and it was this raw and dark look at the music industry that really made If This Gets Out such a powerful and compelling read for me.  It was horrifying to think the mental health and well-being of these boys fell a distant second to exploiting them and doing whatever was necessary to keep the money rolling in. All I kept thinking while I was reading was thank goodness these boys have each other to turn to. I loved their friendship; in so many ways, they’re truly like brothers, always there for each other no matter how hard things get.  Those friendships and the love between Zach and Ruben nicely balance out what would otherwise be a very dark story.  4 STARS


Reviews:  IF THIS GETS OUT & HOW NOT TO FALL IN LOVEHow Not to Fall in Love Goodreads

Author: Jacqueline Firkins

Publication Date: December 21, 2021

Publisher:  Clarion Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

How Not to Fall in Love by Jacqueline Firkins is an absolutely delightful YA contemporary romance.  It follows Theo and Harper who have been best friends since they were toddlers and who are now trying to navigate the often treacherous waters of teenage love and romance.  Harper is actually completely off love at the moment after recently getting her heart broken by a boy she thought was the one.  It also doesn’t help her thoughts on love that she works at her mom’s bridal shop and is surrounded by Bridezillas all day.  But when she sees Theo, a hopeless romantic, getting his heart broken time and time again because he just tries too hard, Harper vows that she’s going to help Theo by teaching him how to tone down his approach to dating.

I adored the friendship between Harper and Theo.  They have such an easy banter and a wonderful chemistry, and I especially loved how Harper found endearing every quality about Theo that all of his potential girlfriends found weird or too nerdy.  She truly appreciates what a special and unique person he is.  I also had such heart eyes for Theo because he’s so soft and he just loves everything about love.  He was adorable and nerdy in the cutest possible way, and it was so frustrating that girls didn’t appreciate him.  I thought Harper was great too and I especially loved how badly she wanted to help Theo even though she herself wanted nothing to do with love and was still hurting from her own failed relationship.  I also found Harper’s overall journey in this book to be quite compelling, especially because even though she’s the teacher in their arrangement, Harper also learns a lot from Theo as well, which gives her the nudge she needs to open her heart again.

I also loved all the scenes that took place at the bridal shop.  Harper and her mom made such a great team, and Pippa, the fun and quirky shop girl who is a great friend to Harper and who also appreciates Theo and all of his nerdy goodness, is a fabulous secondary character.  There were also several wonderful scenes where Harper gets to interact with non-Bridezilla clients who help make her a little less jaded when it comes to love and realize that once you’ve found the right person, nothing else matters.

If you’re in the mood for a heartfelt story of love, friendship, and family, be sure to check out How Not to Fall in Love4 STARS


22 replies
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      This is the first book I’ve ever read that focuses on a boy band so that was definitely one of the reasons I was interested in reading it.

  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    For some reason it always hurts my heart when YA romances feature a teenage character who doesn’t believe in love anymore because “the one” broke up with them – I just want to give them a hug and tell them it’ll all work out!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      The first one was definitely an interesting read. I’m pretty sure I’ve never come across a book that explores the music industry in such a way.

  2. Greg
    Greg says:

    I’ve always wondered about the music industry since you always hear so many horror stories. Fertile ground for drama I guess. This one sounds nice with the coming out elements and the stresses involved in that. And wow about the tours and whatnot- I bet in many cases it really is that way!

    And the second one sounds fabulous! After reading your review I’m pulling for Theo and Harper now! 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I’m actually surprised there haven’t been more novels about the music industry. Daisy Jones and the Six is the only other one I’ve read.

  3. Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads
    Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads says:

    I just started If This Gets Out and I can already see what you mean about it being so much more than a romance. I’m already feeling so protective of these boys. How Not To Fall In Love sounds cute 🙂

  4. verushka
    verushka says:

    These are both such gems, Suzanne, but I think the insight into the music industry and Ruben and Zach’s love story just grabbed me right away. I kep wondering about all the boy bands I grew up with and what they would have gone through.

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