Aaaaand I’m back from vacation! I had an amazing time but I missed blogging, HOWEVER I finally got to catch up on my ARCs and read THREE of them. I’m only including two of those books in this mini review because I think the third one is more interesting and can have it’s own review, plus these two are pretty similar. So I read All the Wrong Chords by Christine Hurley Deriso and Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin. Both of these books were fun, lighthearted and cheesy. Perfect if you are in the mood for some cheese, but you’ll probably roll your eyes too much if you aren’t in the mood for it. Luckily, I was, so I had fun while reading these books. Now, onto the reviews!
*I received an early copy of both books from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews*
All the Wrong Chords
So let’s jump right into the plot. Scarlett moves in with her grandfather for the summer, and while thee, accidentally almost hits a cute boy, Zach, while driving. This cute boy JUST HAPPENS to be part of a band, and so naturally he invites Scarlett to a concert. After, you know, almost being murdered by her. While at the concert Scarlett falls in love at first sight with Declan, the lead singer, while Zach is left inviting her to sit in on their practice, because Scarlett JUST HAPPENS to also play guitar. And you know what, she used to be in a band too !! Who would’ve guessed???? She becomes closer friends with Zach, but starts to realize Declan is an ass, because, well, he is. And then while she’s realizing that, she falls in love with Zach and they have a nice summer romance.
Okay, the book was a lot deeper than my synopsis was, but it’s just so fun to write snarky book reviews I couldn’t help myself!! But I actually did enjoy this book and think it was fun, although I did have problems with it. And it’s pretty easy to make fun of it you want to.
So let’s begin with pros: I really liked Scarlett’s relationship with her family. Each relationship, whether with her grandfather, her sister Sara, or her brother Liam (who is now dead btw) was special and different and really cute and supportive. She and her grandfather have a lot of touching moments about loss and love, and she and Sara fight a ton but support each other no matter what and had some bonding moments. But of course, because Liam had just passed away and Scarlett was dealing with that loss, his and Scarlett’s relationship was my favorite. They were always closest in real life, but after his death, Scarlett starts to learn that maybe she didn’t know all she thought she did about him.
A second pro: I like the relationship between the band
minus Declan. Even though they’re all older than her, they bonded and had fun a lot and it was just a very sweet sort of friendship, where they would joke and tease but have each other’s back. Although there were definitely some cringy moments like when everyone teamed up against Declan overall I liked this relationship as well.
Third pro: Scarlett and her best friend Varun. Even though they were growing apart because Varun was keeping a secret from her (that I totally guessed by the way because it was pretty predictable) they always had each other’s backs.
My main con is with Scarlett herself. That girl is just so oblivious to anyone but herself. She doesn’t pick up on Varun’s pain, or the fact that Declan is a player, or that Zach really likes her and is going through a tough time. She’s also a pretty bad friend, always talking about herself and not really giving her friends an opportunity to tell them her problems. But I mean, you could tell she had a good heart so she wasn’t EVIL or a BAD PERSON, just stupid and naive.
Also, Zach gets literally no character development. He stays the happy, go-lucky, loving guy he was at the beginning of the book the entire time. I don’t know any of his likes or dislikes. He exists purely to be a love interest and that kinda sucks.
So what I’m trying to say is critically, this book is not the best. But it’s a fun read if you’re in the mood for it and not poorly written, so I would recommend it if you want some cheese.
This was a cute love story between childhood friends taking place in rural North Carolina. Which has some very picturesque scenes, I might add. Mitchell and Josie grow up living on this community reservation, which I think is one of the best parts of the book. It’s like living at camp your whole life! Not that I’d actually want to live there, I think it’d get old, but it is a super fun place for a setting. And the whole community is just hilarious and wacky and eccentric. It’s a mix of old hippies and young families, and they all become one big family, looking after and supporting each other.
The romance in this book was not unexpected. It followed a pretty cliche path: Josie and Mitchell are *just friends*, but then they start to see each other as more, and have to grapple with those extra feelings. But the romance was still cute and I was rooting for them all along. It was also golden boy meets artsy outdoorsy hippie, but their rapport was so funny and playful, and they also got each other on a deeper level. Plus, living in the same place eliminates some problems (while adding more, I guess). The one thing I will say about their relationship is it was a ton of cheese. Like, a fondue of cheese. They said and thought things that no teenager nowadays would ever think or say, but I was in the mood for an cheesy romance so I let it go. Also, the sweetest thing about their romance is that THEY TRADE THEIR FAVORITE BOOKS BACK AND FORTH. They actually started doing that before they were in love but like is that not a dream for book lovers like us?????? Because, hello, books??????
Like any good romance book, there are side plots that threaten to break the couple up, and this book’s focused on the families. Both Josie and Mitchell had to deal with family problems, and while I didn’t agree with how either of them handled their problems, by the end they realized their wrongdoings and tried to mature and fix them. The moms in this book annoyed me to no end because they were a mix of super understanding and supportive to careless with them, and I just wanted to shake some sense in them and say “Be there for your kids 100% of the time! Don’t care about them and be super understanding just to ignore when they come in at 2 am smelling like alcohol!”. But there were also redemption arcs within the families, which I always love.
I would say the character development in this book is more…developed because of the dual POVs. You get to know both Josie and Mitchell’s side of the story and get inside both their heads, making for more rounded characters. It eliminates the whole “only being a love interest” character.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the friendships here. Mitchell and his best friend have such a nice bromance. They talk out their feelings, stay with each other when needed, and have a no questions asked type of deal. It was refreshing for once to see a friendship between boys not full of crude talking and horseplay and competitions to see who is the most macho. Also, Leah and Josie had a good friendship as well. So the friendship part of the book was spot on.
I would say this book fulfills the cheese quota you need in your life but doesn’t add a ton more. It was enjoyable, and I couldn’t put it down, but it didn’t make me think, you know? Which is okay! But I reserve four and five stars for books that make me think and really hit me close to home. This was just fun.
Also I absolutely just love this cover.
So two pretty similar books with pretty similar reviews! The plots were different, but the overall feel of the books was the same. I have to say I liked Paintbrush more, I thought it was better written and the characters were more interesting. That being said, I would recommend both books to anyone who is in the mood for a cheesy (gosh, how many times can I say cheesy in this post????) contemporary romance.