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YA A to Z: Best Frenemies to Lovers in YA, a guest post by author Molly E. Lee

This YA A to Z post on Best Frenemies, is a little bit late for the letter B (I missed some letters, sorry), but it’s the perfect pre-Valentine’s day post.

The 2018 TLT Project: YA A to Z


Best Frenemies to Lovers in YA

I’m so excited to be here at the Teen Librarian Toolbox talking about Best Frenemies to Lovers!


Grad Night #2

My latest release, Love Between Enemies, focuses on two main character Zoey and Gordon.

Gordon comes from a humble background and is incredibly smart and dedicated to his future.

Zoey comes from a ridiculously wealthy, business-oriented family, but she’s just as smart and dedicated as Gordon.

The pair have come against each other in academic battles since grade school. The fact that they were always fighting for the same things throughout school always kept them from being close friends. They were rivals from day one, and as they got older, the academic stakes only got higher. The heightened stakes—like a desperately needed scholarship, for instance—only made the stress between them even more heavy. It was all these factors that forced a rift to remain between them, but once graduation happened and they no longer had anything left to fight over…that’s when the real emotion happened. Especially when at least one of them realizes that they could’ve probably been best friends if they weren’t so busy being friendly enemies, or best frenemies, all along.

I find this to be super relatable…the fact that when you let go of all the outside noise, the should and should not, and really take a second to witness another person and what they’re really like and what they’re really going through…you will be surprised. You’ll discover something new. Something that maybe you didn’t know you were missing.

Grad Night #1

Grad Night #1

The drama and noise and stakes often keep us from seeing the heart of someone, and that was definitely the case with Gordon and Zoey. They both were desperate for the same goal, and that blinded them to how perfect they were for each other.

Zoey’s sharpness compliments Gordon’s humble nature. His calm approach only helps slow her fast reactions down. And when they actually decide to work together? They become an unstoppable team with undeniable chemistry.

It was such a fun dynamic to explore and there were plenty of moments where I had to stop writing and simply…breathe. Thinking about how many times we’re faced with situations where we may miss truly seeing someone because we’re blinded by the noise produced from the modern day life is overwhelming. It took Zoey and Gordon years of fighting for the same goal to realize they could achieve it and so much more if they stopped and breathed and took a second to understand each other. And finding love beneath all that noise? That made all the hurt and battles before it worth it. Because without it, they would’ve never realized how extremely lucky they were to have had the other pushing them throughout the years to be better.

That is something I never get tired of seeing in frenemies to lovers stories—the realization, the epiphany, the sky clearing moment when the character realizes the person they’ve been fighting all this time happens to be the one best matched for them. It makes the love ten times more authentic because after everything they’ve been through…to find love at the end of it…is something totally magical! And that is what will keep me coming back to the frenemies to lovers trope again and again!

Thank you so much for having me! I loved chatting with you all!

About Love Between Enemies:

Zoey Handler is ready to put an end to her decade-long rivalry with Gordon Meyers. They’ve traded top spot between valedictorian and salutatorian for years, but all that’s over now. Right? But after a crazy graduation speech prank gets out of hand, suddenly their rivalry turns into all-out war. Time to make peace with a little friendly payback.

Step one? Make him believe they’re now friends.

Step two? Show him the time of his life at an epic graduation party.

Step three? Don’t fall for his tricks.

Step four? Absolutely, positively, do not kiss him again.

So what if he’s cute? (Okay, hot.) So what if he’s charming? (Heaven help her, tempting.) So what if he apologizes? (That has to be fake.) She knows the real Gordon. And no matter how much her heart begs her to stop, there’s no turning back.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two rivals who discover maybe they could be something much more…if only they’d stop fighting long enough to notice it.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/love-between-enemies.html

About Molly E. Lee:



Molly E. Lee is an author best known for her romance novels, the Grad Night series and the Love on the Edge series. Molly writes Adult and Young Adult contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English Bulldog, Molly loves watching storms from her back porch at her Midwest home, and digging for treasures in antique stores.

Author Links:

Author Website: mollyelee.com

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/MollyELee

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MollyElizabethLeeAuthor/

Author Street Team/Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/434107490133398/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mollyelizabethlee/

Author Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mollyelee/

Author Snapchat:  mollyeleeauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14975678.Molly_E_Lee

Newsletter Link: http://bit.ly/2pKqfMa

Book Review: Meet Cute by various authors

Publisher’s description

meet cute

Stories by: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Nina LaCour, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Emery Lord, Katharine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.


Amanda’s thoughts

I so love a good collection of short stories. And this one of the many cute, funny, and unexpected ways romances can start is diverse, sweet, and has something for nearly everyone. 

In Katie Cotugno’s piece, an unlikely couple shares a moment and possibly nothing more while hiding out at a party. In Nina LaCour’s story, two girls meet over Twitter during a customer service crisis. Ibi Zoboi’s contribution is about Cherish, a 6’5″ black girl desperate to get out of her super white town but wait listed at all of the HBUCs she applied to. Just when she sees a way out, she meets the one interesting boy in town. Katherine McGee’s science fiction story finds Alexa, a computer programmer working on a revolutionary virtual reality program, going on a date with a boy a computer algorithm says should be a perfect match… only he’s not who she thinks he is. Sara Shepard’s story involves a musician and a record label intern. Meredith Russo writes about Nina, a trans student who’s embroiled in a bathroom battle at school where her classmate Lexie is among the most unspoken of her opponents. Dhonielle Clayton’s piece revolves around a love blueprint—coiled tattoos on hands—that eventually fade to match your love’s. When her main character holds hands with a boy she meets (something that is forbidden), she sees many futures for herself. Emery Lord’s tale about two girls meeting in a security line at the airport proves that sometimes you just totally get someone right away. Jennifer Armentrout’s piece reveals a connection made via an overdue library book. Jocelyn Davies’ main characters, Dev and Samara, find out the statistical odds of falling in love at first with someone on the subway. Kass Morgan’s story looks at two candidates for a one-way mission to Mars and the reasons they have for leaving. Julie Murphy’s story has two girls competing on a reality show for a date with a musician, but discover they’re both interested in someone else. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s story is about a waitress and a customer, a boy, with an, unbeknownst to her, complicated relationship. Nicola Yoon’s piece about the Department of Dead Love, which performs relationship autopsies, finishes off the collection.

This is a super fun and cute collection. The stories are all very different, featuring a variety of characters, identities, and settings. This will be an easy recommendation for many readers. Plus, the cover is so dang cute, it will sell itself. Me + this book = true love. 


Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781328759870
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/02/2018


Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Publisher’s description

ra6New York Times bestselling author Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I StayThey Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”


Amanda’s thoughts

they bothI am an extremely impatient person. I really am. So the fact that I can make myself read in order of publication date, even when a book I am dying to read shows up at my house long before it’s due out, is a miracle. I am super impatient, but I am super duper organized and a fan of systems, which I guess trumps my impatience. Still, the closer I got to September books, the more desperate I grew to read this new book by Adam Silvera. I absolutely loved his previous books, History is All You Left Me and More Happy Than Not. I think I loved this new book even more than the previous two.


Imagine a world where everything is exactly the same as it is now, except there’s this company called Death-Cast that calls you up on the day you’re slated to die and alerts you to this fact. Both Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio get this call in the early hours of September 5th. No one has ever avoided their death. The title is They Both Die at the End. There is no doubt where this story is headed. And while the idea of the story is pretty clear—live your life to its fullest on this last day while ruminating on wasted opportunities and lost potential—watching the characters do this was an absolute joy. Their day was not predictable, and even in places where it kind of us, it still was surprising and delightful, in spite of the incredibly dark notion of their impending deaths lurking around at every moment.


Puerto Rican Mateo and Cuban-American Rufus meet through the Last Friend app, an app designed to help you meet up with someone to spend your last day with. Their connection is immediate, intense, and one that deserves far longer to play out than the time allotted to them. Rufus, a bisexual foster kid, has really only had fellow foster kids Aimee, Malcolm, and Tagoe to turn to since his parents and sister died not long ago. And he can’t spend his last day with them for complicated reasons involving the police and a nameless gang. Mateo has really only ever had his dad, who is in a coma (his mother died in childbirth), and his best friend Lidia, who he doesn’t want to die in front of. Neither Mateo nor Rufus could have possibly expected to find such a powerful match on their End Day. Together, they struggle with the guilt and pain of both living and dying all while falling in love at the absolute worst time. On their End Day, they laugh, dance, sing, “skydive,” share their stories, say goodbyes, witness others’ End Days, cry, hurt, heal, and live.


The chapters alternate between Mateo and Rufus, with many brief chapters about the lives of those that surround them—their friends, people at the Death-Cast call center, the nameless gang, and others—showing how Rufus and Mateo’s lives were linked with their own. Every chapter is bursting with life and plans and regrets, and every chapter brings us one step closer to that inevitable ending. Told with warmth and humor and so much love, Silvera creates a stunningly powerful examination of what it means to really live your life. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Mateo and Rufus, but isn’t that how life always works?


Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062457790

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 09/05/2017

Book Review: Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

Publisher’s description

girl-out-of-waterFans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will fall in love this contemporary debut about finding yourself-and finding love-in unexpected places.

Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.

Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.

Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.


Amanda’s thoughts

This is an excellent book to add to your summer reading lists or summer reading displays you may be making.


Anise is not thrilled to be leaving behind her large group of close friends in Santa Cruz to spend the summer helping care for her cousins in Nebraska. Many of her friends will be heading off to college in the fall, so it’s their last real summer together. But Anise loves her family and knows how much her aunt, recently in a car accident, needs the help, so she quickly gets over her attitude and immerses herself in her new, temporary life. Her cousins include busy 9-year-old twin boys and a somewhat secretive and moody nearly 13-year-old girl. For Anise, an only child whose mom bailed a long time ago, it’s a much different pace of life than she’s used to. Prior to this, she had never left California and can’t understand why anyone would want to. Why are her friends going away to college when life at home is so idyllic? Nebraska has a high potential to suck: there’s no ocean for surfing, Anise is away from her friends, and she’ll be spending the summer in the house her absent mother grew up in. But before long, she meets the instantly warm and chatty Lincoln, a skateboarder who loves adventure. He convinces Anise to start skating and they hang out a lot. Despite having kissed her best friend, Eric, the night before leaving CA, it’s instantly obvious that Anise and Lincoln will have a thing. While Anise still feels it’s hard to be away from her friends and all the action back home, she becomes pretty crappy at communicating with her friends now that she’s spending so much time with Lincoln. Lincoln has moved around a lot and wants to travel the world, something Anise just can’t understand, stubbornly clinging to the idea that Santa Cruz is the only place for her. But the summer away isn’t all skating and kissing. Anise grapples with her feelings about her mother’s (repeated) abandonment and eventually starts to worry if she’s somehow like her and if maybe her life is a reaction to her mother’s inability to stay in one place. When she and Lincoln road trip back to Santa Cruz, she also discovers that friendship (and communication) is more complicated than she thought.


This is a quick, relatively light read. I found the middle 80%, where she’s in Nebraska and discovering new people, experiences, and feelings to be much more engaging than her time at home with her friends. Anise is a little self-centered and oblivious, but that’s certainly nothing to hold against a teenager (or a person, period). While there are certainly more serious topics that come up in the story, they’re not particularly explored much in depth, resulting in what feels like just a nice, quick summer read—some summer adventure, new experiences, and romance that seems time-limited. Silverman’s debut has wide appeal and will be an easy one to recommend this summer to fans of contemporary YA. 


Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781492646860

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication date: 05/02/2017

Book Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Publisher’s description

psSigned, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in Chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk, and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters — sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery, and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

Kasie West brings irresistible wit, warmth, and sparkle to this swoon-worthy story of love showing up when you least expect it.


Amanda’s thoughts

This is an easy title to recommend to anyone looking for a light, fun romance. Guitar-playing, song-writing Lily Abbott kind of keeps to herself. She hangs out with her best friend, Isabel Gonzales, when Isabel isn’t with her boyfriend, and that’s about it. She’s quietly crushing on senior Lucas, and Isabel wants to try to set her up with someone, but none of that really goes anywhere. At home, life is chaotic. Money is tight, her two younger brothers are wild and need lots of babysitting, and she shares a room with her older sister. When she starts exchanging notes with a mysterious pen pal, she starts to reveal more of herself. Before long, she can hardly wait to reach under her Chemistry desk and grab the note that will be waiting for her. She and her pen pal seem to have a real connection. It would be really easy for Lily to actually figure out who her pen pal is, but she doesn’t want to. She likes the mystery. Me? After day one I would have been getting a hall pass to walk by the classroom every single period and see who was sitting in my same desk. I’m not patient and I don’t like not knowing things. But Lily doesn’t mind.


It’s clear that Lily and her pen pal are totally right for each other, but when Lily learns who the mysterious correspondent is, she can hardly believe it–and not in a good way. She can’t imagine continuing to write to this person… but also, she can’t stop. Lots of confusion, uncertainty, and mistaken assumptions happen as the pen pals fall for each other and have to reconcile their on-paper personas with what they know of each other in “real life.” A fun, cute, quick read perfect to add to your summer reading list. 


Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780545850971

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

Publication date: 07/26/2016

Book Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

under the lightsPublisher’s description:

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.


Amanda’s thoughts:

This is the second book in the Daylight Falls series, but it can be read on its own (though I’d bet that doing so would inspire readers to go back and read the first book). Though it deals with some serious issues, this book was so much fun. And let’s talk about that cover! It’s so bright and eye-catching, right? We seem to have finally entered into a world where books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters actually have covers that indicate that (never mind how excited I am that we seem to finally be beyond the whole partial bodies/headless bodies phase). One of my biggest pet peeves is when something on the cover seems to not be representative of the book or when the people on the cover look nothing like how they are described in the book. Here both a major part of the story and the characters are captured well.


This is not just a story about Hollywood kids partying (though they do) and hooking up. The characters and situations have depth and deal with plenty of problems that we non-Hollywood folks can relate to—long-distance relationships, issues with parents, feeling uncertain about the future, and figuring out who you really are. Though a lot of times I wanted to kick Josh for being such so smarmy, it was so great to watch the slow transformation he undergoes, particularly in his friendship with Vanessa. He gains depth and becomes much more fully developed by the end of the story. There’s a lot more to him than just drinking and hooking up with any girl who’s willing.


While Josh certainly takes up much of the story, it’s Vanessa and Bri who are the real ones to watch here. I LOVED seeing their relationship develop. For Vanessa, who had never really considered liking girls before, falling for Bri was a total surprise. Everything about how she processed her feelings, how she shared her truth, and how she finally embraced her identity was fantastic. She’s conflicted and scared, but also knows that she has completely fallen for Bri. They form such a solid bond and are so open and supportive of each other. Watching them flirt and fall in love was so much FUN.


In August I will be sharing a crowdsourced post about great relationships and  sex/consent-positive scenes in LGBTQIA+ YA. Under the Lights got a LOT of love on Twitter for being a book featuring a great relationship between two girls as well as Adler writing some really fantastic and sexy making out/having sex scenes.


I’m hoping this fun and smart read will reach a wide audience, as it will appeal to all kinds of readers. While Adler certainly addresses some deep issues (race, sexuality, careers, and the pressures that come with all of those things), I finished the book and was mostly left feeling that it was just so much fun and so satisfying. Hoping to see more of Vanessa, Bri, Josh, and friends in the future.


Review copy courtesy of NetGalley

ISBN-13: 9781633920170

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Publication date: 06/30/2015

Series: Daylight Falls Series, #2