New YA Contemporary Romances: Dash & Lily and Instant Karma Reviews

November 12, 2020 by Jenna | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

New YA Contemporary Romances: Dash & Lily and Instant Karma ReviewsMind the Gap, Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Published by Allen & Unwin Children's on October 20, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Timed to coincide with the Netflix release of DASH AND LILY, Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily serves up a new helping of love, friendship and Christmas as best-selling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan send Dash and Lily to England - to find their futures, and hopefully find each other again as well.

After Dash gets accepted into Oxford University and Lily stays in New York to take care of her dog-walking business, the devoted couple struggle to make a long-distance relationship work. And when Dash breaks the news that he won't be coming home for Christmas, Lily makes a decision: if Dash can't return to New York, she'll just have to go to London.

It's a perfect romantic gesture... that spins out of Lily's control. Soon Dash and Lily are feeling more of a gap between them, even though they're in the same city. Will London bring them together again - or will it be their undoing?

This wonderful holiday read will delight readers from start to finish.

I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares years and years ago and absolutely loved it. And I’m so excited that it’s now a Netflix series, and I’ve been loving the first few episodes that I’ve seen (highly recommend)! Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily is the third book in this series, following The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily, and its release coincides with the release of the Netflix series.

Even though it’s been many years since I last read Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, I still remember very vividly how much I loved both Dash and Lily. I mean, what bibliophile doesn’t love a book about bibliophiles? But the characterisation in these books is perfection and Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily is no exception. In this novel, we get to see an older Dash and Lily who are both trying to find themselves and figure out what they want to do with their futures. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story that doesn’t shy away from the anxieties related to the transition out of high school and figuring out where your significant other fits in with your plans. Or how your plans fit in with your significant other.

Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily is set in London, which is an interesting new setting for these characters. Dash is currently studying in Oxford and when he announces that he’s staying in England for Christmas, Lily decides to surprise him. But when they reunite, it almost seems as though they no longer know each other and the gap between them seems almost impossible to close. As they both struggle to work through what they want and who they are, it appears as though they are stronger together.

I loved the plot of this book. It’s likely not the cheery, fluffy holiday novel you’re expecting but it’s still full of love and warmth. Not to mention hilarious and larger than life characters. I really enjoyed the London setting – it was a nice change from the New York City that I associate with Dash and Lily. But perhaps the best thing about this novel is that you don’t need to have read the previous ones to enjoy it. It’s simply a story about two teens trying to figure things out while trying to hold on to what they love most in the world.

I was so happy to be back in this world of Dash and Lily’s and it was an absolute bonus that the plot and themes of Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily were completely up my alley. It’s a quick read that packs a punch and I highly recommend the books if you’re looking for a holiday read. And I absolutely cannot wait to finish the Netflix series!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a review copy.

Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily is now available at all Australian retailers for $19.99 RRP.


New YA Contemporary Romances: Dash & Lily and Instant Karma ReviewsInstant Karma by Marissa Meyer
Published by Pan Australia on November 10, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Magical Realism, Romance, Young Adult
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Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgement on the residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her.

Pru giddily makes use of the power, flexing it on everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers. But there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy.

Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself. She discovers how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Marissa Meyer book, mainly because I was so disappointed by Heartless (click for Jeann’s review). I bought Renegades and started the first chapter but it’s been sitting on my “currently reading” Goodreads shelf since 2018. But I absolutely love contemporary YA and I was excited for the premise of this book and what it promised. And I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

Instant Karma is set in a beach town in California and the novel follows Prudence and the character development she undergoes as she learns that not everything in the world is as it appears and that people who act in a questionable way don’t necessarily deserve punishment from the universe. The book also highlights the need for marine conservation and the importance of sea animal rescue.

I really enjoyed the plot of the book and the awareness it brought to marine conservation. Everything played out at a wonderful pace and I highly enjoyed the setting of the novel and how well it worked with the major themes. I also loved all the Beatles references and how Pru and all her siblings were named after Beatles songs (Prudence, Jude, Lucy, Penny and Eleanor). However, I did have problems connecting with Pru for the first third of the book. She was judgmental and honestly a bit frustrating to read about, but her character development really shone through. I loved how she learned to connect with others around her and to let go of her judgments about them, particularly when it came to Quint. I absolutely loved Quint in this book. He was really relatable and I loved how his relationship with Pru grew throughout the book.

The only aspect of the book that I was a bit unsure about was her ability to cast instant karma on those around her. It didn’t really seem like a necessary part of the book, though it did contribute to some pieces of the story. I just felt like there wasn’t really a need for it and the book would’ve worked just as well if it had been purely contemporary without any weird powers.

All in all, I really enjoyed Instant Karma and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a summery and fun contemporary YA novel. It’s a little bit of a change from Marissa Meyer’s previous books (though I haven’t read enough of Renegades to make that judgment) but it was wonderfully written and entertaining.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy.

Instant Karma is now available at all Australian retailers for $19.99 RRP.

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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