Friday, March 22, 2019

"Small Town Hearts" by Lillie Vale

Small Town Hearts
by Lillie Vale

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.
And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had - to never fall for a summer boy?

An hour before closing time, a stranger walked into the Busy Bean.
Next to me, Lucy dumped coffee grounds in the recycling bin. She bent over, flicking wet grounds off her fingers. “Hey, Babe, can you—”
“I’ve got it,” I said, grabbing my notepad from the counter, already on my way. The new guy was cute. If our new seasonal waitress had been out here, she would have tried to get to him first.
The boy hovered awkwardly near one of the corner tables. He was tall and lithe, with mussed brown hair that was on the side of gold, and a blue polo that brought out his eyes.
“Is anywhere fine?”
“Yeah,” I said, gesturing to the available seating. “I can take your order here if you’re ready or you can just come up later, if you need a few minutes.”
Mystery Boy chose a table that came from a home and garden center, chipped mosaics of stone in the face of a woman on the circular surface. The chair he sat on was wrought-iron and from a different patio set, the green seat plump and gleaming with the sheen of new leather.
He glanced at the chalk menu on the wall behind the counter. A smile bloomed over his face. “Nice art.”
I followed his gaze. Lucy alternated between neat capitals and loopy lettering to advertise the regular items and the day’s specials. Her daisy-chain border was in neon yellow, and some of the flowers had faces.
“Yeah, my friend’s a regular Matisse,” I joked.
The boy laughed, a rich, velvety sound, like the decadent filling inside a chocolate truffle.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale is a queer small-town romance that will give you major butterflies.” ~ Bustle
“A wistful, lingering romance. The best kind of summer love story - filled with characters that make you wish you could hang out forever in their small East Coast haven. I loved it!” ~ Aminah Mae Safi, author of Not the Girls You're Looking For
“It is a story of summer romance, friendship, breakups, baking, art, beaches and sandcastles. You will fall in love with Babe and Levi and would instantly want to visit Oar’s Rest. ... You absolutely need this amazing summery contemporary in your life.” ~ Flipping Through the Pages
“The writing is beautiful. The story is genuine. The characters reach out to you. In the world full of clichés, here's to one of my favorite book which defied them.” ~ Ojas, Swoon Reader
“The town of Oar's Rest sounds so real and the landscape of sand, sea, and small town life is painted with masterful brush strokes... I was hooked from the first page ... This is a story to be cherished and read over and over.” ~ AimeDelay, Swoon Reader

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
It’s the summer after high school graduation in the small beachside holiday town of Oar’s Rest. Babe has been looking forward to spending it with her best friend Penny and Penny’s boyfriend Chad. Babe knows things will change when they start college, she just wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly. First, a misunderstanding leads to her losing both of her friends. Then Levi, the cute customer at the coffee shop where she works, catches her attention - but she knows better than to date a summer boy after what happened to her mother. And, finally, her ex shows up and starts making waves. It’s not quite the summer Babe was expecting. But it might just turn out to be even better.
It took a while to get the drift of this book, as I couldn’t tell who the narrator was or even what sex they were for half of the first chapter. In addition, it felt like I had missed a previous book, as we are thrown into the story and given very little background information. For example, it’s not explained how two recent high school graduates have their own homes (Babe the lighthouse and Penny the houseboat) until about a quarter of the way in. The chapters are very long, and the book is extremely long overall for a young adult novel, although it’s probably technically new adult (but without the explicit sex). There’s a lot of unnecessary detail throughout, but it all adds to the atmosphere. The book is extremely well-written, with near-perfect editing, and littered with gorgeous seaside similes and metaphors. Sights, sounds, tastes, and smells are evocatively portrayed, and I loved the descriptions of the food, so much so that I was disappointed there was no recipe at the end. Perhaps an accompanying cookbook is in order? 
By the end, you’ll want to visit this town and meet all of its inhabitants. An impressive debut.
Warnings: coarse language, underage drinking, sexual references, LGBT themes, drug use.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“… I wasn’t that girl anymore. That was what no one told you about the road not taken. You can’t go back to the start of something that was never yours to begin with. Sometimes you just had to deal with taking the wrong exit ramp.”
“Hearts were fickle things, always willing to beat for the exact wrong person.”
“… she was right. People who had hit their friend quotient tended not to look outside the equation.”
“He was just another memory waiting to happen.”
“Success, or anything, really, doesn’t come with a pushpin. You can’t just stick a destination into a map and think there’s just the one route that gets you there. And if you wind up right back where you started . . . well, that’s okay, too. We get to come back from our mistakes.”
“Beginnings could be scary, and there was always a chance that the ending wouldn’t be pretty, but the middle was what made it all worth it.”
“‘This feels—I’ve never—’ I couldn’t even articulate it. ‘God, I’ve lost the ability to word.’”

About the Author
Lillie Vale
Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many US states and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen. Small Town Hearts is her debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (US only).


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