Opposites Attract? A Walk in the Sun by Michelle Zink and Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

I recently read two YA titles that could not have been more different. One featured sincere, heartfelt characters living off the land and trying to make the right life choices. The other featured superficial, self-absorbed characters sashaying around Hollywood trying to out scheme the others. 

 Maybe you'll like one. Or the other. Or both!  

A Walk in the Sun

by Michelle Zink

Published on May 3, 2106
by Harper Teen

Source: eARC for review from publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: Rose Darrow never wanted to spend her life working on her family’s farm. But when her family is rocked by an unexpected tragedy she has no choice but to put her plans for the future—and dreams of escaping her small town—on hold. Bodhi Lowell left home as a kid and hasn’t looked back. Years of working farm jobs has given him the one thing he wants most: freedom to travel without answering to anyone. He’s already looking past his job at Darrow Farm and plans on leaving in September—until he meets Rose. Neither Rose nor Bodhi can deny the sparks flying between them, but with the end of summer looming, they must decide if it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.... 
My take: This book was a little slow-paced, but very sweet, with lots of interesting details about life on a farm (since reading Laura Ingalls Wilder as a kid I've been fascinated by stories about people actually living off the land) and characters who felt honest and sincere.

A Walk in the Sun is definitely a grief book of sorts -- Rose's mom has died in the past year, and while Rose is managing as best as she can, her father isn't. Rose should be heading off to college and testing the waters of independence, but her guilt and her love for her father are keeping her on the family farm, working and keeping an eye on him.

When an attractive young farmhand shows up to help (stop smirking!) she's drawn to him. After a summer of romance, Rose will have to choose between family and loyalty vs. adventure and love.

The book's Goodreads blurb calls this Bridges of Madison County for teenagers. (But lol -- I don't think any teenagers today were around in 1992 when that book came out!) While I think that comparison does this book a huge disservice, I see the parallels. I mean, there's the whole farm girl meets attractive drifter thing in both, but the woman in that book was married and Rose isn't cheating. Yes, there's another guy who clearly likes Rose, but there's no triangle at all.

If you're in the mood for something sweet and romantic and a touch old-fashioned, give this a try!

Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)
by Alyson Noel
To be published on May 10, 2016
by Katherine Tegen Books

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago. She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel. That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
My take:  First off, and apropos of nothing, this cover is super-weird and I don't get it. And Unrivaled is cheesy and completely implausible but enjoyable in an airbrushed, glossy US Weekly kind of way. If you love over-the-top reality shows about people trying to get famous in Hollywood, you might like this book too.

The premise is a competition about club promotion (not as boring as it sounds!) in which a bunch of eighteen year-old Hollywood wannabes are brought together by a rich guy who owns a bunch of hot Hollywood nightclubs. In a reality TV-like format, they battle it out to lure the most celebrities (and patrons) to their assigned club.

The characters are a mix of scrappy underdogs and spoiled princesses, all keeping soap opera secrets. There's a celebrity in a fauxmance, a rich girl who's like a character out of Shahs of Sunset, a rocker chick with a motorcycle and artist dad. None of these characters are very deep. All are completely gorgeous, with "tanned, toned thighs," violet/emerald/sapphire eyes, and perfect hair. Of course. There's a purported murder, some blackmail, and a bunch of overdramatic internal monologue: "victory was about to be hers" mwah ha ha!

But for the right readers with the right expectations, this could be a fun, diverting book for summer.

Do either of these appeal to you? Tell me in comments!


  1. Maybe the first book, yeah. I've read The Bridges of Madison County so I'm curious about the parallelization. As for the second book, a hard pass. I'm not a fan of reality tv, so I wouldn't want to read about it. Lol.

    1. Definitely try the first and let me know how you think it compares to Bridges!

  2. The BoMC is a weird comparison for today's teens lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. Yeah, it is on Broadway (I think) but otherwise not really on teen radar, I'd guess...

  3. Well, I'll definitely be skipping Unrivaled. I wanted to try it originally because of the author, but it doesn't sound like anything I'd enjoy. I'm happy about A Walk in the Sun since I have the arc and I was just thinking today of picking that up. I have been in the mood for sweet, simple romance right now so that sounds right up my alley. :)

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

    1. I had no idea what to expect, and I'd read Noel's paranormal stuff. This isn't my typical read but at the time I read it I needed something really distracting, and this fit the bill!

  4. The first book sounds cute. I think if in the mood for it I would really enjoy it. I have seen the second cover around a lot lately and totally thought it was weird - but I also had no idea what it was about. I think I could also enjoy that one if in the mood. Great reviews!

  5. WOW!! After reading your review this sounds a lot like that book series that Lauren Conrad wrote.... which I actually read the first book and it was pretty terrible. I kind of liked the cover, but was hoping it would mean something in the story?? If not, it is kind of weird then!

  6. Unrivaled actually sounds kinda interesting (and honestly slightly stupid). Not sure if I'm gonna read it though, Alyson Noels' Evermore series was kinda meh and annoying.


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