About the Book:
Mary Porter-Malcolm has prepared for high school in the one way she knows how:an extensive review of classic literature to help navigate the friendships, romantic liaisons, and overall drama she has come to expect from such an “esteemed” institution. Her love of literature even inspires her to imagine herself the heroine of a nineteenth-century novel. Not the sort who makes poor life choices and ends up dying of consumption while still in her teens, but the noble, virtuous, quick-witted type.
When some new friends seem in danger of falling for the same tricks employed since the days of Austen and Tolstoy, Mary swoops in to create the Scoundrel Survival Guide, using archetypes of literature’s debonair bad boys to signal red flags. But despite her best efforts, she soon finds herself unable to listen to her own good advice and falling for a supposed cad—the same one she warned her friends away from.Without a convenient rain-swept moor to flee to, Mary is forced to admit that reallife doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction and that if she wants a happy ending,she’s going to have to write it herself.
About the Author:
Debut author Amanda Sellet had a previous career in journalism, during which she wrote book reviews for The Washington Post, personal essays for NPR, and music and movie coverage for VH1.These days she lives in Kansas with her archaeologist husband and their daughter.
Things I liked:
- I loved all the references to classics! It was so fun when Mary would explain the plot or the romance of a classic to her friends so bluntly. It made me giggle a lot throughout the book. And the glossary of all her references and the corresponding books were super fun to read at the end.
- I love the love interest Alex. He was well developed, and the romance between the two was paced well. It wasn’t insta-love, and it didn’t come out of nowhere at the end.
- I loved the large family dynamic! Mary’s family was so fun to read about! I especially loved reading about Cam and her romance, so I hope she gets her own book.
- Speaking of family dynamics, I also loved the “found family” trope with all of Mary’s friends and their quest to give Mary the typical teenage experience. They were all unique in their own way, and my favorite was definitely Lydia as she was sassy and the first to call people out on their bullshit.
- I also really liked the writing throughout the book. Sellet has a way of writing that flows, and it was easy to read; nothing too flowery, but also not juvenile.
Things I didn’t like:
- I really didn’t like how naive and immature Mary was at the beginning of the book. It got better as the book progressed, but it was really unrealistic how sheltered a sophomore in high school would be. Mary didn’t even have a phone, which is unheard of in 2020.
- I also didn’t like how Mary always gave out relationship advice to her friends or her sisters, but didn’t follow any of her own advice when she screwed up. She just ran away and actively avoided her problems until the very end, which was pretty annoying. The only saving grace was her brother Jasper trying to talk sense into her.
- I wish Alex was in it more. While the book is ultimately about Mary experiencing what is a “typical teenage” experience, but a little more romance would have been nice.
Overall, By The Book was such a fun read! It wasn’t the most memorable book, but worth the read nonetheless. If you are looking for a bookish read, then check out this book!
I also made a playlist of songs that go with parts of the book! These are some of my favorite songs and artists, and when I was reading By The Book, I found myself thinking of these songs as I was reading it!
- Why Do You Feel So Down by Declan Mckenna
- Gorgeous by Taylor Swift
- All Hail The Heartbreaker by The Spill Canvas
- Best Friend by Rex Orange County
- Bookstore Girl by Charlie Burg
- Television Romance by Pale Waves
- I like U by NIKI
- So Alright, Cool, Whatever by The Happy Fits
- The King by Conan Gray
- Loving is Easy by Rex Orange County
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Also, the publisher is giving away one copy of By The Book, so click the image below to enter to win your own copy! An additional giveaway is up on my Instagram, so head on over there to enter for another copy 🙂