Today I’m featuring BETTER THAN THE MOVIES by Lynn Painter, an adorable YA rom-com that will give you ALL the feels!
Read on for my thoughts on the book, and then make sure you also check out Lynn’s list of top ten addictions—her fun writing style shines even in this one small guest post, and I think you’ll see why I love it so much.
Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 4, 2021
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Source: The Publisher
Cover Artist: Liz Casal
My content rating: YA: Nothing more than kissing, Involves past death of a parent
In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.
Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.
The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.
But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.
Sometimes you need a book that just makes you smile. A book that makes you forget all the stuff around the house you should be doing or the homework you’re supposed to be getting done or the fact that 2021 still isn’t exactly what you hoped it would be. This is that book. As soon as I got it in the mail, I just knew I needed to read it immediately. If you’re a fan of the iconic romantic comedies of the 90s and early 2000s (think You’ve Got Mail, 10 Things I Hate About You, Bridget Jones’ Diary…) you’ll absolutely adore this book, but I think that anyone who loves romance can relate to Liz’s desire for her own movie-worthy moment. Just look at today’s epic promposals and you’ll see that big romantic gestures are still the key to a girl’s heart.
Liz’s love for old romantic movies has a deeper meaning for her, though, because it reminds her of nights spent with her mom, who passed away when she was younger. The book explores the complicated feelings that accompany blended families, especially in the face of loss. Even though Liz’s grief is mostly in the past, her senior year brings up many emotions that she wasn’t expecting. All the little moments that she felt like she should be sharing with her mom, like getting ready for prom, feel spoiled for her. And even though she wants to let her stepmother in, in some ways that feels like a betrayal. This side of the story beautifully balances what would otherwise feel like a sweet and fluffy romance.
Then, of course, there’s the romance. This book employs my favorite type of hate to love trope—the kind where old wounds and misunderstanding blend into the current situation. I’m never much of a fan of a book where the main love interest is kind of a jerk but the girl falls for him anyway. In this story, Liz does think of Wes as a bit of a cocky bully, but it’s more due to a childhood rivalry than any actual wrongdoing on Wes’s part. Even his teasing banter always comes off as fun when you’re looking at it from the outside, but you can still see why Liz doesn’t necessarily see it that way at first. I fell for Wes right away, so I was rooting for this couple from the start! Oh, and then the book also incorporates my absolute favorite romance trope, the fake dating trope. Yep, Lynn Painter, you know the key to my heart.
So, basically, I enjoyed every minute of reading this book. I picked it up and didn’t want to put it down. Right now, with the reading slump I’ve been in, that is a true triumph, and I can think of no higher compliment for a book. If you’re looking for a little mental getaway, you need this book in your life!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own and no compensation was given.***
About the Author
Lynn Painter lives with her husband and pack of wild children in Nebraska, where she is a weekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald and an avid fan of napping. When working on a new book, she can often be found sound asleep on her office floor. Some might say she should grow up and stop randomly dozing off like she’s a toddler, but Lynn considers it part of her writing “process.”
Yeah – because that totally makes it legit.
Lynn’s Top Ten Addictions
1. ENERGY DRINKS
Spare me the lecture – I know I need to stop. 😊
But if I’m being honest here, my truth is that I guzzle cans of Rockstar like they are oxygen and I am lungs. Like they are Bella’s blood and I am Edward Cullen. Like they are Kryptonite and I am a tired, thirsty person who is NOT Superman. Like…ehrm, like they are bird seed and I am the upside-down squirrel who is desperately trying to break into the backyard feeder this very minute.
Okay, no matter how badly I try to spin it – and that was dreadfully bad – I’m just a weak person who doesn’t get enough sleep and relies upon chemical-laden bubbly beverages to stay alert. #SueMe #SorryNotSorry
2. ROMANCE NOVELS
Give me historical, give me contemporary, give me YA – I love them all and will happily re-read my favorites. I live for the will-they-or-won’t-they pull of these books, the tumultuous journey that always results in the HEA.
3. NETFLIX BINGES
I don’t have a lot of time for TV, but there are occasions – like the days where I’m between deadlines – when I go HARD on Netflix. I love to watch episode-after-episode-after-episode into the wee hours of the night. Bridgerton, The Crown, You, The Handmaid’s Tale – I cannot wait for their return, although I’m currently working on multiple books so it’s best for me if they stay gone for a bit longer.
I’ve dialed it back during the pandemic, only placing online drive-up orders, but I cannot wait to return to the bullseye of my heart. There’s just something about leisurely strolling through a place where I can grab a cup of coffee, my favorite foods, a stack of books, a new notebook, an adorable pair of boots and a package of underpants. Talk about a potpourri of wonderous things!
As if that isn’t dreamy enough, I can roll on over to the home goods and find furniture to lust after, organizational systems which make me want to clean things, and an array of mismatched items to stick on a shelf and pretend they look cool.
If a more perfect store exists, my budget doesn’t want to know about it.
My ADD shines through in my listening habits, so I adore a platform where I can waste copious amounts of time listening to the first twenty seconds of a thousand new songs, only to return to the one playlist that I always listen to on repeat.
6. TAYLOR SWIFT
I’m sorry if you’re not a Swiftie, but no one can deny her lyrical genius. NO ONE. She is my go-to artist to listen to while writing, and one of my favorite things is slipping her lines into my books where the only ones who will know are the ones who know. I’m certain I should pretend to prefer a more mature music, like classical or jazz, but this is just who I am.
7. PEANUT BUTTER TOAST
I loathe when I have to stop writing and actually – gasp – prepare food, so I’ve been on a kick as of late where I pretty much just eat PB toast for breakfast AND lunch (and sometimes dinner).
8. NOT CLEANING
This answer probably doesn’t count, but I haaaaaaaaaaaate laundry and mopping and dusting. Also, anything that involves a sponge. So when I’m on a writing deadline, I’m absolutely addicted to dreading it, procrastinating over it, and putting it off until I cannot take it any longer.
I grew up watching rom-coms and have never looked back. They are pretty much the only movies I ever want to watch (and re-watch). I can not only quote every word of both When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail, but I can also quote every noise, grunt and musical note that occurs within those films.
And I’m not bragging here – oh, no. Moreso, I’m confessing to being incredibly good at wasting time.
10. MY FAM
Is that lame to say? Yeah, it’s probably lame. But, like, my husband is the funniest person I’ve ever known and constantly keeps me entertained. And my kindergartner has those squishable cheeks that I’m addicted to squishing on a daily basis, so that should count, right? And my sons are all loud and obnoxious in the very best way, so I’m addicted to the madness that comes out of their mouths. My oldest daughter, on the other hand, is the coolest person I know, so I’m also addicted to hanging out with her in hopes of a coolness rub-off type of thing.
Hmmm….yeah, I was right. That was totally lame.
See what I mean? How can you not want to read more from a person who speaks so passionately about her local Target? (A worthy obsession, I might add.) And a love of not-cleaning? I’m all-in on that club!
What was the last book you read that just made you want to smile? I want to know!