ARC Review | Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

Not My Problem

by Ciara Smyth

YA Contemporary, LGBTQ

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Aideen has plenty of problems she can’t fix. Her best (and only) friend is pulling away. Her mother’s drinking problem is a constant concern. She’s even running out of outlandish diseases to fake so she can skip PE.

But when Aideen stumbles on her nemesis, overachiever Meabh Kowalski, in the midst of a full-blown meltdown, she sees a problem that—unlike her own disaster of a life—seems refreshingly easy to solve. Meabh is desperate to escape her crushing pile of extracurriculars. Aideen volunteers to help. By pushing Meabh down the stairs.

Problem? Solved. Meabh’s sprained ankle is the perfect excuse to ditch her overwhelming schedule. But when another student learns about their little scheme and brings Aideen another “client” who needs her “help,” it kicks off a semester of traded favors, ill-advised hijinks, and an unexpected chance at love. Fixing other people’s problems won’t fix her own, but it might be the push she needs to start.

Thank you so much to the author for sending me an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth was one of my favourite books I read last year (you can check out my full review here) and as soon as I heard the details about her second YA novel, I knew I was going to love it just as much. And to be honest, I might have loved it even more! I set my expectations high for this and I’m so glad that it delivered to every single one!

Smyth’s second novel follows loosely in the style of Sex Education meets Derry Girls. The main character is Aideen, and turns to fixing her classmate’s problems instead of her own, setting up a little business where she does something for someone in return for an owed favour. I thought the premise of this was so clever and funny that I was instantly drawn in, and I knew this was a story with a lot of potential.

I thought the characters in this were so great and so well-developed. I found myself so invested in not just the protagonist Aideen, but the side characters like Meabh, Aideen’s mam and Kavi too. I even loved all the side characters that came in and out everytime they needed Aideen to solve one of their problems – this really had a strong ensemble cast. But what I loved most was just how engaging Aideen was as a main character – she had a personality that was bursting with life on the pages, and I found it so easy to follow her voice and really get invested in her story as if she were my own friend. This is definitely one of Smyth’s strengths that appear in both of her novels, the way she can craft these protagonists so vividly and allow the reader to get so attached.

I also loved how funny this was, but how well she managed to balance humour with emotion. There were so many times throughout this story where I was laughing out loud, and the next minute I could feel my heartstrings being pulled on and I just wanted to give Aideen a hug. I think this is so important and such a triumph for Smyth—the ability to blend both emotion and humour so well together and it really elevated the story for me.

The story had a great pace, and I found myself racing through it because I was just so invested in the story. I was also a massive fan of the slow-burn/enemies-to-lovers romance and I thought this was done beautifully. If you’re looking for a funny, heartfelt sapphic YA novel – I can’t reccomend Not My Problem enough! Out in May, this is definitely not a book you want to miss!

Review | The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

The Falling in Love Montage

by Ciara Smyth

YA Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ

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Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.

But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

Guys, this BOOK. This book. I’m honestly going to be raving about this for the rest of the review because I loved it so much, so if that’s not your thing, you should probably leave now.

The Falling in Love Montage follows the hilarious Saoirse, a teenager from Ireland who’s just finished exams and wants a summer of fun to take away from her problems. Enter Ruby. Together, they plan a summer of the typical scenes you would see in a “falling in love” montage in many rom-coms, with no ties to each other once the summer is over. But as I’m sure you can expect, they don’t realise just how head over heels they end up falling for each other.

This book was AMAZING. Geniunely. I loved the premise, I thought Smyth weaved it through the story in such clever and fun ways, but she also made the book super emotive that I found myself completely attached to many of the characters throughout. I thought Saoirse was so hilarious and authentic and she is definitely one of the best main characters I’ve ever read. I also loved her dad, Ruby and especially Oliver, he was the perfect ingredient to tie the book all together.

Not only was the voice of the novel equally heart-tugging and hilarious, I also thought the pace of the book was perfect. There was never a point where I found myself bored, I was constantly engrossed in the story and how Ruby and Saoirse’s romance would unfold. Also, as an Irish reader I loved this even more because there were so many nods and mentions that I picked up on and I loved seeing that in a book, rather than it being set in the standard UK or US.

I just loved this so much and my only issue with it is that I didn’t pick it up sooner! A wonderfully enchanting romance that will absolutely make your heart swoon! If you haven’t read this one yet, please do!