Mini Reviews : departures, new beginnings and self-discovery

Hi friends! How are you today? I hope your week was great. Today is reviewing day and I’m back with the mini-reviews because well…I just read too many books. Also, these may be so-not-mini-reviews, but I sometimes can’t stop. Ooops. #noregrets

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Points of Departure, Emilie O’Beirnegoodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

As someone who really, really loves to travel, I am always on the lookout for some sweet contemporaries where characters are going on an adventure like that. Points of Departure offers exactly that and I’m thrilled to say that, yes, I went on an adventure with them – just not quite the one I was expecting.

As in many contemporaries, this story is more about the characters than the actual destinations and traveling. Told in four different point of view, the story follows an unlikely group of friends as they get into this journey, from Australia to Europe, on a crazy trip they all had planned but won’t go at all like they imagined it to. If I am not such a fan of multiple point of views, I’m glad to say that they were all well-handled, each character was different and went through a different development, different struggles. Something that was weird here, though, was the fact that the book was told from FOUR different point of views, yet there were FIVE girls on this trip – it felt a bit weird to me that Mai was left out of this, not interesting enough to be one of the point of views of the story? It also made me a bit sad because, for that reason, I couldn’t quite connect to her just as much.

If I really enjoyed the characters, I felt a bit sad that the story didn’t use its setting as much as I expected it to. Traveling in Europe, from Portugal to Albania to England, there were so many opportunities to make the setting “pop” a little more into the story, with vivid colors and descriptions and people, without making it overshadowing the development of the characters, obviously, but still, I would have loved to get more of the countries, cultures and vibes of their traveling through the story, to make this even more perfect.

Points of Departure was a sweet contemporary, one you can quickly get lost in and one that very easily brings in diverse characters, something that should be noted. LGBT characters, characters from diverse backgrounds and cultures are part of the story and they are NOT the story’s main arc at all. They’re just part of the story, not making the story.

“The seductiveness of always being about to get someplace, the promise of the journey, compared to the reality of the destination”

My rating : 4 drops !

test rating 4

KEY WORDS: travel, Europe, contemporary, LGBT romance, friendships, school pressure.

You love contemporary and stories about traveling but most of it all, finding yourself and don’t mind multiple POV stories.


First and Then, Emma Millsgoodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

First and Then has, in its synopsis already, all of the elements that could make me love this book. A sweet coming-of-age story about a girl, a boy she did not expect, a brother she did not expect. Both somewhat about finding yourself, someone you did not expect to, and some ones you did not expect to love.

As always in my contemporaries, I need to talk about the characters. I was pleasantly surprised to see how realistic and three dimensional they all felt. At first, I had a hard time getting into the story because of the main character and her particular voice: to be honest, I found her a bit annoying and felt like shaking some sense, some motivation, something to make her more pro-active into this story. As the story went on, though, I found myself growing more and more attached to her as I got to get to know her better and actually understand and enjoy her.
The other characters were as three-dimensional as Devon, which I really enjoyed: there was always more to uncover from what you see on the first few pages. From the slightly awkward Foster, Devon’s cousin, to the crazy talented but unattainable Ezra, they all appeared, in the end, different, changed by the events and by their growing relationships with each other.

As in many other contemporary stories, First and Then is about the characters, they are the ones driving the story forward with their actions, their words, their evolving relationships and they are making things happen to them. This was a story about high school struggles, from what you want to do to who you want to be, but also with a great emphasis on family with the relationship between Devon and Foster, growing and changing, making me smile as they grew closer to each other. It was also a little bit about love, obviously, because there has to be romance in here. It was about appearances and reality, about what you think people are and what they end up being.

First and Then was such a lovely book, driven by realistic characters and adorable relationships. It’s also a whole LOT about football, which is something you should know before heading into this because well…if you hate football, you might get a teensy bit bothered about all the drama surrounding this.

“When you love something, you can’t be happy all the time, can you? Like, that’s why you love it. It makes you feel all kinds of things, not just happy. It can hurt, it can make you fucking mad, but… it makes you feel something, you know?”

My rating : 4 drops!

test rating 4

KEYWORDS: coming-of-age, family, romance, high school, football.

You like coming-of-age stories, high schools settings – and don’t mind a bit of football, obviously – and emphasis on family issues.


Did you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them?

If not, would you be interested in reading them? Let’s chat in comments! 💬

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

33 thoughts on “Mini Reviews : departures, new beginnings and self-discovery

  1. Have you ever read 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson? That’s one of my favourite books about travelling I’ve ever read. It’s about this girl who’s aunt leaves her an adventure instead of money after she dies. Looooved it.

    It’s funny, but when I read First & Then, Devon’s total lack of motivation for anything was what I liked most about her. That feeling of being totally paralysed by the prospect of the future is one I know well, haha. I was pretty disappointed by This Adventure Ends though. I think I loved First & Then too much for it to ever match up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YES! I have read this book a while ago and I LOVED it so much – I think there is actually a sequel of this book?
      OH yes, I remember you being a bit disappointed by This Adventure Ends, that’s too bad, but yes whenever you LOVED a book so much, it’s hard for the next one to match up your expectations 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a sequel! I read it AGES ago. I remember liking it, but I haven’t reread it though I did reread the first one a bunch of times before the sequel came out.

        Yeah, I think maybe This Adventure Ends was probably a good enough book that fell victim to me having crazy high expectations.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhhh, this makes me so happy that you discovered a new book you want to read now! I hope you’ll love it when you get to it 🙂 Thank you so much! 🙂


  2. CONTEMPORARIEEEEEEEEES. 😍 I’ve just now been getting into them and I LOOOVE them! And hmm, 4 POVs but 5 characters? That’s odd. XD And I always love when I start connecting more with the main character, after being annoyed by them.

    Question: In France do you say “GLBT” or “LGBT”? Because you said GLBT twice so I’m not sure if it’s a typo or not… and it would be really cool if you said it differently from Americans! XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YAY, I’m so happy you love contemporaries now…BEWARE, I’ll give you ALL the recommendations ahah 😀 I hope you’ll want to give one of these books a try, May! 🙂
      OH nooo, damn, I did not notice, it’s actually a typo… oops. Thanks for pointing this out ahah 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve read First And Then and while it was ok, I did find it a smidge blander than I would have liked! It wasn’t really memorable for me and while the cover is stunning, it didn’t really stand out for me personally! But glad to hear you enjoyed it Marie and lovely reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anisha! I understand, and if I really enjoyed First & Then, I don’t think it’ll be a book I will fangirl over for many months to come. Still, it was a lovely read 🙂 Thank you! 🙂


  4. These both sound like amazing books Marie, and they’re definitely two contemporaries I’ll be adding to my to-read list when I get a chance. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed that the setting wasn’t used as much as you expected it to be (which would likely be the same for me as well) in Point of Departure but it does sound like the characters were well written which I guess with five POVs is even more important. I’m glad you ended up enjoying First and Then as well, books where you don’t easily connect to the main character can be a bit iffy at times, glad that wasn’t the case with this one.
    Great reviews, for both these books Marie! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth, happy you enjoyed these 🙂 Yes, I was a little disappointed, a big European trip, I think I expected to feel more of the wanderlust feeling while reading this book. Still, it was a fun read 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy it if you ever read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Points of Departure sounds sweet even if the countries and cultures didn’t pop as much as they could have! haha it depends which kind of football- if it’s football as in soccer (yeesh as an English person I object to having to call it that even to explain) then I’m definitely game- if it’s American football it’ll probably make me switch off 😉 Great reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice “short” review, Marie! 😀 Really interesting that they didn’t include that 5th POV in Points of Departure. It’s nice to see how these two stories focus a lot on the characters. I’m glad to see that you enjoyed them both. I personally have never heard about the first book, but I did see First and Then a couple of times in the past. Oh, and that football part was funny. 😛 Totally didn’t expect that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oooh both of these sound so good! ❤ I hadn’t ever heard of Points kf Departure but TRAVEL 😍 It’s too bad the cultures and destinations weren’t fully explored though! First and Then I have on my TBR, I’m glad you liked it as well. The cover is so pretty! Oh my gosh.

    Liked by 1 person

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