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By the Book

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As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself.


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As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself.

30 review for By the Book

  1. 5 out of 5

    ✨ A ✨

    When a cover is this beautiful, you better pray that the contents match. 😍

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mariah

    I'll just be here, trying to manage my expectations between the beautiful cover and the punny tittle. I'll just be here, trying to manage my expectations between the beautiful cover and the punny tittle.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Abbie | epochnovels

    The perfect YA rom-com for Jane Austen nerds. As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly deb The perfect YA rom-com for Jane Austen nerds. As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself. Okay, so this was super cute. I loved Mary's obsession with classics/period dramas. The references and puns had me DYING. I also liked her big family, and the journey in which she learns how to navigate true friendship. It was actually kind of scary how much she reminded me of ME at that age - fifteen, unbearably naive, lonely, and completely unversed in love. (Not much has changed, actually.) However, there were parts where her own naivety made me struggle as a reader. I wished she would have stuck up for herself more. Now...Alex Ritter. He was amazing! I understand the importance of writing a coming-of-age tale that doesn't involve just romance, but family, and friends, etc., However, I needed more moments between Alex and Mary! I felt like if their relationship had been more of the focus I would have fallen head over heels in love with this book. And lastly, I liked how the novel shed light on what true friendship looks like versus toxic ones. That was an element of the story I could very much relate to. Overall, I enjoyed this! Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for sending a copy! By the Book is officially out now! To check out my By the Book inspired Bookstagram post, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAJSgTKAIlr/

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    DNF! at 55% . I just did not like our main female character. She was judgmental and praised for it and the whole book was going nowhere. I felt like there was no plot. I was stuck between being bored and annoyed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ♡ ᴅ ʀ ᴇ ᴀ ᴍ ♡

    The cover attracted me at first but after reading the synopsis and seeing this quote. "If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself." Yeah, bring it on girl. Count me in. Looking forward to reading this!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bree Lauren

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. A personal anecdote for you that, I swear, relates to this book: I work with a lot of ivy league graduates of the scholarly nature and our main character, Mary’s parents are so painfully, triggeringly, pin-point-perfectly depictive of those types of people. I truly wondered if I would make it through this book with all the eye-twitching I had going on any time her parents spoke. Mary’s parents have the uncanny ability to overcomplicate w ARC received in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. A personal anecdote for you that, I swear, relates to this book: I work with a lot of ivy league graduates of the scholarly nature and our main character, Mary’s parents are so painfully, triggeringly, pin-point-perfectly depictive of those types of people. I truly wondered if I would make it through this book with all the eye-twitching I had going on any time her parents spoke. Mary’s parents have the uncanny ability to overcomplicate when communicating and they are in need of constant validation and awe with their usage of SAT words in normal conversation. Honestly, that goes for everyone in Mary’s family. Including our narrator. I tolerated it because her voice makes total sense given her upbringing and obsession with classic novels. The narrator honest-to-goodness threw in the word “erstwhile.” As soon as I read that, my eye started twitching because I have a vivid experience at work in which my boss’s boss tried to come at us with an email communication to the community using that word, and we (in the marketing/communications department) immediately vetoed it. As I hit the 50% mark, I began to find Mary charming, funny, and observant, which made for a great reading experience and I fell more and more in love with her big, quirky family. Yes, even her parents whose arms must hurt from all the self back-patting. I grew up in a big family (3 siblings, lots of cousins) and seeing it depicted in books and movies always warms my heart – especially when done well. It’s why I tear up watching Little Women and why I adored To All the Boys I Loved Before. This was no different. I say the following with both praise and warning: The writing style is very nobody-talks-like-that-but-we-love-to-see-it Dawson’s Creek meets SAT prep with a lot of Gilmore Girls, but with classic literature references instead of pop culture references. There is even a glossary of literature references made at the end of the book. You know how there is a Rory Gilmore reading challenge? I totally could see a Mary Porter-Malcom reading challenge stemming from this book. All that being said, I think this book is very self-aware. I believe (and hope) that it is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, in which case, it is done incredibly well. And now, I shall gush, because it’s what I do best: I loved seeing how Mary’s world clashed with contemporary high school – how she interpreted everyday high school drama and how everyday high schoolers interpreted her. The friend group in this was so, so refreshing. All three girls have such vivid personalities with little focus on looks, which I so appreciated. I seriously WISH I had friends like those in high school. I’m many, MANY years out of high school and I even wanted to hang out with them. And who would I be if I didn’t talk about the romance in this book? YA romances can be pretty predictable, but I’m going to be honest, this one wasn’t nearly as predictable as most YA novels I read. There were SO many sweet, swoony moments. The type of tiny moments that are significant simply because of the build-up. The inclusion of Mary’s diary entries were not extra fluff. They directed the story in significant, but subtle ways. They weren’t boringly long, they were short and sweet, but packed a punch. When I closed this book (figuratively speaking because I read the eARC for this), I felt exactly how I hope to feel every time I open one… a little giddy, a little nostalgic, and a lot satisfied.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dahlia

    This book was *delightful,* and I can’t even imagine how much more I would’ve enjoyed it if I were a fan of the classics. It was so much more friendship-centric than I had anticipated (think Emma Mills - when I saw in the acknowledgments that they have the same agent I was like OF COURSE) and I loved that the MC was from a big family, because you don’t see that so often and it’s such a fun dynamic. It’s so charming, the MC is so so genuinely and lovably bookish, and I love how many references th This book was *delightful,* and I can’t even imagine how much more I would’ve enjoyed it if I were a fan of the classics. It was so much more friendship-centric than I had anticipated (think Emma Mills - when I saw in the acknowledgments that they have the same agent I was like OF COURSE) and I loved that the MC was from a big family, because you don’t see that so often and it’s such a fun dynamic. It’s so charming, the MC is so so genuinely and lovably bookish, and I love how many references there are to classics throughout. (They’re enumerated and explained at the end, too, which I loved.) If you love Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, or friendship-centric romance novels, or especially both, I think you will adore this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christie«SHBBblogger»

    Title: By the Book Series: Standalone Author: Amanda Sellet Release date: May 12, 2020 Cliffhanger: no Genre: young adult I was desperate to read this book the minute I saw it. I'm a sucker for bookish heroines so it seemed like this story had my name written all over it. Undoubtedly, Mary's love for books was her most admirable trait for me. She seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of classic literature characters, which is rare for someone her age. Though it's not beyond the realm of possibilit Title: By the Book Series: Standalone Author: Amanda Sellet Release date: May 12, 2020 Cliffhanger: no Genre: young adult I was desperate to read this book the minute I saw it. I'm a sucker for bookish heroines so it seemed like this story had my name written all over it. Undoubtedly, Mary's love for books was her most admirable trait for me. She seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of classic literature characters, which is rare for someone her age. Though it's not beyond the realm of possibility, considering the fact that both of her parents are professors. She grew up going to a non-traditional school on her parents' campus where she was surrounded by academics. She'd always felt at home there, but her life is about to be turned upside down when her parents inform her that she'll be starting a new school for her sophomore year. At Melville High, she'll only know two people, but at least she has that to cling to. Until she doesn't. She gets "dumped" by her friends-publicly no less. To say she's off to a rocky start is an understatement. Mary sees herself as rather unremarkable, without any talents or interesting qualities that would find her a clique to fit in with. She doesn't let it discourage her, and she isn't too hard on herself for having to figure herself out a little bit. Just because I wasn’t a theatrical impresario or star athlete didn’t mean I had nothing to offer. It was taking me longer to find my niche, that was all. Everything turns around for Mary when she impresses a trio of girls who allow her into their fold. A chance meeting convinces them she would be a valuable new member of their group when she gives them inside information on Alex, whom she labels the most dastardly of roguish rakes. (i.e: a player) Her new calling is found: using her book smarts on classic lit characters and applying what she learned to real people. Unfortunately, people are rarely what they appear on the surface, and placing simple labels on people is doomed for failure. The purpose of the Scoundrel List isn’t to point out the obvious villains: guys who steal your inheritance or lock you in a tower or invite their mistress to move into the guest room. It’s about finding the ones who conceal their treachery behind a smiling façade. That’s the kind of nefariousness you have to watch out for. The book is close to 400 pages, and I think condensing the page count would have been ideal. We see Mary enjoying life in the "popular world" and relishing new experiences. Going to a big party, cruising the mall, and socializing while on the hunt for the perfect dates for the winter formal. More focus was put on this rather than developing the romance arc. During this time, she struggles to maintain the pretense that she's a worldly girl with all of the answers. Her new friends are so impressed with her ability to peg people at a glance, but what would they do if they knew she wasn't always so confident? Who better to help her pick out potential "suitors" for her friends than Alex the serial dater? Alex was a pretty sweet guy, and I realized almost immediately, completely misunderstood. He wasn't the bad boy looking to score every girl in sight, and had a habit of showing up in places where Mary was going to be. Anyone with the smallest amount of experience with the opposite sex would see that he was trying to flirt with her, but fifteen-year-old Mary has zero street smarts. As the book dragged on, I kept waiting for the realization to hit her, and see some sort of internal dialogue as she sorts it all out. We get nearly three quarters into the book before there's any hint of romance between them. (view spoiler)[Mary was so clueless that she believed Alex had a girlfriend for the majority of the book. This girl was actually his sister, which she could have easily learned had she spent any time getting to know him. (hide spoiler)] I feel like there was a wasted opportunity here. I was honestly anticipating some sort of inner struggle as she fought her feelings for the person she warned her friends away from. She would realize her growing feelings and be backed into a corner, unable to show him how she feels. He continued to flirt, it continued to fly right over her head up until the point we went for it and kissed her. Which totally shocked and confused her. Then she screws up big time, both with Alex and her friends. Finally we get some introspection going on at this point, but the resolution on both fronts was pretty rushed and easy in my opinion. This is a light coming of age story that doesn't fall on the high end of the YA spectrum, as it explores pretty simple themes. By the Book wasn't without charm, however it did fall short of an exhilarating teen romance. I enjoyed Mary's large and opinionated family, most especially her siblings who were well drawn and distinctive from each other. The heroine's group of friends were sweet, and not at all the cliche mean girl popular group which was refreshing. I just never quite reached the excitement for Alex and Mary I was hoping for. However, if you're a huge classic literature buff, there's quite a lot to enjoy and this could very well be the perfect book for you. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    a novel of PROSE and cons.... | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | Reddit | LinkedIn | YouTube | a novel of PROSE and cons.... | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | Reddit | LinkedIn | YouTube |

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helen Power

    This was such a cute book! I had a hard time with the language at first, and I almost DNFed after the first chapter. Mary only reads classic literature and the way she talks and thinks reflects this. But as I got used to this style, it really added to the humour and made Mary into a likable and unique character. How many teenagers think and talk like a turn-of-the-century heroine? The plot of this story is freaking adorable, and I loved the friends she made--particularly the sweet, quiet, and be This was such a cute book! I had a hard time with the language at first, and I almost DNFed after the first chapter. Mary only reads classic literature and the way she talks and thinks reflects this. But as I got used to this style, it really added to the humour and made Mary into a likable and unique character. How many teenagers think and talk like a turn-of-the-century heroine? The plot of this story is freaking adorable, and I loved the friends she made--particularly the sweet, quiet, and beautiful Terry who is obsessed with true crime. The book isn't just about the romance--it's about Mary finding friends who appreciate her for who she is <3 Definitely recommend this book to bookaholics (particularly those who love the classics) looking for a sweet YA book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    This was very cute and also very unique. My only complaint is that it started feeling a bit long and repetitive toward the middle. Overall, though, a solid debut, and one I think a lot of book lovers will enjoy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cass™

    5 out of 5 For me, most YA contemporary romance books are either just okay or end up being a huge miss; most of the time I don’t bother to read any unless the premise piques my interests quite a bit. By the Book definitely caught my interest the moment I read the synopsis. It appeared to be a fun read but I wasn’t expecting it to be absolutely hilarious and heartwarming. The most pleasant surprise is how much focus is put on the female friendships. I went in thinking I was only getting a cute roma 5 out of 5 For me, most YA contemporary romance books are either just okay or end up being a huge miss; most of the time I don’t bother to read any unless the premise piques my interests quite a bit. By the Book definitely caught my interest the moment I read the synopsis. It appeared to be a fun read but I wasn’t expecting it to be absolutely hilarious and heartwarming. The most pleasant surprise is how much focus is put on the female friendships. I went in thinking I was only getting a cute romance, but the friendships between Mary and her friends is the heart of the story. It was such a realistic portrayal of a healthy friendship between girls. It did have its ups and downs but it was never overdramatized nor did it lead to girl-on-girl hate. We are shown that real friends will never ask you to change your authentic self, rather they will aid you in your personal growth. This is such an important message to give to YA readers, especially girls. The romance did take a back sit but the scenes we get were wonderful! Mary has an eccentric flare to her and Alex, the love interest, never questions or belittles her for it. They were both quite comfortable with each other that made the budding romance organic. The banter between the two was hilarious! They had me laughing out loud throughout the book. Actually the whole book did! This author’s style of humor is right up my alley; it was subtle and not in your face. Mary is such a quirky, funny narrator that any bibliophile will be able to relate to. Just such an amazing debut! Can’t wait to see what Amanda Sellet releases next! I am definitely recommending this book to younger and older readers alike. It was delightful and heartwarming in every way. This book is probably my biggest surprise of 2020 by far.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    DNF @ 5%. I try to go 25% before I give up on a book, but I couldn't even make it through two chapters of this book. It was just trying way too hard. The main character was insufferable. I will say I'm also a lot older than the target audience for this book, so a younger, quirkier crowd may enjoy this much more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view. I knew I would enjoy this book as soon as I heard about it last year, but my god, I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. I couldn't put it down as soon as I had started, and it's my favourite book of 2020 so far this year! Mary is in love with books, but especially classics. She is definitely of the What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? camp, and uses what she has learnt in her reading to help I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view. I knew I would enjoy this book as soon as I heard about it last year, but my god, I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. I couldn't put it down as soon as I had started, and it's my favourite book of 2020 so far this year! Mary is in love with books, but especially classics. She is definitely of the What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? camp, and uses what she has learnt in her reading to help guide her future, especially when it comes to love. Mary has been coddled slightly in her upbringing, being the daughter of two professors, and been in a sort of university-come-school education programme that has now been cancelled. At 15, she has to go to public school, and that's when she starts to make friends, especially with Arden, Terry, and Lydia, and uses what she knows of Alex Ritter, who everyone at school loves, and she thinks he's a Whickham like character, to help guide the girls use the books. As they grow closer, Mary loses some of her naivete, and might just learn that Alex isn't as bad as she initially thought he was. This book was so friendship based. We start of with Mary knowing only Anjuli, a girl who went to the same school programme as she had, who basically drops her as soon as they start at school, and treat her horrendously, and then she meets the girls at her favourite bookstore/cafe, and Arden, Terry, and Lydia are like her family. They have such an amazing relationship with each other, and there isn't really any drama, that could've happened. Yeah, some angst appears later in the book, but not because of bitchiness or anything. Mary also has a fantastic hate-to-love relationship with Alex. She knows of Alex because of his appearances in her elder sisters Shakespearean company, and first impressions tell her that he is a player, and thinks himself above everyone else. As they get thrown in more and more situations together, she thinks she may have been mistaken in her first impression (does this remind us of a certain Austen heroine, perhaps?) but her initial vehemence towards him, especially when she was speaking with the girls, makes her worry that she's not doing the right thing. Their chemistry together is fantastic though, and I was rooting for them from the first few encounters together. Their growth and characterisations was unlike what I've seen before, and as this is Amanda's debut, I'm dying to see what she releases next - it'll definitely be on my wishlist!

  15. 4 out of 5

    dani

    oh my goodness. mary is immensely weird and i was here for it. she is so incredible and smart. her passion for books was a representation of myself *cough* as mary opened herself throughout the story, meeting new people and making amazing friends was the source of my happiness for today. the romance was predictable but alex was adorable, the few pages he was in, he OWNED them. a books about books and first experiences??? easily a 4 out of 5

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay (pawsomereads)

    By the Book is one of my favorite kind of books; a book about books! (How many times will I say book in this review? Stay tuned to find out!) In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a book about books. I love reading about other readers like me who share the same passion and feelings towards books! Mary, the main character, is definitely a kindred spirit in that regard. Her love for books is so relatable, from being annoyed by interruptions in the middle of a crucial scene to staying in bed t By the Book is one of my favorite kind of books; a book about books! (How many times will I say book in this review? Stay tuned to find out!) In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a book about books. I love reading about other readers like me who share the same passion and feelings towards books! Mary, the main character, is definitely a kindred spirit in that regard. Her love for books is so relatable, from being annoyed by interruptions in the middle of a crucial scene to staying in bed to read all day and only getting up for food. There are so many classic book references in this story that any read is sure to enjoy! When I first read the description of this book, I was expecting a romance-heavy book but what I actually read went so far beyond that. The romance itself is really cute, it’s definitely predictable but I still enjoyed it. While this book centers around romantic relationships and trying to find a good respectable guy, it’s also so much of a friendship and family story which I wasn’t expecting. Mary really finds herself when she falls into a group of friends who accept her for who she is. They welcome her so openly to her new school and they represent a truly wholesome and supportive girl group. I discovered in the acknowledgements that the author grew up in a big family and this completely makes sense as she writes family dynamics so well. Mary has three sisters and a brother and it’s so interesting to see how they all interact with one another and the way family roles impact each character. By the Book is a tribute to readers and finding comfort in books. This was a really cute and fun read that reminded me of what exactly I love about books so much.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    3.5 Stars So this book was really cute but it read a lot younger than I had initially expected. I for some reason thought it was end of high school so I had to adjust when I found out the MC is a sophomore. This story follows Mary as she transitions to a new school and realizes her only friend wants nothing to do with her. Without meaning to, Mary injects herself into a conversation that ultimately leads to friendship with three other girls. To them, Mary is a wealth of knowledge. Having read eve 3.5 Stars So this book was really cute but it read a lot younger than I had initially expected. I for some reason thought it was end of high school so I had to adjust when I found out the MC is a sophomore. This story follows Mary as she transitions to a new school and realizes her only friend wants nothing to do with her. Without meaning to, Mary injects herself into a conversation that ultimately leads to friendship with three other girls. To them, Mary is a wealth of knowledge. Having read every single classic romance, Mary can spot a scoundrel miles away and now her new friends want her insight. The problem is, as Mary becomes more involved in her new life, she starts to wonder just how right her books are. Mary was very relatable and easy to read. She comes from a huge family and is used to be overlooked. When he new friends constantly put her in the spotlight, she's unsure how to act but knows that she doesn't want to mess up. And then of course, she falls for the 'scoundrel'. It was very much a coming of age story, very finding yourself and I enjoyed it. I wish some of her friends were a little more fleshed out. To me, they seemed very one note. Such as one loved true crime and every sentence she uttered was about killers. It just seemed very stunted. Very cute debut that I think will do well among all ages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Merie Shen

    YA contemporary romances... not my thing. But what can I say, I was in the mood and this was the only one on my needs-to-be-tackled TBR, and of course it helps that both the premise and the cover are absolutely charming. The first issue I feared when diving into this book is content. Predictable, I know, but looking at a lot of the mainstream/secular contemporary books out there, I think I have a point. At any rate, I am so so happy that By the Book was freeeee of all the unnecessary icky stuff! S YA contemporary romances... not my thing. But what can I say, I was in the mood and this was the only one on my needs-to-be-tackled TBR, and of course it helps that both the premise and the cover are absolutely charming. The first issue I feared when diving into this book is content. Predictable, I know, but looking at a lot of the mainstream/secular contemporary books out there, I think I have a point. At any rate, I am so so happy that By the Book was freeeee of all the unnecessary icky stuff! Second fear: I was worried Mary would have one of those "utter transformation" good girl to bad girl character arcs. Shouldn't have worried. This girl was not only an extremely likable, very relatable protagonist, but she aCTUALLY HAD AN ARC (that wasn't nonexistent, redemption, or good-to-bad!). And she still retained so much of her blithe, bookish personality all the way to the end. Plus, she was a bookish character whose bookishness WASN'T annoying to death and that is one amazing accomplishment (we all love relatable heroines, but a good bookish one is darn hard to find). Third issue: I can count on one hand the number of books I've read containing romance that I actually, y'know, cared about. Usually I get tired of the love interest(s) around 15 minutes after they're introduced, unless it's an actual romance, and then I'm patient enough to last until during or after the "confessions" stage (by which I mean they confess to either each other, someone else, or themselves; or when another character very kindly points it out). In this book not only was I cheering for the two of them whom I equally adored, but I remained cheering for them all the way to the end-- that's right, folks, even through the confessions, the kissing, and the Dark Night of the Soul!! Writing this review now, I'm once again wowed. Also, let's give it up for the Porter-Malcolms, aka A Real Live Heathy Supportive Family in a YA Novel, Can You Believe It!! I love each of their distinct personalities, the family dynamics, and their individual relationships with Mary (not gonna lie, I'm pretty sure Jasper is my favorite character in this whole book, lol). Plus, Mary's friends and Alex were all so fun to read about! Yes, I did love Mary and Alex's banter-full scenes together, and how their relationship had very little to do with physical attraction. Take that, World of YA. The plot of the story was great. Mary and her friends' Scoundrel Survival Guide definitely made for some interesting events... but let's not spoil anything! There were some... minor dislikes. Content: One or two uses of d**n; G*d is used with 'thank' (only once I believe?); the MC makes a lot of comparisons with some of the less... proper examples of fictional scandals; some pretty detailed kissing scenes, but nothing inappropriate; some light innuendo. There's LGBTQ+ rep: the MC's sister is lesbian; a minor character is said to be gay; at some point the MC wonders if one of her female friends likes her sister; it's mentioned that a guy has the habit of "watching" his ex-boyfriend on dates (the stalking part is condemned. don't worry). All in al, this book left me feeling very happy. I'll definitely be watching for this author's next releases, and now I want to read more contemporary! Always be a happy camper!

  19. 5 out of 5

    aarya

    I adored this. It’s not perfect and I can recite a bunch of flaws, but I adored this. I was beaming the entire time. As far as YA goes, the content level is on the younger end (more Ally Carter/Meg Cabot than Sarah Dessen). I would definitely recommend it to a middle schooler, maybe even a fifth grader if they’re interested in reading about high schoolers (I’m such a hypocrite! I was reading Twilight in the fifth grade! This is nothing like that, lol). Even though I think it’s appropriate for yo I adored this. It’s not perfect and I can recite a bunch of flaws, but I adored this. I was beaming the entire time. As far as YA goes, the content level is on the younger end (more Ally Carter/Meg Cabot than Sarah Dessen). I would definitely recommend it to a middle schooler, maybe even a fifth grader if they’re interested in reading about high schoolers (I’m such a hypocrite! I was reading Twilight in the fifth grade! This is nothing like that, lol). Even though I think it’s appropriate for younger readers, there’s also enormous crossover appeal for adults (or at least people with an understanding of classical Western lit). Younger teens may not understand the references even if they work out-of-context. A+ illustrated cover, funny but not over-the-top Western literary references, swoony non-central romantic element, warm/welcoming family, queer side relationship, and adorable diary entries at the beginning of each chapter. I’d say that the book is more about Mary’s friendships than her relationship, so don’t expect the hero to be on every page. Is the high school social strata stuff a bit stereotypical? Yes. Did I mind? No. Did I predict every plot point/deception before the big reveal? Yes. Did I mind? No. It’s so cute. It’s low stakes and charming and fun. Even the “dark moment” wasn’t that dark. Mary is melodramatic and ridiculous and sweet, and I loved her. “Confession: I never reread the depressing parts of books. The first time I’ll make myself slog through the wretched childhoods and tragic mishaps, but once I know about the floods and bankruptcy and scarlet fever, I skip straight to the first signs of hope, like when the orphan gets a bit of bread, or the hero and heroine exchange meaningful glances. I wish there was a way to do that in real life. Flip a few pages and boom! Everything’s better.” You’re not the only one, Mary. That’s all I want, too. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    ⠀annie⠀✧*ೃ༄

    ⠀⠀✧ • ° . ◦ *⠀┊ three stars. ⠀this was good... but also not good. the reading journey wasn’t awful, but i never wanted to pick this up. unless i was already reading this, i just did not want to read it. ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀and here’s why. . . ⠀⠀⠀⠀❥ ┊ the best way i can describe the plot and events within this novel is: a middle grade maturity rating with high school problems. the actual events were high school-esc, a little childish, but still appropriate for the topic. however, the way the characters acted ⠀⠀✧ • ° . ◦ *⠀┊ three stars. ⠀this was good... but also not good. the reading journey wasn’t awful, but i never wanted to pick this up. unless i was already reading this, i just did not want to read it. ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀and here’s why. . . ⠀⠀⠀⠀❥ ┊ the best way i can describe the plot and events within this novel is: a middle grade maturity rating with high school problems. the actual events were high school-esc, a little childish, but still appropriate for the topic. however, the way the characters acted reminded me of many of my middle school adventures and not in a good way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀❥ ┊ most of the characters were decent, the rest weren’t great. i enjoyed all of mary’s, the main character, siblings. they had a little bit of personality. mary’s friends, though? i can’t tell them apart. i genuinely know the basics of each character and that’s it. their personalities were extremely similar and bland. as stated in the previous point, the main characters are 15-16 years old yet they acted as if they were 12-13. i found it hard to care about the non-family members. ⠀⠀⠀⠀❥ ┊ the ending was wrapped up like an oddly shaped christmas present. the entire novel, including at least five problems, concluded in less than fifty pages. not good. it was a satisfying ending to each of the problems, it was just extremely rushed. since the , i felt like i got whiplash at the end. if at least two of these issues were discussed in the middle of the book, it would’ve have balanced everything out a lot more. ⠀⠀⠀⠀❥ ┊ i LOVED the concept of this. a girl who has extensive knowledge of classics because she loves to read is something i can kind of relate too. however, it was her one and only personality trait. as a twenty year old who isn’t that big of a fan of non-russian classics, i felt disconnected. if i understood more of the classic references, i would’ve enjoyed this a lot more. this is more of a “me issue” instead of an issue with the book itself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀❥ ┊going off the previous point, the use of classics allow for the author to use far too many “big words”. it was quirky, it was cute.... after the first 15. after that, i got annoyed. it seemed more like a flex than anything else. final note: i did not know anything about this going in. i’m not mad i read it, but i don’t think this will stick with me very long. i don’t think i was “ready” to read a contemporary when i picked this up. the story really wasn’t bad... it was just a lot of minor annoyances that finally got to me. i think i will eventually unhaul this, but for now, i think the cover is cute enough to justify it taking up shelf space. ↠ once upon a book hardback ↠ 06.09.20 — 06.23.20 ↠ annotated? no ↠ readathon? no

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    I was so looking forward to By the Book because I needed a light-hearted read to offset all the heaviness of the world, but this was so poorly written that I struggled to get through it. You'd think that a YA book about a book nerd who begins categorizing boys according to literary tropes would be right up my alley. However, almost all of the interesting action in this book takes place off the page, with characters discussing it after the fact or the narrator dropping references to it after the I was so looking forward to By the Book because I needed a light-hearted read to offset all the heaviness of the world, but this was so poorly written that I struggled to get through it. You'd think that a YA book about a book nerd who begins categorizing boys according to literary tropes would be right up my alley. However, almost all of the interesting action in this book takes place off the page, with characters discussing it after the fact or the narrator dropping references to it after the fact. You don't see Mary or her friends actually developing the Scoundrel Survival Guide, save for a few very brief scenes. And the character development is so thin that nothing they did do on the page made any sense to me. There was no reason to root for the main love story at all. What a disappointment.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    It wasn't easy being the introvert of the family, but Mary was happy to live her life within the pages of her favorite 19th-century books. However, when she is forced to switch schools, she finds herself shunned by her former friend. She is lucky enough to find a trio of young women, who appreciate Mary's bookish leanings, but will she be able to fully navigate high school, her new friendships, and a maybe romance by the book? In a word, this book was DELIGHTFUL! It put a smile on my face from th It wasn't easy being the introvert of the family, but Mary was happy to live her life within the pages of her favorite 19th-century books. However, when she is forced to switch schools, she finds herself shunned by her former friend. She is lucky enough to find a trio of young women, who appreciate Mary's bookish leanings, but will she be able to fully navigate high school, her new friendships, and a maybe romance by the book? In a word, this book was DELIGHTFUL! It put a smile on my face from the very first page, which never faded. Mary captured my heart from our very first meeting. I can totally relate to being undone by any life change, big or small, but having to start over in a new school sophomore year is far from easy. To make it worse, her frienemy from her previous school decides to "unburden" herself, and cuts Mary loose. So, obviously my heart broke for her, but I was also proud of the way she dusted herself off, and took a chance by talking to Terry, Lydia, and Arden. This trio became such an important part of Mary's being, and I simply adored the friendship they shared. Arden was probably my favorite of the friends. She was personality plus, and I loved the enthusiasm she had for just about everything. The fact that she planned a "season" for Mary, for her high school coming out, endeared her even more to me, and I had a great time attending each "event" with this bunch. I also loved Mary's family. She had this big, bookish family, which was chaotic and wonderful! Sellet did such a incredible job pulling us into the Porter-Malcolm home. I had such a fantastic time getting to know all Mary's siblings, and getting to see the dynamic in her family. Mary often pointed out how money was tight, but let me tell you, there was no shortage of love or attention. They sat down at dinner together almost every night, and actually talked to one another. They supported each others passions as well, by attending matches and plays. I also had a stupendous time at quiz night with the Get Lit team. By the end of the book, I was so enamored with them, that I was ready to claim my spot in the Porter-Malcolm family. Alongside all the family fun and friendship antics was a charming romance. I guess you would call it hate-to-love, and it was precious. The banter between Mary and Alex was delectable, and I could not get enough of them. I was pleased that there was a lot more to Alex than met the eye, and was glad Mary was able to see it too. This book kept me in a constant state of elation! The strong focus on family and friendship coupled with an absolutely adorable romance will always win me over. And, although I am not a big 19-century lit reader, I thought the references were so fun. I mean, WWJAD - What Would Jane Austen Do? FANTASTIC! For me, there were no flaws in this book. The story was fun and sweet, and it filled me up with so much mirth. This was a lovely and enchanting read, and I hope Sellet has a LOT more stories like this coming our way. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  23. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    This new YA release reminded me of a scavenger hunt. As Mary painstakingly picks her way through her first year in a public high school, she smugly assumes she can avoid the pitfalls that she has read about in books. Surely she will not fall into the traps that lead to misery. While giving advice to some girls she runs into after school, she finds herself cast as the fixer/literary expert. They begin to rely on her and that makes it even more difficult for Mary to realize when she might be on th This new YA release reminded me of a scavenger hunt. As Mary painstakingly picks her way through her first year in a public high school, she smugly assumes she can avoid the pitfalls that she has read about in books. Surely she will not fall into the traps that lead to misery. While giving advice to some girls she runs into after school, she finds herself cast as the fixer/literary expert. They begin to rely on her and that makes it even more difficult for Mary to realize when she might be on the wrong track. She is oblivious to her "Emma" tendencies. What I appreciated about most about this book was the reminder than when you are IRL, you will make mistakes. Feeling remorse and making things right is how we grow ourselves and our relationships. The book is filled with endearing characters and moments when you want to reach into the book and give Mary advice. I especially loved the Appendix with the "answers" to all the veiled book references throughout. I had guessed some, but not all and perhaps I will to add some of the ones I did not recognize to my TBR list. Thank you to Houghton Mifflin and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Evy

    "A NOVEL OF PROSE AND CONS" This is cozy mystery levels of delightful pun.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    I really really really enjoyed this, all of it. I’m a sucker for a big family dynamic, and the heavy influence of friendship in this story was wonderful! I adored the way Sellet gave a diverse cast of characters with each of their own personalities and lessons. And the love interest was definitely someone I could get behind! I loved reading from Mary’s perspective and learning a ton about classic literature and the many tropes reflected back into this modern tale of firsts- loves, friendships an I really really really enjoyed this, all of it. I’m a sucker for a big family dynamic, and the heavy influence of friendship in this story was wonderful! I adored the way Sellet gave a diverse cast of characters with each of their own personalities and lessons. And the love interest was definitely someone I could get behind! I loved reading from Mary’s perspective and learning a ton about classic literature and the many tropes reflected back into this modern tale of firsts- loves, friendships and family activities. Can’t wait to read more by this author in the future!

  26. 5 out of 5

    han

    3.5 wish it was more romance-focused,,, so there would be more development w mary & alex,,,, but anyway this was pretty cute,,, 3.5 wish it was more romance-focused,,, so there would be more development w mary & alex,,,, but anyway this was pretty cute,,,

  27. 5 out of 5

    tai

    Call me out for “judging a book by its cover” but ever since the cover for this book was revealed, I have been dying to read it. Of course, the synopsis made me even more intrigued in picking it up. And the ARC gods were nice to me and granted me an early copy of this book. I’ll start off by saying that this cover gives off a vibe that this book will be heavily a romance. And yeah, it is a romance. There is a main couple as well as a few side couples as well. But as I finished this book I realize Call me out for “judging a book by its cover” but ever since the cover for this book was revealed, I have been dying to read it. Of course, the synopsis made me even more intrigued in picking it up. And the ARC gods were nice to me and granted me an early copy of this book. I’ll start off by saying that this cover gives off a vibe that this book will be heavily a romance. And yeah, it is a romance. There is a main couple as well as a few side couples as well. But as I finished this book I realized something: yeah, romance is what carries the plot in many ways. But it’s not the main topic of this book at all. This book is about friendship. And funnily enough, it was one of my favorite things about it. I never am shy about my love for strong female friendships, and I gotta day I just loved the friendship between the 4 girls in this book so much. I felt like their personalities complemented each other so well, and they made for such a fun little group. Their interactions were one of my favorite things. I do want to say I loved the romance between Mary and Alex, and I kind of wish we could’ve gotten more scenes between them and a little more build up. They had so much chemistry, and their scenes were adorable. I think this falls into the “these characters are a little bit too young for my taste” category in YA contemporary though, and because of that I had a hard time connecting to the main character and the side characters, even though I felt like it was still a very cute book! Mary reminded me a bit of Lucie Herondale from Chain of Gold, with her love of books and the way she talks sometimes, and I enjoyed that about her. Overall, I feel like this was a cute book that was sweet and fluffy, but not something that will stay with me in the long run. If you’re looking for a fast paced and cute book with a great friendship between a few girls, I recommend! *i received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

  28. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Wildenstein

    Oh my gosh, this book was soooo CUTE! Mary, a sweet and completely clueless bookaholic, meets Alex, a sort of Casanova with the best repartee and a bad case of myopia. Their love story was light with the perfect amount of fluffy. The references to classic books were on point and woven in so well that it never weighed down the story. Besides the romance, which was perfect, what I adored was Mary’s friendships. I remember how hard it was navigating the halls of a school alone and then winged by inc Oh my gosh, this book was soooo CUTE! Mary, a sweet and completely clueless bookaholic, meets Alex, a sort of Casanova with the best repartee and a bad case of myopia. Their love story was light with the perfect amount of fluffy. The references to classic books were on point and woven in so well that it never weighed down the story. Besides the romance, which was perfect, what I adored was Mary’s friendships. I remember how hard it was navigating the halls of a school alone and then winged by incredible women.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maha

    i received an ARC of this book through edelweiss in exchange of an honest review. this doesn’t affect my opinion in any way. By the Book took me by surprise and reminded me of my love for books. it is a beautiful story of teenage struggles, love of literature, with a sprinkle of romance. we follow mary as she enters a new high schools and forms a friendship with three other friends. the four of them are inspired by the literary classics that mary reads so they could make a scroundrel survival i received an ARC of this book through edelweiss in exchange of an honest review. this doesn’t affect my opinion in any way. By the Book took me by surprise and reminded me of my love for books. it is a beautiful story of teenage struggles, love of literature, with a sprinkle of romance. we follow mary as she enters a new high schools and forms a friendship with three other friends. the four of them are inspired by the literary classics that mary reads so they could make a scroundrel survival guide, and help marry have the high school experience. i found this book to be so cute and sweet, flawed but very enjoyable. the writing definitely made it feel like i was reading a classic, which, i guess, was the goal of the author. i was easily swooped into the story and its characters, though some were definitely flat. however, it does feel important to say that there are a lot of references to classic literature in this novel, so if you have no knowledge in that genre, i don’t know if you’ll enjoy it as much as i did. it was a lot of fun spotting all the references as i was reading. i also enjoyed seeing the main character as she embarks into the journey of kindling frienships, and finding herself. because this story is more about the friendship that the romance, which was more in the background. but even though the synopsis was misleading for me, i still enjoyed seeing mary grow affectionate towards her new friends very much. it was just so cute. in conclusion, this book was sweet, cute and a lot of fun. i definitely needed that right now, and i highly recommend By the Book for some laughs and a good time.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    While I did enjoy this, it honestly felt like it should’ve been published at least 4 years ago. As far as YA tone and themes go, it felt just a little outdated.

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