Blog Tour Review: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

Hello, friends! I’m back with my first blog tour of 2023 hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours and I’m so incredibly excited that it’s for a title that I absolutely adored: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert.

Thanks to Joy Revolution for providing a digital ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the fantastic bloggers on tour!

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute
Publisher: Joy Revolution
Publication Date: 3 January 2023
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rep: Black, OCD, Fat

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Brown Sisters trilogy, comes a laugh-out-loud story about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors–and each other.

Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He’s a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes… except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.

Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption–yet, she’s still not cool enough for the popular kids’ table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that’s how Celine sees it.)

These days, there’s nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she’s surprised to find Brad right beside her.

Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed… or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Anxiety, struggling with OCD, childhood abandonment, estranged parents

📚 BUY A COPY!

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

TL;DR: Honestly, what can I say about this other than I loved it? What a fantastic way to kick off my reading in 2023 with my first 5-star read of the year! This book has reminded me why I love Talia Hibbert so much. Although she usually writes adult romance, you wouldn’t know this is her YA debut because it was so well written and was essentially classic Hibbert. From the cheekiness, the A+ banter, the wonderfully weird and quirky, flawed yet realistic characters, the heart-swoopingly sweet romance, and the casual queerness and beautiful representation. Reading her stories always feels like a warm hug and they never fail to make me laugh and smile! If you’re looking for a cheekily cute YA romance to kick off your 2023 reading, look no further than Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute. I mean, couldn’t you tell from that name alone that this was gonna be a winner?!

This is a story about two once-upon-a-time best friends who drifted apart, as people are wont to do, but who still existed in each other’s orbit thanks to their mums being besties too. There is so much emotional history between them and my heart hurt and soared in turn as we watch them navigate their renewed friendship after all these years apart. There wasn’t one moment in this when I wasn’t violently rooting for Bradley and Celine to find happiness within themselves and together. I really enjoy the way Hibbert writes her characters and I loved both of them so much! They’re quirky, hilariously cheeky, charming and caring in their own ways, but they were also complex and realistically flawed. I mean, they’re teenagers and they sometimes do silly things and make stupid mistakes but not to the point where you have to question how they possibly made it so far in life. 😂

She wants my help. “What’ll you give me in return?”
“Here.” She opens her hand and blows softly across her palm. I feel her breath against my cheek.
The hollow in my stomach sort of… hops, like a little kid on a playground. Am I breathing loud? Or is it just the trapped air in this tent? “What… what was that?” I ask. My tongue feels heavy.
She smiles, so sweetly. “Those were all the fucks I Had to give, Bradley.” Then she shows me her middle finger and goes to crawl out of the tent.
I’m laughing so hard, I can barely speak.

Celine is a TikTokker who became famous for her obsession with conspiracy theories. She’s smart and scarily ambitious but she’s also kind of shy and can be petty. She also doesn’t really enjoy people in general but she also loves her people with her own special brand of slightly-mean-and-sarcastic love. You know she’s got a soft heart under all that eye-rolling sarcastic exterior. What I liked about Celine is that even though she’s stubborn as hell and thrives on being right, which she admittedly is most of the time, she also knows when to admit her faults, even if it’s with a heaping side of reluctance and her usual sarcasm. Basically, Celine is the moody grump to Bradley’s golden retriever energy sunshine personality, and you know how I love that grumpy/sunshine dynamic!

“I catch myself smiling and realize that I find her suspicious nature dreamy and adorable. This crush is a sickness. A sickness, I tell you!”

Bradley is the handsome footy player and golden boy that can easily charm even the grouchiest of people—aka Celine. He also has OCD, which most people don’t know about and which he does his best to manage alongside his anxiety as unobtrusively as possible. I have always enjoyed the representation in Hibbert’s books and how sensitively she addresses the issues, and this was no different. On top of that, I also really enjoyed the way these characters were simply figuring things out and yes, they sometimes made silly decisions but it was also very relatable because seriously, who hasn’t done that, especially as a teenager thinking they’re “doing the right thing” by not telling a parent something. This brings me to another point I really liked and it’s how the families of both characters were positively present in their lives and played big roles when it came to the major decisions and realisations they faced. It was refreshing because, as most people know, parental figures tend to be mostly absent and/or terrible in YA stories.

I tut and perch neatly on the corner of the mattress.
Brad grins. “You’re so nice.”
“What?” I am horrified. No one has ever accused me of this. “
Nice? Do you realize how… utterly bland—”
“Don’t have a cow, Cel.”
“How disgustingly
milquetoast—”
“Nice,” he says over my conniptions. “Nice, nice, nice. Like pie.”
Pie?
He’s confident. “Pie.”

When it came to their romance, I think the most fitting word to describe their dynamic is adorable. They were sickeningly cute and I loved their interactions, especially as they start exploring and acknowledging their feelings for each other. Even when they’re busy hating each other, they still understood each other and in fact, Brad gets Celine in a way that very few people do and vice versa. I loved their comfort with each other and the way they could just be goofy together. Honestly, they were just too cute to handle and I loved their friendship just as much as I loved their romance!

“Brad bites his lip. I really wish he’d stop doing that; it’s deeply inconsiderate to me, a person who can see him and is tragically vulnerable to the sight of an excellent mouth.”

“My mind is a dramatic and often inaccurate place.”

Overall, it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed this book and I honestly wish that something had existed for a younger me because I know I would’ve loved it just as much, if not even more than I do now. This is a fantastic contemporary that not only explores teenage romance but also teenage life in realistic and relatable ways. I really hope that Hibbert writes more YA because I will definitely read them all!

“For God’s sake, I’m supposed to be in tumroil right now. This book is so contangious, the World Health Organization should be notified.”

“I trust myself to deal with any outcome. Because what’s the point of believing in everyone’s else’s vision if I don’t believe in my own?”

Talia Hibbert is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes steamy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands.

Author’s Socials:
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook

Have you read Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute or is it on your TBR?

25 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

    • It is SUPER cute! It was so hard for me to pick quotes because a lot of them were like “you have to read it with the full context!” but it was just SO good. So many cute, funny, bantery moments that had me laughing out loud! I hope you love it 😍

      Liked by 1 person

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