WITH AND WITHOUT YOU by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

#Wibbroka is back with another swoony YA–this time tackling long-distance relationships, in a novel based on their own romantic history.

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be the Couple Most Likely to Marry. They’ve been dating for three solid years, and everyone agrees they’re perfect for each other. But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during possibly the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Before she can say the words, though, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving out of state. Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again. 


Title : With and Without You
Author : mily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 19, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

It’s probably not great that my least favourite read by this duo happens to be the one that is based (loosely, I hope?) on their own romance. Whoops.

But what really hurt this story was the lack of a secondary POV. I truly can’t recall anymore if all their books are like this or if some are dual (I really need to start making GR shelves for this but alas I probably will never do it) but this one needed it. Siena’s narrative was not always fun and while the second voice wouldn’t have improved that it would’ve given us something of a break.

I don’t begrudge this story for existing, particularly for all the YAers who are feeling similar things — not just the conflict inspired by leaving for college and whether the relationship will endure, but the added conflict of that looming issue when already dealing with a long-running relationship that you feel you may have outgrown. There needs to be space for these conversations and these dynamics and these circumstances.

But. That doesn’t mean I had to like this one. Siena spent the majority of the book wondering if she still fit with Patrick and honestly, girl, I wonder the same. He may have been unwilling to be open to new things without realizing the importance of them but she was equally rigid and uncompromising. And while you’d think living in her head would make you more sympathetic to her perspective (hah) oh no, it was worse. The book wasn’t all bad but that first 30% was real rough and I just don’t think it ever recovered.

Having said all that, I am hopeful that I won’t continue to reside in the 2.5-3 range for any more of their books because when they are good, they are great. I would maybe just give this one a pass.

THE ROUGHEST DRAFT by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.


Title : The Roughest Draft
Author : Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : January 25, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Welp, this one is a wee bit of a bummer. Not that three stars is b a d, she says, endlessly into the void that is her own guilt complex. Ahem. But. Yeah, I definitely through this would wow me a lot more than it did.

This is the Wibbroka duo’s first adult romance so, hey, it’s basically like a debut, so I definitely won’t shy away from picking up their next attempt (please tell me there’s a next attempt) and it certainly won’t put me off their YA titles. But the epic spark and chemistry I expected.. well, it fizzled. Right as the couple got together.

These two writers, once darlings, have split after two books together. Four years have passed and with another book still on contract, and some pressure from Katrina’s fiancée (spoiler, I hated him, and you’re supposed to), not to mention how the buzz might inspire more sales for Nathan’s recent solo offering which.. didn’t flop but is not flying off the shelves, they reunite.

Untangling what went wrong, experiencing their tension, the struggle to fake being friends, even as they slowly become friendly again, the whole dynamic was great. But when we find out what sent them in opposite directions — by the way, we get flashbacks through the story — well. I had feelings. And then when these two finally worked it all out and their relationship changed.. I was.. not underwhelmed but. I was whelmed.

I was really into the concept of this, I enjoyed some the post-working-it-out conflict and unresolved angst of it all, and I especially enjoyed watching these two characters’ method for co-authoring (could it be how the authors themselves right? curious!), but between the fiancée, the letdown of the aforementioned reveals and romance, it just kinda went sideways on me. Part of this could be my expectations, I was hyped for this, but the other part I don’t think is me. So. Make of that what you will!

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss+ and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

IF I’M BEING HONEST by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.


Title : If I’m Being Honest
Author : Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : OverDrive (eBook)
Page Count : 370
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 23, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

IF I’M BEING HONEST is something of a love letter to the archetype of the mean girl. The girl who is pretty, blonde, popular and always there with a harsh barb. What these authors do with that character, however, is somewhat different from what we’ve come to expect.

If every glare I earned, or didn’t earn but received nonetheless, bothered me, I’d drown in the judgment.

Cameron is beautiful, blonde, popular.. but she’s not rich. She doesn’t have a string of broken hearts in her past — infact, she’s been very purposefully single for two years. She has plans for her life and she executes them accordingly, each task an item on her list to be crossed off. She’s methodical because it’s something she can control. Because her home life is complicated, fraught with emotional minefields, and her honesty — her drive — is a direct result of the neglect and belittling from her father, and the disdain she has for her mother’s string of failed jobs, failed motivation, failed ability to parent. Cameron feels driven to prove to her successful, and absent, father that she can be worthy of his attention, worthy of his love, that she is unlike her mother who earns only his scorn. She puts in the work because she can see, with her own two eyes, that work gets results.

Which is why she spends a year planning out her perfect relationship. She meets the guy, likes the guy, and waits. She wants to see that he has drive, has ambition. And when she finally makes her move.. it, unfortunately, backfires. And the boy in question no longer wants her, much less likes her, as a result.

I didn’t understand it at first. Wouldn’t a person be a better friend if they told the truth? [..] I’ve always thought of honesty as helpful even if it’s hurtful.

It’s in studying THE TAMING OF THE SHREW that Cameron sees so much of herself in the main character and decides to reinvent herself, to prove herself worthy of being liked, to soften her edges; to self-tame. And so begins her road of apologies, of amends, to reinvent herself.

I would have to be pretty desperate to put my fate in the hands of Cameron Bright, the girl who wrecked my life in the first place.”
Grant, you passed desperate when you were modelling lingerie for the innocent bystanders in a bookstore.”

IF I’M BEING HONEST is a retelling/reimagining of the aforementioned Shakespeare play, as well as Ten Things I Hate About You, and honestly? By about ten percent I wanted to shout my love of this book from the rooftops. It was funny, it was unflinching, it was heartfelt, it was raw. The evolution, not only of Cameron but the relationships — platonic and romantic — was so.. organic? Genuine? Real? Sure, it occasionally journeyed a somewhat expected path as far as plot progression, and emotional speed bumps, but it was the strong writing, and the solid characters, that carried it. That, infact, made it soar.

The ending doesn’t wrap everything in a bow; not every broken or bruised relationship is mended, not everyone is perfect and pleasant. The characters don’t change, they evolve. They don’t just apologize, they forgive.

Nobody’s ever bothered to figure out what would be the exact right thing to say to me. What I need to hear.

This book made me laugh (a lot), tear up (a few times), and even had a few less-than-subtle ‘these characters are from our first book’ cameos shoehorned in at near the end. I didn’t even really mind, even if it felt a little clunky, and I have no problem taking the hint and have, in fact, already put a hold on that first book. But other than that little tease, this is a true standalone, so don’t worry about missing anything.

It’s like there’s this horrible thing eating me from the inside, and the only way to let it out is to fall apart — or to lash out. To leave someone else with hurt and doubt and insecurity just to know they know how it feels.

If you appreciate characters being unfiltered and far from perfect, as well as a story that has plenty of grand gestures, fandom, and real issues that never cross the line into overwrought drama, you should definitely pick this one up. Sure it doesn’t get full marks from me but it’s really close. All the greatness is great and even the stuff I didn’t super love.. it’s still so good. This is a perfect summer-y kind of read, because it’ll make you feel good, but don’t expect too much fluff (not used in a derogatory way). This definitely has substance, and weight, and will be well worth your time.

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