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Pen & Xander

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  23 reviews
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Average rating 4.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  34 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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***Actual rating: 4/5 Living-Colorfully Stars***

No one tells you that when you become the victim of a crime you’re the one responsible for cleaning up the mess.

I believe Pen & Xander is going to be a heartfelt story for some people, particularly those who need to work in another country far away from their hometown just to survive and take care of other family members. It’s not easy for these hardworking people to separate from their beloved ones but sometimes, it’s even harder t
Jennifer Leigh
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Pen & Xander in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Pen & Xander is a cute contemporary book about finding yourself. It has a great representation of depression and the effects it has on a person. The characters are super relatable and I really liked the connection I was able to make with them. Although it did feel like there were too many plotlines and a weird insta-love story, I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed Laekan’s writing, and I would love to r ...more
Oct 30, 2017 marked it as to-read
YA Romance fans! Request an ARC of this one here: [closed - other review opportunities found here] ...more
Cam *tactile seeker*
That's what I've learned about fear. Courage isn't a currency and claiming it isn't a game. The things that scare us aren't roadblocks but mirrors and bravery isn't about shattering our reflection but it's about having the strength to look.

Book soundtrack: Warm Blood – Carly Rae Jepsen

It's been so long, since I last read a YA bordering on NA.
For years, with very few exceptions, I've been avoiding them, because I felt that they'd stopped meaning something to me.
I've changed so much in the l
Salla (Books Told Me So)
Full review:

'' ''What if there's no such thing as being ready? What if the only difference between being ready and not being ready is a decision?'' -- ''A decision I make.'' '' -Pen
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So, Pen and Xander. I got this one from This site is one of my go to sites to get books for free. Giselle the owner of the site has a varied and interesting mix of books up for review. I usually check out her site if I feel like I need to find a hot new book. Pen and Xander is just one of the two that I signed up for. Then last February, the author herself reached out to me and asked me to review and do a post for her book. I don't know how she found me but she sent me a me ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"That, that you're passion." She takes my hand. "And the thing about passion, Pen, is that it chooses you, born the second you are."

I was struck by how much I truly loved this story. Pen and Xander is a contemporary romance but it didn't feel like one. It had all the bells and whistles of one but it didn't feel boring or mundane. I can't really describe the feeling besides that I just really loved the story the author told. The flow and pacing were like that of an adventure story bu
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways-arc
3.5 stars for Pen & Xander

I received this book as an ARC copy from Xpresso Book Tours for an honest review.

Thoughts and Plot

Well since I appear to be second, I should make sure I do this thoroughly... To start, I thought this was a wonderfully written book that really managed to suck me in, to the point I downloaded it onto my phone so I could read it on my lunch break. That says something about a book.

Main Characters:

Pen, is a girl who puts on a tough exterior around others but is really ju
Elena Love
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*I received this book for free, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!*

Pen's father has owned a Mexican restaurant for as long as she can remember and her dream is to take over one day. Apart from serving real Mexican food for the neighborhood, Nacho's is also the place where struggling teens are given a second chance in life and an escape from the dangerous criminal, who forces them into prostitution, drug-dealing and any sort of criminal activity. It's become a
Bona Fide Book Reviews
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not a romance. It is a love story. Pen is eighteen and works in her father’s Mexican restaurant. She loves the work and baking – improving recipes and delicious desserts. She lives for that restaurant, but her parents want her to become a nurse, like her mother. The thought leaves her cold; she doesn’t want a life like her mother’s. Her dream is to open her own bakery. So, she pretends to attend school and lies for several months about her classes and books. One day soon, she will have t ...more
KarenJo Custodio
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
BEAUTIFUL STORY!!! Full review to come.

Pen and Xander by Laekan Zea Kemp is incredibly captivating, well-written, and absolutely so full of heart. It’s a wonderful book that inspires, teaches, and comforts you in the best possible way. I am so in love with this book and everything about it!

I started reading this book January 17 and finished February 9. It took me a while to finish not because I wasn’t engrossed in the story (because I totally was…), but I was going through so much work related s
Carole Rae
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Food, growing up, romance, drama, comedy, and danger all mixed together to make this book! There seems like there would be too much going on, but it all worked well and heck of a ride.

The story follows Pen and Xander who seem to be so different, but they have so much in common in the end. Pen is the daughter of a restaurant owner. She has a hard exterior, but she is a sobbing mess like the rest of us when it comes down to it. Xander is an illegal immigrant who was abandoned by his parents and h
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-health
Told in alternating POVs, this is the story of Pen Prado and Xander Amaro, two Mexican immigrant teens. But this book is so much more about just the two of them. Infusing the love for food, the stoicism of community, a restaurant that means so much more than a place to eat or a business to run for the small town and LIVING through bleakness of both mind and circumstance, Pen and Xander is fresh and pops of its pages. More than the bigger plot involving the druglord, it is the smaller things that ...more
Joanne Sim
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Original review can be found on my blog at this link.

I would like to, firstly, give a huge thank you to the author, Laekan Zea Kemp, for giving me the opportunity to review her novel. I really enjoyed reading Pen & Xander!

I haven’t read a contemporary novel in a long time. I’m really glad I get to read Pen & Xander after my ‘contemporary break’. This novel is one of a kind and it totally got me hooked right from the start. Pen & Xander is a story about two teenagers. Of which, Pen is looking for
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, romance
Received from Author in exchange for honest review

Pen worked her father restaurant, since she was little. It's all she know and dream about. Her parents want her to attend college. She lies about it, pretends she is going but can't make herself go in. Her dream is to have a bakery right next to her father restaurant. All that goes to flames, when she reveals her lies. She gets fired and thrown out of the house. On her own, she need to find a place to live and new job.

Xander came to the country a
Ruth B
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, romance
Pen is supposed to go to college and be the one that makes it, but she wants to cook and follow her father's steps. However, when she decides to be brave and honest and confess her dreams... well things go wrong and she is left with no job and the chance to start over.

And in the other corner, we have Xander, a boy who grew up without his mother or father, who has been hunted by the fear of being deported because is an undocumented. The shadow of his past and his association with 'El Canti' hunts
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: laekan-zea-kemp
Finding a place to belong is part of growing up. Pen thinks she already knows where she belongs; her father's restaurant. She loves tweaking the recipes, putting fear into her co-workers, and being close to her family. Unfortunately Pen has been lying to her parents, and when they find out she is fired and must rethink everything she thought she knew about where she belongs. Meanwhile, Zander is an ex gang member trying to redeem himself. After being abandoned by both his mother and father in Me ...more
Megan | A Page to Turn
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Penelope Prado and Alejandro “Xander” Amaro are the epitome of what I imagine kids today deal with. As a parent of young kids, this book kind of scares me for what my kids will go through as teenagers. Pen & Xander borders on the young adult to new adult line - it's all about growing up, taking responsibility, and deciding what kind of human you are going to be. There is also some romance, which is a bonus!

Pen is the daughter of a man that owns an authentic Mexican restaurant - a restaurant kno
Kat Stephens
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read a review copy of this wonderful and important dual POV novel, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Told in alternating chapters, Pen Prado is a girl who just wants to create kitchen masterpieces and one day take over Nacho's Tacos, her father's restaurant, while Xander Amaro is a Dreamer and ex-gang member who's given a shot at starting over with a job at the restaurant. With Pen's father and Xander's ex-boss standing in their paths to happiness, both Pen and Xander ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"What if the only difference between being ready and not being ready is a decision?"

If you get into Pen & Xander thinking this is just a cute little love story, you're in for a (good) surprise.

Yes, this book contains a great romance, but it's about so much more than that - mental health, fear, dreams, and most of all, home and family.

The characters are amazingly diverse, their relationships are complicated and beautifu
Maura Flood
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

You might think this is a love story, but it's much more than that. You could think this is a story about a Mexican restaurant and the people who work there, but it's much more than that, too. This novel is about family, friends who become close enough to be family, second chances, love and fear and risks, and fighting for your dreams. I give it a 4.5.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So good. I am never disappointed by this author. I loved it all: the characters, the plot, the writing!
Kyla Daniels
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Such a fantastic book. A great story adressing social issues. I loved every minute and page! The most satisfying book i have read in a while.
Rachelle DeNecochea
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