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Never Say Never

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Brynn is done with love.

After she walks in on her mom doing the horizontal mambo with a man that’s decidedly not her dad, Brynn Stark swears to NEVER fall in love. One of her friends--Val-- reveals her true identity--Aphrodite, goddess of love, and promises to show Brynn why she shouldn’t lose faith.

But when Brynn realizes she’s beginning to fall for Adam, Aphrodite's boyfriend, Brynn’s forced to decide if she’ll choose her goddess-given fate, or risk it all for the wrong-but-right guy.

One thing’s for sure.

Love sucks.

And it's all about to blow up in their faces.

Kindle Edition

First published June 15, 2021

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About the author

Justine Manzano

6 books95 followers
Justine Manzano is the geeky author of geeky YA novels The Keys & Guardians series and Never Say Never. Her fiction is tough on the outside and sweet on the inside, like an M&M or a hard candy with a gooey center, delivered with sass and snark. A freelance editor, she also serves as an Editor-in-Residence here at WriteHive. She lives in Bronx, NY with her husband, son, and a cacophony of cats and can usually be found at her website, www.justinemanzano.com or all the usual social media haunts. If you’ve looked in all these places and can’t find her, she’s probably off reading fanfiction. She’ll be back soon.

Sign up for her newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/ebb8bfa2eae4/justi...

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5 stars
27 (22%)
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41 (34%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 91 reviews
Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
454 reviews300 followers
December 10, 2021
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I wanted so badly to love this book. A contemporary romance with Aphrodite getting in there and causing drama? That sounded like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately though, this book was just a mediocre book for me. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t amazing either.

Let’s start off with the good parts about this book: the pacing was really quick and it made for a fast read. I’ve been super picky about book pacing recently, but this one pleased me with how it was bouncy and quirky despite not having too much heavy action. I also really liked Gabe and Adam. They were great characters and while I wasn’t a huge fan of every step of their romantic journey, I did enjoy how they seemed genuinely wholesome and wonderful.

That being said, this book was messy. It was cheesy and predictable, but the cheating made this book difficult to enjoy. It seemed like everyone was cheating on everyone. Sure, some of them didn’t act on it until they were done with their relationships, but it was a massive web of “this guy is dating this girl but he’s in love with someone else,” “this girl’s boyfriend clearly has feelings for someone else,” etc. I knew there would be some cheating in this book based off of the book’s synopsis, but there was just too much of it in this book and a lot of the stuff involving the cheating seemed like petty drama.

I started to connect with the book and enjoy it more around the climax of the story, but the ending dragged on and was so cheesy that I was rolling my eyes at every sentence.

There’s also some questionable age gaps in this book. Technically they weren’t explicitly illegal, but college students dating high school seniors… It gives me massive grooming vibes and I’m not here for it.

At the end of the day, it feels like this book just wasn’t for me. I didn’t completely hate it, but I know that other people would’ve enjoyed this one more than me and I hope this book finds an audience of people who love it more than I do.
Profile Image for Jin.
601 reviews113 followers
April 30, 2021
The book is about a teenage girl who is in doubt of love and suddenly meets Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who will change her view of life and love. I did like the premises and had great expectations because I love Greek mythology in general. And I was curious to see how it would mix with a teenager love story.

I liked the storytelling in general and the start of the whole setup with a relatable girl and her not-so-great parents. The beginning was kind of charming and I smiled here and there even thought there was the occasional frowning due to her parents. But I felt like the story couldn't really keep the tension. I wished there would have been more depth (more drama or more humour, it doesn't matter) towards the middle/end because the story dabbled its way up to the end without any real climax. I also wished that they would have played more with the Greek mythology part but maybe that's just me.

**I received a free copy of this book via BookSirens for leaving an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.**
Profile Image for nαомι αndιno.
175 reviews54 followers
May 26, 2021
Brynn Stark doesn’t want to know anything about love after finding her mom cheating on her dad….but it turns out that one of her best friends is Aphrodite undercover who will stop at nothing to find the perfect match for Brynn. As the story progresses, Brynn finds herself falling for Adam - Aphrodite’s boyfriend.

I’m a hug fan of greek mythology and modern day retellings of them so I just knew I was going to like this book.

I was originally going to give it three stars given that at times some of the characters were unbearable. Of course, in Aphrodite’s case, this is an amazing portrayal but with the other characters, especially the adults it really pissed me off. But that’s just how real life people actually are, so I believe that by creating a love/hate relationship between us and the characters, Manzano did an amazing job.

I also loved how Manzano showed that different religions can coexist within the same universe. Overall, this was a cute, entertaining and easy read!

Thank you to NetGalley and BookSirens for providing me with an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Sara Narro.
233 reviews20 followers
April 10, 2021
Thank you to BookSirens for providing me an ARC of this book! / ¡Gracias a BookSirens for darme un ARC de este libro!

English Review:
2.5 / 5 stars

Never Say Never is a romance book that follows Brynn, a teenage girl that, because of the complicated and agressive relationship her parents have with each other, doesn´t believe in love. But Val, one of her friends that turns out to be Aphrodite, is determined on finding Brynn a boyfriend.

What captived me the most about the book, was, of course, the synopsis (greek mythology in the modern world specialized in romance? sign me in!). But even though I was really excited to dive into it and completely love it... I didn´t.

The book in itself is not bad, just that from my own expectations the premise suggested, I expected something completely different from what it turned out to be. Just to give a big example, the book follows the same 2014 formula big books used to have on that time: a girl protagonist who thinks is completely different from everyone because she reads and wears black, blonde best friends that are absolutely gorgeous, and a predictable ending. But as I said before, the book is not bad, just that it promises something that at the end is not achieved.

In conclusion, I would say a Middle-Grade focus would be precise. I would recommend this book to people who like slow, predictable romances. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Reseña en Español:
2.5 / 5 estrellas

Never Say Never es un libro de romance que tiene como protagonista a Brynn, una adolescente que, gracias a la complicada y agresiva relación de sus padres, no cree en el amor. Pero Val, una de sus amigas que resulta ser Afrodita, está determinada en encontrarle un novio a Brynn.

Lo que me cautivo más del libro fue, claro, su sinopsis (¿mitología griega en un mundo moderno pero especializado en romance? ¡yo quiero!). Pero aunque estaba muy emocionada por leerlo y amarlo... no lo hice.

El libro en si no es malo, solo que por mis propias expectativas que la premisa sugiere, esperaba algo completamente diferente a lo que termino siendo. Solo para dar un gran ejemplo, el libro sigue la misma fórmula que los libros famosos del 2014 usaban: una chica protagonista que cree es completamente diferente de todos porque lee gusta leer y vestir de negro, mejores amiga rubias que son hermosas y un final predecible. Pero como dije antes, el libro no es malo, solo que lo que se promete no se logra.

En conclusión, yo diría que un enfoque a un público menor sería más preciso. Recomendaría este libro a las personas que les gusta romances lentos y predecibles. Recibí una copia avanzada gratuita, y estoy reseñando el libro voluntariamente.
Profile Image for Ali.
138 reviews
June 8, 2021
I received “Never Say Never” by Justine Manzano from the publisher as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This book could have easily been a 4.5 star because I truly enjoyed reading this book. I finished the book in two sittings! It was quick-paced, fun, and had the usual (though also a little stereotypical) cast of characters you see in romances back in the day - minus Val who is Aphrodite. This book was also really lighthearted.

I really liked the premise of the book and enjoyed the story. Even though I didn’t like Val, I had to remind myself it’s because she was a Greek Goddess so over-the-top made sense. What caused stars to be lost? It was because I was disappointed in the execution of the Greek Goddess element and I was perplexed with how the ending played out. I don’t know how I expected it to end, but it felt like it came out of left field and it left me reeling. After that, I found it difficult to get back into the story and actually enjoy it. I didn’t believe in Val’s redemption and I think that her ending arc was a big factor of what took me out of the story. If the ending and mythological factors were executed just a little better, I know this story would’ve reached the next level.

Again, I still enjoyed the book and I would recommend it to anyone who would like a story that had some serious topics, but takes it in a way that isn’t too intense.
Profile Image for Arpita.
290 reviews19 followers
May 8, 2021
I received this ARC from Netgalley. Here are my thoughts:

The premise of this book is fascinating - a teenage romance with a Greek mythological twist. Honestly, like many of the other reviewers, this is the hook that draws in a reader. However, the plot is good but not great. There is the usual heroine who is stereotyped as a nerd and wearing black always defines her character not just to her peers, but surprisingly also to her parents (who, in my opinion, should know their child on a deeper level but fail sadly at it).

The writing is good, well-paced and easy. But the plot sadly just didn't live up to my expectations as much, landing it overall an okay rating. I'd recommend you to read this if you like teenage romances but don't expect to be wowed either by plot or characters.
Profile Image for Haleigh Wenger.
Author 3 books23 followers
April 7, 2021
Never Say Never was the perfect YA read. It fits well into the contemporary genre but brings a unique voice and ideas to the table. Aphrodite inserting herself into a group of teens is such a fun idea and the drama that ensues is just perfect. Brynn is a sympathetic character and you really feel for her when her parents can’t seem to act like adults throughout the beginning of the book. And the love interest? He’s everything you could want in a sweet and swoony YA friend to lovers book. Definitely recommend this one!
Profile Image for Maria.
6 reviews5 followers
August 9, 2020
I've read multiple drafts of this book, and am probably biased, but I love, love, love this one. I can't wait for everyone to meet Brynn!!
Profile Image for  Indra.
448 reviews66 followers
June 6, 2021
**I received an ARC of this novel through BookSirens, thank you a ton! This has not impacted my review in any way**

**No major plot spoilers are harmed in this review**

“One day you’ll find someone who really is exactly who you think, and he’ll be worth it.”

Hey guys, so I finished this book and I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it. From the description, I thought it would be a pretty alright novel; however, I was not expecting just how deep this novel was and all that it entails. Okay, first, the writing style is pretty easy to digest. The author uses just enough background details to sink you into the setting of this story and to get to know the characters, without going overboard or underboard with descriptions. I thought it was the right amount of details necessary to convey both character intent, emotion, scenic details, and plotline/storyline furthering. The writing style made it easy to consume without feeling as if you are missing out on vital plot details. In my opinion, the heart of the story were the characters. The characters in this novel are the ones who propel the plot without being plot devices. Their words, feelings and behaviors did not feel forced, it felt natural to the situation around them. To be honest, I felt like how the characters handled some of the events in the novel were pretty accurate and a bit soul hitting. The themes the characters struggle with are so relateable: should you change yourself for a guy, parental issues, self image issue, who do you want to be v. who others think you should be, all that. I really felt like they were handled in an appropriate way that made you ache, cry but also burst with joy and happiness for the characters. Especially Brynn.
Byrnn goes through so much in this novel, more than a normal teenager should have to go through. But you know what? She is tough, amazing, and strong, she is Brynn, no one else and no one should try to change her. If they do, well then, maybe they arent worthy of knowing who you truly are. I also found the side characters to be great too, her friends, and their bond, their sister hood, the way that they demostrate that love comes in many shapes and sizes. They also demonstrated the different ways different people may respond to the same event.
As for the love interest, not going to lie I was slightly biased towards him because he reminded me alot of my guy friend. He was charming, humorous, always there to talk to about anything without being judgmental, so caring and protective and just, the type of friend you know you can always count on and is reliable in a time of crisis. What more could you ask for?
Another thing I enjoyed about this novel was the mythology. I am a sucker for greek mythology and I found it funny and accurate the way the author portrayed it. it was both easy to understand but also funny, and memorable. Similar to how Rick Riordan writes his myth tales.
So yeah, I enjoyed this novel, but remember, this is all my opinion. If you want your own, read the book. Till next time.
Profile Image for Katrina.
675 reviews31 followers
April 14, 2021
Thank you to Netgalley for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review

This was a bit of a frustrating read for me. The concept is so strong, and could easily be a 5 star read if executed correctly. It just happens that this wasn't executed very well at all. I found a lot of these characters to be unreasonable.

Let's start with Brynn's parents. Brynn doesn't get along with her mother because Brynn isn't the perfect Barbie her mother always hoped she would be. Then there's also the part where Brynn catches her mother having an affair, and Brynn is just supposed to get over that betrayal and stop disrespecting the guy her mother was hooking up with. When her father moves out, Brynn wants to live with him, but her parents somehow decide that the most important thing is for her to get along with her mother instead. Every time Brynn talked with her father on the phone, it was the same conversation, just with different words, and it was honestly tedious to read after the second time around.

Then there's Val. Look. I get it. She's Aphrodite, and love is the most important thing to her. But the way she went about doing things was manipulative and irritating. I mean, even Nina (who is supposed to be her sister) would tell Val to shut up sometimes because of how insensitive she was being. It didn't matter what Brynn had to say, Val always had some argument lined up as to why it's so important that Brynn finds love. Never mind the fact that she's a teenager and could easily worry about finding love in college or even later in life.

Then there's Brynn. She's the typical 'not like the other girls' character. It felt like she was arguing just to argue instead of actually having a point at times. Sometimes I could see what she was trying to get at, but most of the time, I couldn't really see the point of her behaving the way she was.

Like I said, I love the concept behind this story. But I wish it had better characters because it was just exhausting to read
Profile Image for JoAnna.
180 reviews
May 5, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book; all opinions are my own.

I am an absolute sucker for Greek Mythology - when I was younger I devoured any Greek Mythology books I could find, compared them to Roman Mythology retellings of the same stories, and read both fictional adaptations as well as "historical" accounts of myths. So when I learned about this book from a friend I knew I wanted to read it as soon as possible. I was fortunate to receive an ARC of this, and so I was able to read about Brynn, Adam, Nina, and Val/Aphrodite immediately.

I related to Brynn a lot, having gone through a similar situation in high school (which I am not going to go into detail about because spoilers), and her whole vibe/aesthetic just seemed very much me at 17. Adam was someone I would have totally dated, and Nina reminded me a lot of my best friend. However, Val grated on me a lot. To be fair, that is a huge aspect of the book, the character development of Val/Aphrodite and the back-and-forth between her and Brynn, but it was a constant struggle for me to find anything redeemable about her character which at times made it difficult to read sections of the book where she was the primary focus.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a very lighthearted contemporary YA and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something sweet to read who enjoys the Greek Myths. It isn't overly long/drawn out, and I kept wanting to see what happened to everyone/how things resolved. You should definitely consider picking this up when it comes out in June 2021.
Profile Image for Brittany Zimmerman.
362 reviews10 followers
April 3, 2021
Thank you to BookSirens for the ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

When I saw the description of this book, I was immediately intrigued. The thought of Aphrodite coming down to prove to a mortal that love is real? What a concept. I couldn’t be more interested in seeing how that works out. I mean hello.. the Trojan War was basically Aphrodite’s fault. How on earth is she going to force a mortal to fall in love naturally? Well, this book sure did tell me.

I really enjoyed this. This was so fun! The plot was interesting, spaced out well and the characters really drove the plot. The relationship between Brynn and Nina reminded me of my relationship with my best friend. I absolutely LOVED that they called each other their soulmate. It was so sweet and I love close knit friends in books. Truly. The dynamic between Brynn, Nina and Val/Aphrodite was incredible. I loved watching their personalities evolve and change based upon their relationships with Reeve, Adam and Gabe. The character arcs were genuine and true to the characters. I enjoyed watching them grow and watch their relationships change.

The romance in this book was so sweet. I loved it. I don’t want to spoil it, but I really thought how they came together was so cute. It made my heart flutter. This was really well done and I really enjoyed it!

Profile Image for Jessica.
796 reviews23 followers
June 21, 2021
Brynn Stark has decided to never fall in love. After watching her parents marriage and her best friend Nina's "on again, off again" relationship with Reeve, Brynn is certain of one thing: love hurts. However, Nina's foster sister Val is adamant in her efforts to get Brynn to go on dates she's setting up. When Brynn's reluctant, Val reveals her true identity: Aphrodite, the goddess of love! At the same time Brynn is starting to develop feelings for Adam, Val's boyfriend...

The reason I wanted to read this book was that it had some mythological elements; Aphrodite in a contemporary YA! Unfortunately I don't think the author manages to fully incorporate the concept. I don't take Aphrodite seriously, since I feel she doesn't really fit in. Val/Aphrodite is also very annoying for the most part, and I wouldn't stand her company many minutes at a time! The other characters are rather stereotypical, but I like them anyway.

The book also felt a bit too long for me, it could easily have been shortened at least 50-70 pages (my copy was 277 pages). Other than that I've quite enjoyed hanging with Brynn, Nina, Adam and Gabe for a while. If Manzano had used the greek mythology more it would have suited me better. Now I would recommend it to those who like contemporary YA with a mythological twist!

* I received an ARC through BookSirens and I'm giving my honest review. *
Profile Image for sasha.
12 reviews4 followers
April 17, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own and not influenced by this review copy.

The story begins when Brynn finds her mom cheating on her dad and is internally conflicted about whether she should tell her dad or not. When she does, she’s tired of all the drama, all while helping her friend Nina get through a breakup. Soon after she finds out that her other friend, Val, is Aphrodite the goddess of love and beauty. Throughout this, Val tries to set Brynn up with different guys because according to Val, Brynn needs to “find and believe in love”. But this doesn’t distract her from Val’s boyfriend, Adam.

This is a story that has great potential in so many ways as we get to see Brynn develop as a character, an intervention of Greek gods and goddesses in teenage romance and family struggles. The characters weren’t as mature as I expected them to be in terms of dealing with their problems but still interesting.

However, the entire Val/Aphrodite concept was rushed and random in my opinion. Val could’ve been given a role of matchmaker instead of an outright goddess. Everyone just accepted she was an ancient goddess and it was very downplayed considering she could do so much more than set Brynn up on dates.
Profile Image for Mar.
1,578 reviews28 followers
April 18, 2021
2 stars

This book had so much potential but sadly it was wasted.
I picked it up because I love Mythology and the concept sounded great but as soon as I saw that Brynn was the typical 'not like the other girls' character I checked out of the story.
The plot didn't help either because most of the characters annoyed me. Val in particular was infuriating which let me to skimmed parts of the book because I just couldn't stand to read her parts.
Overall I think this book it's for very young audiences in the YA genre, maybe that's why I couldn't enjoy it.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tiffany L Poynter.
91 reviews9 followers
June 2, 2021
Overall this book is a cute little story about finding love. I was very excited reading the description about Brynn finding out one of her good friends is actually Aphrodite. I was looking forward to a modern day story with Greek mythology ties in. The book focuses more on the love story and less on the Greek..which people might enjoy but left me wanting more but that’s just my personal preference.

I received this book early for my honest review. Thank you BookSirens for providing me with the ARC.
Profile Image for Panda.
7 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2021
This book was an interesting premise, but the twist partway through the book felt a little sudden, I know twists are supposed to be a bit eye opening but it just felt a little disjointed and kind of out of left field. Regardless it was still a pretty good book. At times the characters made me really want to shake them as they had some very frustrating moments, but there were also some sweet moments between the two friends who are more like siblings.

The author definitely has some interesting ideas so I look forward to seeing what she writes later.

Profile Image for Renee.
Author 26 books442 followers
March 18, 2021
Cute and fun. I read my share of YA books and found this one to be pretty typical in regard to character types and underlying tropes. I do feel this one would likely appeal more to an middle grade readership rather than an upper YA reader population due to the lingo and the simplistic plot delivery. I think the cover works well for that demographic too.

Thank you netgalley for the advance reader copy.
Profile Image for Giada.
81 reviews8 followers
July 22, 2021
thanks to Net-Galley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange to an honest review.
3.5 stars
Brynn Stark after discovering her mother cheating on her father does not want to know about love, too bad that one of her best friends is Aphrodite the goddess of love. I was immediately intrigued by the plot and all in all I found it a very pleasant read, many characters I admit were difficult to bear but only because they were very well written in my opinion.
#NeverSayNever #NetGalley
Profile Image for Nicole Bea.
Author 19 books122 followers
June 8, 2021
Justine has an excellent writing style and a great voice for YA fiction that I definitely enjoyed! I particularly liked how she tied in some fantasy with this contemporary novel, which made it really fun! Definitely something I would read again.
Profile Image for Aly.
2,526 reviews
November 15, 2021
What do you do when the goddess of love decides to find your true love, but the one you want is her boyfriend? Brynn isn't looking for love after her parent's awful marriage finally comes to an end and her best friend's heart is broken by her loser boyfriend. Brynn is just waiting for college so she can move away and start a new life when she learns that her friend is actually Aphrodite and will stop at nothing to find her a boyfriend.

I liked the way the author incorporated a Greek Goddess into a modern world. It was an interesting turn of events and Aphrodite is a bit crazy in her attempts to keep Brynn and Adam apart. She can be awful and mean, but you also feel bad for her because she's been through a lot and just wants to find love for herself. Adam, Gabe, and Nina are good friends and supported Brynn through a lot. I always like seeing a good support group like that.

Brynn was a bit much sometimes. She pouted a lot, threw toddler level tantrums, and had a bit of the 'not like other girls' vibe that I don't love. Her parents were worse, maintaining a hate filled relationship just for appearances. Brynn's mom also didn't seem to think she'd done anything wrong by cheating and punished Brynn for not immediately jumping aboard her new relationship. The whole family needed therapy badly and I wasn't satisfied with how they left things.

This was cute overall and a quick read. I hope to see more contemporary-mythology books in the future.

I voluntarily read and reviewed this book and all opinions are my own. Thank you to Sword and Silk and NetGalley for the copy.
Profile Image for Courtney Shapiro.
557 reviews31 followers
August 19, 2021
I LOVED this book. Brynn was such an incredibly relatable character and what she was going through really resonated with me. The divorce and problems with her parents and family life were very similar to my own life and I felt really seen here. It was also incredibly emotional to see exactly what I'm thinking and feeling about my own situation right there on the page. Val was a bit unlikeable at times and I wanted to punch her just like Brynn did, but I think that was the point. I enjoyed the cast of characters and I really think everyone had great growth and development by the end of the book. A lot of the story was so funny too. Brynn was snarky and sassy, but also super likeable and I loved the contrast that Adam provided to her. Her friendship with Nina definitely meant a lot to me as well. the pop culture references were also incredible and I think Justine balanced the angst teenager vibe with a mature adult really well.
Profile Image for Erin.
110 reviews10 followers
May 16, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free ARC in exchange for a review.

This book is some real divorced kid shit. And I loved it. Brynn’s parents’ have a relationship that I think most divorced kids will recognize. It’s one of the most realistic depictions of divorce I think I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t be surprised if Manzano has some real life experience with this. Brynn’s mom clearly has some issues, and honestly, I think her and Brynn could use some family therapy, but the family dynamics are really well-explored and bittersweet. I love Brynn’s relationship with her dad. They get along so well, and it’s really nice to see a positive parental relationship in YA.

Brynn is a fun protagonist, and I think I would have really related to her as a teen. Definitely someone I root for. She and Nina have a beautiful friendship, real soulmates, which I, of course, love. Adam is so great. I love him. He's sweet, funny, and goofy. So well-written, and you immediately love him.

This portrayal of Aphrodite was so great. She has all the bubbly, girly aspects, and the very real power and wrath from the myths. I also loved how unimpressed Brynn and Nina are by her powers. Val literally has to demand they worship her and it’s such a funny scene.

My absolute favorite thing about this book is that there is no stupid miscommunications or assumptions. Brynn and Adam genuinely communicate with each other, and when there is an issue, Brynn does her best to bring it up to the person. Finally, a healthy example of how to deal with relationships!

This was an incredibly sweet, intelligent read with great characters and a lovely message about all the different kinds of love. 5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Energy (Rae's Reading).
1,448 reviews35 followers
June 2, 2021
What’s a girl to do when she has no interest in love? Whatever she wants, because Brynn is a badass young woman who’s assertive and happy with herself. But her home life isn’t going so great. It doesn’t help that her parents put her in the middle of their arguments. Her thoughts on love solidify after finding her mother in bed with someone other than her father.

Even though she is closer to her father, both her parents are toxic. The minute they started using her as a go-between, I wanted to hurry her right out of there. I imagine that level of emotional trauma would have long-term effects on her. Manzano added a touch of mythology to this YA contemporary read, bringing the storyline to a new level. Overall, the mixed genres with the fun storyline make this a read you don’t want to put down. Nicely done. Thank you, Sword and Silk Books, for sending this along.
Profile Image for Tracy.
1,850 reviews31 followers
June 7, 2021
Ok, this was very cute, and not sickeningly sweet cute. I must not have remembered abut Aphrodite when I finally started reading it because I went "WHAT!?!" very interesting plot twist. I think that this book is about friendship, and relationships with parents, even not great parents and/or gods, you know. I enjoyed it. While I did not grow up with Percy Jackson, (by a long shot ;) ), I found myself wondering if this might not be for older fans of that series? I like a good snarky comment myself, btw :D

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Jainab.
45 reviews
May 12, 2021
I really really enjoyed this one. It was a captivating story with a nice theme. The positivity of 'love' was shown in this modern fairy tale. Recommended to the YA fans!
92 reviews
June 18, 2021
Brynn Stark is sure she’ll never fall in love. After seeing her parents marriage go down in slow flames over the course of several years, she just can’t see it as a possibility. When her sort of friend Val reveals herself to be the goddess Aphrodite and announces that she’s determined to find Brynn a love match, Brynn goes along with it. She quickly realizes that she might like Adam, Val’s boyfriend, and that making a Greek goddess mad might not be a great idea. Val sets Brynn up on all sorts of dates, or attempts to. Unfortunately, she also uses her powers to do so, enticing boys to accept a date with Brynn and then attempting to make Brynn over so that she looks more appealing. Unfortunately, this does not vibe with Brynn’s sense of style. She prefers darker colors and looser clothing. She doesn’t want to change who she is to attract a boy she doesn’t even want and who probably doesn’t want her anyway.

Brynn struggles with feelings of self worth throughout the whole novel because she’s fat. Plus, her mother hates this fact and would prefer that she dress up and present herself with the proper decorum. Though her mother is so concerned about appearances, she’s also having an affair. Her judgment of Brynn, when she herself is not being courteous or accepting of her own faults, makes Brynn frustrated and angry at her mother, and rightfully so. The depiction of this frustration was very well done, as were the discussions and arguments following. I loved the emotion shown here. It came through very well and was dealt with in a realistic way; immaturely at first because humans are emotional and, later, there were some very mature conversations that lead to a good result. Communication is very important and well executed between many of the parties, especially between Brynn and her friends, Adam in particular. Adam never wanted Brynn to change her attitude or how she dressed and what she looked like. He was in fact very up in arms as soon as he found out that Val tried to make her over. It was very sweet and really solidified their potential for a relationship early on, making it believable.

Not only is Brynn very mature, but her friends are as well. I really loved the dynamic here, between Nina, Brynn’s best friend, and their friend, Adam, as well as his cousin, Gabe. They were all very cognizant of each other’s space and respectful enough to at least listen to each other’s viewpoints before countering them and continuing the discussion. Very rarely did a character storm off without listening and, when that did happen, I felt like it was warranted. Val, later revealed to be Aphrodite, is Nina’s foster sister and friend, as well as Adam’s boyfriend. She is very pushy and fatphobic, trying to change Brynn into someone else so that she can attract the perfect mate, refusing to believe that someone might want Brynn as she is, fat and sarcastic and all. Nina and Brynn seem only to tolerate her because they know she’s a goddess and has powers after they find out. I had hoped there would be more drama about Val being Aphrodite but while there were some brief discussions, the topic fell aside. The fact that she was Aphrodite was still relevant but they weren’t freaking out about it or wondering what they could do. Which I suppose makes sense because what could they do? She’s a goddess and they are mere powerless mortals. Considering that she has powers and can see the love matches between people, I feel like she could have done a better job at finding a match for Brynn, without trying to change her. Instead, we end up with a lot of failed dates and sad times for all involved, solidifying Brynn’s belief that she won’t find love. Aphrodite could have been so much better than she was.

I also like the fat positivity and the way Manzano kept saying that Brynn walked a lot. She walked everywhere and ate healthy food and reasonable portions and yet, despite that, she was still fat. Being fat is not always an issue of overeating or not exercising and while this issue was not tackled head on, the various hints dropped were enough to make this clear.

The ending and inclusion of Greek gods and world shifting powers was jarring, especially as they related to the ending. It didn’t really fit with the vision of the book I had from reading the previous 80 percent or so of the novel. I felt Val’s story could have been drawn to an end in a better way. She didn’t experience any real growth as a character and definitely didn’t take responsibility for her actions in a real way, though she hurt her supposed friends quite badly in many small and large ways throughout. That, and it’s a pretty overused trope that a person doesn’t believe in love because their parents have a bad relationship; I’ve read three other books this year that deal with this as an issue. This book had the added element of a fat main character but it is still an overused trope. It definitely didn’t stop me from reading but I definitely rolled my eyes a little at the explanation.

Overall, it was the characters that drew me in. They were so well rounded and emotional and felt very real. This book was such an easy read to fall into, drawing me onwards with what Aphrodite would do next, whether Brynn and Adam would end up together, and what would happen between Brynn and her parents. There were many plotlines and possibilities but everything felt wrapped up at the end. Perhaps a little too nicely but it was good to see a positive ending.

Thank you to Sword and Silk Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book!
Profile Image for Missteareads.
50 reviews
May 22, 2021
I received an ARC from Thebooksiren for an honest review.
Brynn has a very jaded view on love since she's seen only bitterness between her parents. She doesn't want to be seen, her attire, her attitude everything is to keep people away from her. Her best friend since they were kids has always been protective of her. Val is Nina's foster sister and completely the opposite. She thrives on love, quite literally. She reveals herself to be Aphrodite, who has been banished from Mt Olympus after the Trojan War incident. She has made it her mission to find love for Brynn. things get complicated when Brynn starts having feeling for Adam, Aphrodite's very mortal boyfriend.
Throughout mythology we know what a notorious goddess she is, it is right to fear her, and that's why I liked her character. There were instances when I got annoyed at her, then realised who is actually is. However, the thing is, Zeus sent her to the mortal world for her to connect with the humans, which even after so many years she failed to do so. She never learnt. No one probably challenged her the way Brynn did.
Brynn's family dynamics isn't the greatest. Her mother was annoying, really her father wasn't better. Things could have definitely been handled better. I liked the growth they had as a family. I loved her relationship with Nina. You could make out they were close to sister's than friends. And it is a powerful thing when you see the different kinds of love there are in the world. The way Brynn tells how she found her soulmate in Nina. Brynn's friendship with Adam begins when she realises that he sees her for who she really is and not what society dictates how she should be just for appearances. He gained major points for that, but he lost dinner points when he thought he needs to fight Brynn's battles for her.
This book shows us that there's no time limit to find yourself. You can be in high school, you can be ending a marriage, or in Val's case, you could still be looking. But that's the thing, you should genuinely be looking, and not demanding that it should just happen.
There are always forces in play whether people believe in it or not. We see them in small miracles. Another thing I liked how it showed that different religions and cultures can coexist. It is a heavy statement, in the end it has comes down to belief.
I enjoyed this light hearted coming of age story which managed to deal with serious issues.
Profile Image for KANCHAN RAJEEV.
37 reviews12 followers
April 25, 2021
Note - I received a digital arc of this book for free ; a courtesy of Book Sirens on the basis of which this review has been posted voluntarily. This is an honest opinion of mine.

I have always been a fan of Greek Mythology and an okay-ish fan of totally cheesy rom-com type books . I mostly prefer to see such books as films than read them usually. Romance infused with action packed magic fantasy stories is more my thing actually !! However seeing an Olympian Greek goddess of love Aphrodite ( Actually 3 !! - the other two for you all to find out when you read this book.) part of a YA high school - coming of age romance story, I simply had to pick it up for a read. And it was a treat indeed... Aphrodite as a high school student looking to find love for the protagonist of the story Brynn Stark at all the wrong places. The story descriptions is more than sufficient a synopsis so anything more might end up a spoiler.

This book simply oozes warmth, fuzziness and good feels as you read. It also teaches you so many good lessons on love and about love. Love is not a just a bond between couples. It is omnipresent everywhere in the relationships that you harbor with your friends and family too. Many a times in the quest to find true love and soul mate in a crowd, we sometimes forget that the love we are craving for was always around us - in our parents, our childhood friend, our high school gang and so on. They too can be your soul mates too !! A romantic liaison is just a fantasied and publicized concept of the modern era - you find it, its good but that shouldn't stop you from seeing the love that is already around you.

It was a pleasant book but at times, some characters did get a bit irritating to bear with in the read. This is the type of predictable romcoms that you still binge on Netflix despite its predictability aspect. The story plotline would have been a lot more enthralling to the older readers if its fantasy aspect was worked on a bit more. Having the gods involved provided a lot more scope for the same. It is a good book for beginner readers and young teens but for the older lot, you have to be really obsessed with reading such books to actually like it. Worth a read on a rainy day when you want something light and relaxing.
Profile Image for S. Kaeth.
Author 5 books46 followers
June 2, 2021
I received an ARC through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Never Say Never is an imaginative contemporary fantasy with a cast of memorable characters and a healthy dose of YA snark. Justine Manzano's signature sass comes through just as clearly in this, her latest book published through Sword and Silk Books, as it did in her debut, The Order of the Key. Brynn has a lot of Jaclyn's attitude, though she's her own character, and she was entertaining to read along with.

Brynn has sworn off love. Too bad her friend Val turns out to be the goddess Aphrodite--and she takes that as a challenge. Amidst the emotional storm of discovering her mother's affair and weathering her parents' divorce, Val's incessant, embarrassing attempts to set her up with every possible guy their age wear on Brynn. Val's boyfriend Adam ends up being a source of solace, and when Brynn realizes she's uncovering feelings she really shouldn't have for her friend's boyfriend (even if that friend wasn't a jealous love goddess), she back pedals as fast as she can.

I really loved the diverse cast of characters and the strong friendships shown here, especially between Brynn and Nina, although I'm not a huge fan of Greek mythology in real life. That just means this book wasn't written for me, and that's ok! It's still a solid book and the ending ramped up the tension like crazy. It was a quick read, and the characters stuck with me between readings, too. I love Nina's family-- they're so wholesome, and I love seeing examples of wholesome families in literature. Brynn's family dynamics felt real to me too, and her motivations made sense even when I disagreed with her actions.

Overall, if you're looking for a cast of vibrant characters that feel alive, especially if you love Greek mythology, you should definitely try Never Say Never.

Indie Story Geek review: https://indiestorygeek.com/story/662
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