Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy HallA Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Published by Swoon Reads on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

Swoon Reads is doing this crowdsourcing thing, which I think is pretty cool. I was definitely curious about the quality of the fiction coming out of this new imprint. A Little Something Different is the first title, chosen by the voting of the community, and I’m definitely impressed enough to keep checking out what Swoon Reads puts out, especially since the second one is about ice skating. A Little Something Different lives up to its title in being a little bit different from the average romance novel. It’s cute and fluffy and a delightfully quick read.

Sandy Hall, rather than telling the romance from the perspectives of one or both people involved in the romances, chooses to use pretty much every other perspective possible. This technique could easily fail, but Hall pulls it off. You know that quote about how it takes a village? Well, it takes a campus to get Gabe and Lea together. Everyone from baristas to bus drivers to professors to family are all rooting for these too super shy kids to realize that they both actually like each other and make a move. As always with multiple points of view, it’s interesting to see Gabe and Lea through assorted different lenses.

The POVs aren’t all the most distinct, but most of the sections are short enough it doesn’t really matter. When they’re all in groups, though, I would occasionally lose track of whether I was in Maribel’s head, Sam’s, or Casey’s. My favorite narrators were, strangely enough, bench and squirrel. Yeah, I’m being serious. On top of all the human narrators, Hall includes a campus bench and a squirrel. This is done to allow for the observation of some moments that occur without any human witnesses. It’s silly, yes, but also their POVs are both hilarious and delightfully distinct. It is in this creativity that the book most shines.

The other real draw I felt to A Little Something Different was how truly collegiate it felt. Hall includes things like midnight breakfast, which is indeed much better than regular breakfast despite them having the exact same food. Though the school is most obviously not mine, the experiences fit so well with my experiences, that I was definitely setting it at my alma mater a lot of the time. Also, the college in A Little Something Different is diverse, from the main characters through the cast. There’s no stereotyping at all and it’s never a big thing; it’s just real.

However, there were also some things that impinged on my enjoyment. For one, I don’t really ship Gabe and Lea. I mean, at first, it was cute, but I got frustrated. I mean, holy shit, they didn’t even speak to each other for months. It took a full year to get this relationship off the ground, even though they both really wanted it. I don’t remember any college romances being so patient. Things tended to move pretty quickly, because in college you’re together constantly and every day feels like a week in adult life, or maybe even more. So the pacing was a problem. By the end, I definitely was more rooting for them to realize that if they have nothing to talk about ever, then it’s probably not going to work out, no matter how cute they both are.

Then there’s Inga, their creative writing professor. Gabe and Lea meet in the class and quickly become her ship of the year. I think it’s cute that Inga likes to choose a couple every year and to root for them to hook up. It’s even fine that she tries to orchestrate as much as she can to help them realize they should be together. Her scenes with her wife, Pam, are great too. Unfortunately, though, I think Inga should be fired. She allows her feelings about her students to impact her grading. She thinks that she has to give Gabe an A for a piece of writing because he’s confessed feelings for Lea, without considering whether the writing itself actually merits the A. More damning, Inga tries to talk Hillary, another student, out of taking the second semester course, not because she doesn’t think Hillary’s a good enough writer, but because Hillary has a crush on Gabe and was getting in the way. Not liking HIllary personally is one thing, but trying to talk her out of a class because she doesn’t like Hillary is unprofessional.

Oh, Hillary. I have no doubt I would hate Hillary myself. She’s not very likable and not my sort of person. However, I do think the way this book treats her is over the top. Every single POV character that ever encounters her comments on how awful she is. Her sin? Trying to ask Gabe out. In a book about two people who are totally into one another and won’t make a move, I rather admire Hillary her forthrightness. Lea, maybe instead of calling Hillary names, you should follow her example and ask Gabe out. If you like it, the you should have put some effort in.

A Little Something Different is a very fun read, though I’m left with a few qualms. I recommend it if you’re in the mood for something light, fluffy, and, well, a little different.

Favorite Quote:

When I finish taking roll, I jump back into my spiel.

“I’ve got a theory,” I say.

“That it’s a demon,” Lea says, so quietly I almost miss it, and probably would have, but she slaps a surprised hand in front of her mouth. I see Gabe turn to her and smile.

“A dancing demon?” he says quietly.

And then in my finest Rupert Giles impression of all time I say, “No, something isn’t right there.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif squirrel
Super cute but also a little frustrating

4 responses to “Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall”

  1. Oh man, this was adorable, but yeah, totally agree about your qualms. The Hillary hatred was way unnecessary – particularly from the professor. But I did still ship Gabe and Lea, though I’ll admit, yeah, the progression is incredibly slow.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Audiobook Review: Allegiant by Veronica RothMy Profile

  2. Juhina says:

    i think that is mainly what i’m afraid of… how frustrated i will be with the two people that everyone is rooting for.. and you confirmed my suspicions when you said they didn’t even speak to each other for months.. great review though and the GIF! I’m stealing it 😀

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf
    Juhina recently posted…Blog Tour: The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura LangstonMy Profile

  3. I’ve heard a lot of excitement about this book, and I’m totally curious about it. But I also don’t know if it is for me. I feel like I would get frustrated that this book is told from so many perspectives. And also, the professor would annoy me too!
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Audio Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. RowlingMy Profile

  4. Angie says:

    This book was so cute. I’m super excited to see what else Swoon Reads puts out. The ice skating book sounds awesome. I completely agree with you about the treatment of Hillary & Inga’s general terribleness at being impartial when it comes to her teaching & grading.

    THE BUFFY QUOTE. I squealed like a ridiculous person when I read that.

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