Book Review – Game Plan

Title: Game Plan (Varsity Girlfriends #4)
Author: Kayla Tirrell
Published: May 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

Synopsis:

I’ve only got one shot to win his heart.

I’ve had a crush on Preston Royce for as long as I can remember. Only, I’ve never told him, or anyone, because he doesn’t see me that way. (And because his sister, Charlie, happens to be my best friend!)

But when Preston’s girlfriend breaks his heart, Charlie comes up with a plan to get them back together–a plan that involves Preston and me pretending to date.

Yeah, it’s a bad idea cozying up with a guy who’s still in love with his ex, but it may be my only chance to get close to him before we graduate high school. He thinks we’re faking.

Meanwhile, I’m falling more in love with him…

Game Plan is perfect for anyone who likes their sweet romance with a dash of drama. It is the fourth book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“Every time I felt like I’d made some progress in turning mine and Preston’s fake relationship into something real, she showed up and reminded me exactly where I stood. I was a placeholder, and my only purpose was to make Beth jealous” (chapter 14)

Happy book birthday to Game Plan, by Kayla Tirrell! Thank you for a free copy in return for an honest review.

My heart is bursting from my chest! The utter sweetness of this story completely oozes off the pages in the best way possible. I’m so happy that we get to revisit the Royce family in a whole separate book, but now with a deeper look into the character of Preston. My heart is SWOONING for Daria’s and Preston’s fake relationship. Have I mentioned before how these types of stories are my favorite? The only sad thing is that basketball season is basically over at the beginning of the book, so there’s not much action on the court for a sports romance.

Daria is struggling to define who she is and what she wants. Her parents have a very clear idea of who they think she is, but all the options outside of their plans is overwhelming. All she knows for sure is that her best friend’s brother stole her heart many years ago and she might die from embarrassment if they found out. Which is probably why she said yes to Charlie’s harebrained idea for Daria to fake date Preston. Nothing can go wrong there, right?

I was rooting for Daria the entire time. It felt so familiar to revisit this town and all the people around them that help shape their every day lives, but I think that’s what makes this story, making a full circle back to book one, all the more sweeter. There’s no one else I wanted to root for in the whole series more than these two.

Book Review – Rebound Boyfriend

Title: Rebound Boyfriend (Varsity Girlfriends #3)
Author: Daphne James Huff
Published: April 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 2 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

44286728

Synopsis:

I am 100%, completely, totally over Jeremiah.

After all, he’s the one who dumped me.
For my best friend.
Via text message.
Two days before Christmas.

So I did what any self-respecting head cheerleader would do: I started dating his teammate. Who’s great. Really.

But now Jeremiah keeps looking at me like he misses holding me just as much as I miss being in his arms. And we’ve been paired up for the most important history project of my entire life.

Can my heart survive this? Or should I hope for another shot with the only boy I’ve ever loved?

Rebound Boyfriend is a sweet second chance sports romance you’ll swoon over instantly. It’s the third book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“Everyone who knew how to make things better had left me. This was all on me to figure out” (chapter 26)

Thank you Kayla Tirrell and the Varsity Girlfriends team for a free copy in return for an honest review.

This story left a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t find any of the characters to be engaging or redeeming, except for possibly parts with Jeremiah. I tried not to go into this story with any time of YA cheerleader stereotypes, but this story stuck pretty close to the script. All of the girls were whiny and superficial. Sammi just wasn’t very likable, which made it hard to empathize with her while she’s dealing with heartache.

Things that made me frustrated: Sammi’s best friend was extremely manipulative. There’s a line between trying to help your friend get over their ex and forcing them to do things to make that happen, and Staci for sure crosses that line completely. I also didn’t like Sammi’s relationship with Ryan–or really Ryan at all. He was annoying and I couldn’t make sense of anything he did. Sammi’s decision to train him to be a good boyfriend was a really half-assed plot device and wasn’t fleshed out well at all. And finally, the reveal of why Jeremiah broke up with Sammi, even though he was clearly not over her, was extremely anti-climatic and pretty silly.

I did very much enjoy some of the scenes between Sammi and Jeremiah, specifically when they were working on their history project. The chemistry between them was fun to read.

Book Review – Off Center

Title: Off Center (Varsity Girlfriends #2)
Author: M. F. Lorson
Published: March 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

51vAkq7AOQL

Synopsis:

I knew exactly what I wanted out of my senior year.

A full ride to Northwestern University, the title of American High School Journalist of the Year, and a kiss, not just any kiss, but one from the boy I’ve been in love with since the sixth grade.

By October, my plan was fully in motion with liplock by Christmas imminent. Imminent, that was, until Andie Mercantile moved to Marlow Junction, swooping both my beat and my man.

Now, I’m stuck writing the sports column–a subject I know nothing about. My goals aren’t unobtainable, but they will take a lot more work. Just because a sports writer has never won Journalist of the Year before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And as for the kissing part, I’m not counting myself out just yet.

After all, maybe learning a bit about competition is just what I need.

Off Center is the second book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“It didn’t take a detective to pick up on the fact that I’d spent the entire proactive staring at Mackey like he were the second coming of Zac Efron” (chapter 13)

Thank you Kayla Tirrell and the Varsity Girlfriends team for a free copy in return for an honest review.

Lane is driven, a hard worker, and a hopeless romantic. It’s easy to get swept up in her goals and she fights to make her senior year everything she dreams it could be. Even when her very specific plans crumble in her hands, she tries to make the most of it by still striving to be the absolute best she can be.

The more we learn about Lane, about her relationship with her dad, the emails she writes to her best friend, the fear of failure, the more I just want to hold her tight and tell her everything will work out. It’s so sweet seeing her learn that on her own as she learns to take the things that come to her instead of holding out for an ideal.

These stories hold a lot more depth than I was expecting going in, and it does not disappoint. Plus, is there anything more sweet than a when a character falls for the opposite of what they think they need? The love interest completely tugs on all your heart strings with his big, but oh so sweet, personality and his desire to see the best in people.

I kind of want to revisit these characters. I love that this series looks at the lives of different people in the same school, and how their lives overlap, but I kind of wish I could keep reading about Lane and Mackey just a little bit longer.

Book Review – Courtside Crush

Title: Courtside Crush (Varsity Girlfriends #1)
Author: Kayla Tirrell
Published: February 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

51s7TN9LYtL

Synopsis:

So much for senior year being the best part of high school.

It all started when I caught my boyfriend cheating on me.

I did what any girl would do—I got revenge. Of course, it didn’t stop there. Thanks to a condemning video, I also got eight weeks of community service and athletic probation right before basketball season is supposed to start. (There goes my spot as captain!)

Thankfully there’s a guy at Marlowe Junction’s Helping Hands who makes passing the time more enjoyable. He’s gorgeous, funny, and a huge basketball fan.

Too bad he’s also my brother’s biggest enemy…

Courtside Crush is a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, perfect for anyone who likes their sweet romance with a dash of drama. It is the first book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“There was just something special about drama that brought everyone out from the woodwork. These were people I didn’t talk to on a daily, or even weekly, basis. Why did they think they had special privileges?” (chapter 16)

Happy book birthday to Kayla Tirrell’s Courtside Crush. Thank you, Kayla, for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Charlie is mad. She isn’t always one to stay out of trouble in the first place, but now her potential for athletic scholarships is in jeopardy because she just wanted to teach Anderson a little lesson for making out with girls who are not Charlie. Really, he’s the one at fault here. Even her super protective step-brother agrees. To make things worse, now she has to spend every Saturday volunteering with Marlowe Junction’s Helping Hands or she’ll be expelled! At least there’s a cute guy stuck there, too.

This book has all the feel-good romance of a YA contemporary, mixed with the ever present drama of high school, plus an endearing, supportive family. What I loved the most was that I didn’t feel like I was being told that Charlie’s family was close, or that her best friend was supportive and sassy, or even how sweet of a guy Jackson is, but rather I was shown it by getting a vivid window into their lives. This is captivating writing for me. Charlie’s struggles are so raw and seemed to never end—constantly dealing with bad news after bad news with hard decisions all mixed in. In the end, you’re absolutely rooting for her as she learns about who she is, and how to stand up for herself when the world sends wave after wave to knock her down.

Tirrell’s Courtside Crush is a fun sports romance with a refreshing style of storytelling for the genre. Tirrell’s writing stayed away from cliche, overly descriptive scenes and characters, which helped me emerge in the book completely because I was allowed to use my imagination. The character development was pretty wonderful, and I found myself completely drawn into Charlie’s family dynamic. I will definitely be looking into Tirrell’s other books.

Book Review/Blog Tour – Triplicity

Title: Triplicity
Author: J. Mercer
Published: January 2019
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

Triplicity

Synopsis:

One week on an Alaskan cruise, three teens, and an endless trail of lies.

Enter a series of thefts on board and they all fall under scrutiny. Though Navy acts a proper preacher’s daughter, she did end up with someone else’s purse in her hands, and Jesse knows way more than he should about what’s gone missing. Isaiah, however, is the one with motive—enough money and he could get back to his ranch. Each holds a piece of the truth, but exposing the thief could damn them all. They must navigate through the lies they’ve told, choose between standing together or saving themselves, and decide if innocence is worth facing their ugliest secrets.

*For readers of Kasie West and Jenny Han.*

“I guess that’s what I wanted to see next—real love…the kind that weathered storms” (Day 4).

Happy book birthday to J. Mercer’s Triplicity. Thank you Mercer, Bare Ink, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Don’t forget to click the banner above to follow the rest of the tour for reviews and excerpts.

Mercer’s writing uncovers a serious of thefts on a cruise ship with a delightful level of mystery, paired with lots of finger pointing to up the stakes. The three random teenagers—Navy, Jesse, and Isaiah—are thrown together through cruise events, endless flirting, and increasing suspicions. They all come with their own baggage, their own dreams, and their own motivations. Following their individual perspectives as the week on the ship unfolds adds the perfect amount of tension to the plot. I’m in love: with the characters who are more than meets the eye, with the plotting and the accusations, and with this wonderful storytelling that brings it all together. You will not want to be torn away from the events on the Triplicity cruise, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Purchase Link:
Amazon

About the Author

J. Mercer grew up in Wisconsin where she walked home from school with her head in a book, filled notebooks with stories in junior high, then went to college for accounting and psychology only to open a dog daycare. She wishes she were an expert linguist, is pretty much a professional with regards to competitive dance hair (bunhawk, anyone?), and enjoys exploring with her husband–though as much as she loves to travel, she’s also an accomplished hermit. Perfect days include cancelled plans, rain, and endless hours to do with what she pleases. Find her on Facebook @jmercerbooks or online at http://www.jmercerbooks.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

Giveaway

Giveaway details (INTL):
$25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – Not Far from the Peach Tree

NotFarFromThePeachTreeTour

Follow the tour HERE!

Title: Not Far from the Peach Tree
Author: Sabrina Falk
Published: February 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like it

PeachTree_HR_Cover

Synopsis:

Anxiety has become the only thing Abigail Hartley can count on. Jobless, dreamless, loveless and stuck living with her parents—this isn’t the 22 she had in mind.

But when tragic news rattles the Hartley household and years of secrecy begin to surface, Abigail can no longer hide behind her fears. She joins forces with her sarcastic, pre-teen sister and heads to the only place that might have the answers she’s looking for. One month in Georgia is all it takes to change everything Abigail knows about, well, everything.

“I wish that were true. I wish I would stop messing things up. I wish–I wish my fairy godmother were here, then all this wishing would be good for something” (chapter 19).

Thank you Sabrina Falk, Peasantry Press, and Chapter by Chapter for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I genuinely loved this sweet story about a lost city girl who learns about herself by following her history to a small town in Georgia. Welcome to your 20’s, people. I have never related more to a character than I related to the feelings of despair when faced with the realization that you have no idea what you’re doing with your life. It’s like you’re staring at a brick wall with all the possibilities just beyond it, but no energy to climb it. This is where Abigail is in life, and it doesn’t help that she feels like her parents way of supporting her is by trying to push her, and suggesting she move out.

When Abigail’s grandmother dies, she’s faced with a wave of questions. Who was she? Why did her mother have a poor relationship with her? How come she never got the opportunity to get to know her? So Abigail decides to fake an internship that would please her parents, while including a junior program for her spirited sister who just got put on probation at school, so that the both of them can go to Georgia to learn what they can about this mysterious woman. While she and her sister get their late grandmother’s house ready for an estate sale, Abigail uncovers family secrets set in motion before her mother was even born.

Abigail’s character is so kind and unsure of herself. As she learns more about her grandmother, she starts learning more about herself, and it made my heart happy to see her grow in confidence. Her sister, Maddy, was probably my favorite character, though. She is so spunky, sarcastic, and always hungry! Every time she opened her mouth, I looked forward to what she would say. And of course, how can you write a story set in a small town in Georgia without introducing a swoonable country boy love interest? Lemme tell ya, he’s a good one.

Falk writes an engaging, genuine story with humor from start to finish. The town is charming and full of secrets, the people are hospitable and gossipy, and the sun is just plan hot. I would definitely watch this story unfold in a feel-good movie.

Purchase Links:

BAM| Chapters| Indies| Amazon| B&N| iBooks| Kobo | TBD

Sabrina Falk is a Canadian writer from Southern Manitoba. She received an English Language Arts scholarship at NCI in her graduating year. She is also the co-creator of Matt Falk’s Awful Podcast and played Melissa in the World Vision tour of POOF across Manitoba. She loves traveling all over the world with her family, but Southern Manitoba has always been her home.

Not Far from the Peach Tree is Sabrina Falk’s debut novel.

Twitter | Goodreads

 


Giveaway Details:
$10 USD Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – Sourpuss

Title: Sourpuss
Author: Merricat Mulwray
Published: January 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Comedy

Rating: 1 Star
Cover: Like it

sourpuss_5x8_front

Synopsis:

Sourpuss is a blistering satire of the depraved and entitled culture that pervades college campuses.

Mallory Wahl loathes the campus party scene…

She’s sprinting through her senior year obsessed with winning a spot on the US Olympic track team. But she runs straight into a hurdle in the form of a fraternity president Graham Patterson, an intern assigned to help her recover from an injury – one she blames on him.

Once Graham’s therapies begin to work, Mallory pretends to fall in love but traps herself in her own scheme and tailspins deep into his debauched world. When a scandal erupts which threatens to shatter her Olympic dreams once and for all, Mallory must finally face the dark truth she’s been running from since freshman year.

In the style of a ’90s dark comedy flick, Merricat Mulwray’s debut brings an insightful and humorous perspective to the reckless behavior college students perpetually get away with. Mallory, herself a flawed heroine, is backed by a self-serving cast of athletes, party girls, townies, and fraternity brothers so hilariously dark that they book will leave you wondering if anyone ever gets what they deserve.

“But when she looked around at the thousands of people cheering in the stands, what she felt most was alone” (chapter 25).

Thank you Merricat Mulwray, Haigh 38 Press, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. You can check out an excerpt of the book here.

There is potential for a story here: one where the cynical girl with big dreams learns that the people she steps on to rise to success are the very people she needs, and one that addresses rape culture on college campuses. But I left this story confused.

It’s very apparent that Mulwray gets inspirations from movies like Heathers, and it’s clear that they are writing in this vein, but it falls short by a long shot. All of the characters are awful, none of them having redeeming qualities. This is intentional. However, the characters aren’t developed or fleshed out enough for the reader to connect with them at all through their horrible personalities. What’s keeping us attached to this book? There is also no dark comedy at play here, which is how the book is advertised. It’s just dark, poorly written, and lacking editing.

The transitions were frequently missing, which caused me to have trouble following the plot. There were many moments where I would stop and say, “But how did we get here?” or “Why is this character randomly different?” The narrative also changes from Mallory’s perspective to literally everyone else’s 14 chapters in: another element to the overall confusion. Why did we even need Wesley’s perspective? He is a side character and his perspective doesn’t add a single thing to the story except continue to make you disgusted at all the characters. If the change of perspective is absolutely necessary,  which I don’t believe it is, two perspectives is all we need. The backstory on characters was just thrown in haphazardly and many times wasn’t needed, or could’ve been introduced better. The “character growth” didn’t make sense nor was it believable. I had a hard time finishing this.

Sourpuss needs a lot of work. I was excited to enter a world modeled after ’90s dark comedy, but left it with a nasty taste in my mouth and feeling very disconnected with the story.