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.

Book Review – The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me

Title: The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me
Author: Olivia Hinebaugh
Published: January 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 1 Star
Cover: Like it

birdsbees

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one ever notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.

But then everything changes.

When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling our wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey’s soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.

“demonizing and stigmatizing sex prevents everyone from getting information on safer sex” (chapter 1).

Thank you Olivia Hinebaugh, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC of The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me in exchange for an honest review. You can check out an excerpt of the book here.

As someone completely fascinated by the correlation between literature and culture, I went into this story wanting to love it. After all, a book promoting teenagers fighting for sex education in their school and supporting the LGBTQIA community is something that is very relevant to our current culture. But the story was completely lacking. It felt like a sex education manual with the story in the sidelines only to give practical examples. Plus there was quite a lot of awkwardness and things that didn’t add up.

The parents were very awkward and weirdly obsessed with talking about sex. While I do feel like parents should have open communication about sex so that their kids are aware and feel safe to ask questions, it really felt like sex was the only thing these moms wanted to talk about.

There is no way a teenager would be allowed to be a midwife for a hospital, nor would most people feel comfortable about that. Even with an independent study internship, there’s no way a hospital would allow this. As soon as Lacey starts doing this, I had so much trouble connecting with her because it just wasn’t believable.

Lacey and Theo’s relationship exploded out of nowhere. This girl has never even been kissed or been a noticeable attraction to guys, and she has no hesitations with jumping Theo’s bones and expressing her love for him literally the day he broke up with his ex. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like.

The lack of character development in lieu of all the mindless sex education did not make many of the scenarios believable, nor did I develop any attachment to the characters. They actually kind of annoyed me. There wasn’t much depth to them and their actions were sometimes confusing. I wasn’t rooting for the romance, and I didn’t connect with the characters’ overall goals because the development was such a side venture to the real goal of educating the reader about sex.

I wish this book was more enjoyable because I feel some of the themes (more topics than themes, though) are ones that should be explored in YA in this culture. Overall, it felt like an over the top problem novel (the problem being abstinence only sex education in schools) where flat, forgettable characters tripped over their words the whole time to be politically correct.

Blog Tour – Sourpuss

Happy Wednesday! Today I am sharing an excerpt from Merricat Mulwray’s recently released debut, Sourpuss. Click the banner above to follow the rest of the tour, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post for a signed print copy of the book!

Title: Sourpuss
Author: Merricat Mulwray
Published: January 20th 2019
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary, New Adult

sourpuss_5x8_front

Synposis:

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 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 the book will leave you wondering if anyone ever gets what they deserve.

Goodreads / Amazon

Excerpt
Graham, dressed as a tiki warrior wearing a Santa hat, laughed hysterically as he chased Wesley, a gingerbread man, around his room. He jabbed at the cookie with his warrior spear.
“I’m wearing the puka shells. You can wear the lei,” commanded Graham.
“The shells go better with my costume. I’m the gingerbread man surfer,” Wesley stated, out of breath and throwing the shells up, like he was riding a wave.
Graham collapsed on his bed. “We look legit.” He was particularly impressed with the way his legs looked extra muscular under his plastic raffia skirt. “You wear the shells,” said Graham, caving in when he saw Wesley striking the perfect surfer pose.
Wesley adjusted his board shorts, then tossed Graham the puka shells. “It’s rad to be invited to a party outside the house. New shit might happen.”
Graham sat up, put on the necklace, and considered what Wesley said. “Yeah, dude. We could all end the night at some sweet intimate rave party. Maybe Ken sectioned off a room.”
“Are you serious, dude? Mallory wouldn’t be down for that,” grimaced Wesley.
“Bro, she could be.” Graham stood up from the bed and sipped on Wesley’s flask. He drenched himself and Wesley in Acqua di Gio before grabbing his wallet and keys. “Let’s do it!” he said, confident that they couldn’t look or smell any better.
They left the bedroom, alternating pulls from the flask. The frat house was noiseless, and Graham felt magically lit. He felt the night would boomerang back an endless stream of good vibes. He could barely contain his wild thoughts and all the opportunities they promised. Mid-creep down the stairs, they heard Andrew’s voice slither in from the other side of the front door and came to an abrupt stop.
“Fuckingdouchebagbouncer! Don’t worry, ladies, we can pull your pan-tays aaaall the way down in hur,” slurred Andrew.
Owen and Andrew came clamoring into the hallway like circus monkeys. “Where are you two going dressed like that?” Owen asked. They had two blacked-out girls draped over their shoulders.
“Come bang these two,” Owen sneered, as he yanked on Wesley’s red and white striped bowtie.
“It’s official business. You can’t come,” shot back Graham as he knocked Owen’s hand away.
“I think they need water,” said Wesley. He peered at two upside down, bloated, and flushed faces. The first girl sucked in air from an open corner of her chapped lips. The second’s eyes were at half-mast. Wesley waved his hand in front of her face, but she was out in the void.
Graham pulled Wesley past them, out of the frat house, leaving his brothers red-faced and resentful.
About the Author

 


Merricat Mulwray is the collaboration of two sisters. They live in Los Angeles where they hatch plans and develop schemes, sometimes these turn into novels.

Website / Goodreads / Instagram / Twitter

 

Giveaway

Giveaway details (US/CAN):
Signed copy of Sourpuss

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour – The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me

Hello, readers! Today is the book birthday if Olivia Hinebaugh’s book, The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me. To celebrate, I’m giving you an inside look and a chance to win a print copy of the book! Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for reviews and author interviews—my review is to come shortly!

Title: The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me
Author: Olivia Hinebaugh
Published: January 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

birdsbees

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.

But then everything changes.

When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Excerpt

“I think I finally have my audition piece,” I say to my best friend Evita. I plop into the chair next to her and start unpacking my lunch.
“Huh?” she asks, pulling out ear buds that I hadn’t noticed under her mane of curls.
“You’re not supposed to listen to anything too loudly,” I remind her. It’s a rule she came up with anyway. She needs to preserve her perfect hearing for when she’s a famous record producer/ singer/DJ. “But if you are going to listen to something . . .” I hold up my phone.
“What’s that?” Theo asks, sitting opposite us.
“Possibly my audition piece,” I tell him.
Evita sits up a little straighter and puts her game face on.
“Hand it over.”
“Why does she get to hear it first?” Theo asks.
“Get over here,” Evita tells him, holding out one of her ear buds.
“It’s obviously just a MIDI file, but, you know, I could do it on viola. With maybe piano, but it’s kind of . . .” I gnaw on the side of my thumb.
Theo shoves between us, balancing precariously across our two chairs. I hand Evita the phone. She hits play. The piece is two and a half minutes.
A long two and a half minutes.
Beyond an occasional bob of her head, Evita makes no show of emotion. Theo, thankfully, is much less opaque. First, he raises his eyebrows at me. Then he mouths “Wow!” He’s probably at that set of arpeggios from the viola that melt under those big chords.
“What are you listening to?” Theo’s girlfriend, Lily Ann, asks as she sits down with her lunch tray.
Theo puts a finger up, telling her to wait.
When it’s over, Evita finally smiles. “Yes, Lacey. Absolutely. We should record it ASAP.”
“It’s great,” Theo says, throwing an arm around me and giving me a squeeze.
I can’t keep the smile from my face. “Awesome.”
“You nailed it,” Theo says as he stands and joins Lily Ann on the other side of the table.
“Can I listen?” Lily Ann asks.
“Of course,” I say with a forced smile.
“So, if we can record this today after school, we can send it in by Wednesday. Or even tomorrow. You know I don’t mind pulling an all-nighter,” Evita says.
“That’s not necessary,” I tell her. “Let’s just do it Saturday. We were going to rehearse other stuff this afternoon anyway, right?”

 

About the Author

 

 

Olivia Hinebaugh loves all stripes of literature for children. When she isn’t writing fiction, she can be found writing freelance, making art, discovering new songs on spotify, texting her writing buddies, or folding laundry. She lives near Washington, D.C. with her spouse, three kids, a dog that looks like a coyote, and a one-eyed cat. The Birds, The Bees, And You And Me is her debut novel.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

Giveaway

Giveaway details (US/CAN):
Print copy of The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review – Valiant

Title: Valiant
Author: Merrie Destefano
Published: December 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Rating: 1 Star
Cover: Like It

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Synopsis:

The Valiant was supposed to save us. Instead, it triggered the end of the world. Earth is in shambles. Everyone, even the poorest among us, invested in the Valiant’s space mining mission in the hope we’d be saved from ourselves. But the second the ship leaves earth’s atmosphere, our fate is sealed. The alien invasion begins. They pour into cities around the world through time portals, possessing humans, forcing us to kill one another. And for whatever reason, my brother is their number one target. Now the fate of the world lies in the hands of me, a seventeen-year-old girl, but with the help of my best friend, Justin–who’s suddenly starting to feel like more–maybe if we save my brother, we can save us all…

 

“We don’t talk about things that break our hearts.
But it doesn’t mean our hearts aren’t broken” (chapter 13)

Thank you Entangled Teen and Merry Destefano for a free eARC of this book in return for an honest review.

I had pretty high hopes for this book. I love seeing more sci-fi books in the YA genre, and the cover is exciting. However, I had issues from the first page, starting with the very short and repetitive sentences. There was nothing about the writing that was engaging.

In the beginning of Valiant, Sara watches the launch of the much anticipated Valiant ship to usher in the future everyone needs. After the celebrations of the coming future, the world is turned upside down with an alien invasion from the very planet the Valiant is headed to. Sara watches everyone in her life die, only to then be confronted by one of the aliens, who tells Sara that she needs to go back in time to save her brother, who will save the world.

I wish Sara didn’t travel through time. Maybe the alien could’ve come earlier to tell her what she needs to know about this horrible day–I’m thinking more along the lines of The Terminator. But there was a lot of inconsistencies and confusion and I’m not really sure why she has to KEEP mentioning that she has done this fifteen times and this timeline is different. It would be better and less repetitive if this wasn’t part of the plot at all–it doesn’t add anything. The Valiant’s launch is constantly regarded as the thing to end the world, but the plot isn’t very clear that it’s because of the mining trip, so I spent most of the book confused what they had to do with each other.

The concept could’ve been great, but it needs a lot of work to get there, tying up all the inconsistencies and focusing more on character development. Sara and Justin’s relationship is so flat, as well as the character development between the crew, that I didn’t feel engaged or really any emotion for them. I wanted so much more than I was given.

Book Review – Toxic

Title: Toxic
Author: Lydia Kang
Published: November 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned―one girl has been left behind.

Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.

When crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive―unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.

“Somewhere outside of Cyclo, stars are colliding, black holes are collapsing, and galaxies are being born. People are dying, and people are opening their eyes for the first time in their lives. But right now, Hana is the only thing in my universe” (chapter 20).

Thank you Entangled Teen and Lydia Kang for a free eARC of this book in return for an honest review.

Hana wakes up one day in the room she has never once left and realizes that everything is wrong, there is a world outside her door that is dying and she’s never had a chance to explore it because she was never meant to be. When a group of criminals are assigned to a death mission to document the death of this biological ship, the first of its kind, Hana realizes that all the knowledge she has acquired in her studies are no substitute for actual human interaction.

Fenn (goodness, I love his name!) has been enjoying the thrill of stealing since he was quite young, but this death mission is the push he needs to recognize how his lifestyle affects other people—a little too late. When he learns that the ship isn’t as empty as he was told, he discovers how to live, as he counts down the days until they die.

Young adult sci-fi lovers, get this book in your hands! Kang writes with such urgency, you can feel the emotions radiating off the page. Plus—it’s in space! As Hana and Fenn learn more about their biological ship’s abnormalities, as they learn more about each other, you can’t help but feel drawn to their charming personalities and their desperate search for meaning and fulfillment. Every moment that death looms closer, every secret unearthed, every refocus of perspective, every curve ball thrown into their plans—you’ll be hooked onto every word.

Book Tour/Review – The Fear of Falling

Title: The Fear of Falling
Author: Amanda Cowen
Published: October 2018
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Don’t Like It

FearofFalling

Synopsis:

When Ella Jones’ twenty-first birthday ends with a bang – literally – she never imagined it would be with her best friend since freshman year, Ryan Owen.

A year later, after their so called “mistake”, they’re still best friends and about to rock their Senior year at the University of San Francisco. But when Ryan returns from spending a summer in Australia and brings back a friend, Liam George, who takes an immediate liking to Ella, Ryan starts to question the Aussie’s intentions with his best friend. The trouble is, Ryan has a girlfriend of his own, and Ella and Ryan swore they would never cross that line again – until they do.

They try not to let their second slip up affect their friendship, but when Spring Break forces them to vacation under the same roof; and Ryan’s ex walks back into his life, Ella is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ella continues to see Liam, Ryan finds himself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship strained for the first time, Ella and Ryan face an alarming truth: Maybe they can’t be just friends. Maybe they are falling faster than expected. And maybe, deep down, they want to.

“Sometimes I hate how he knows me so well” (p. 52).

Thank you Amanda Cowen and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

College has a wonderful way of introducing you to people who become life-long friends. It’s been a topic on my mind for about a month now as I’ve realized that some of my closest friends have been in my life for seven or eight years now, and it’s all because we went to school and lived life on the same campus. I feel like it was perfect timing to pick up this book, which is filled with quirky friendships that stand the test of time. Most importantly, the friendship of Ella and Ryan, who will always be there for each other, who understand each other’s struggles and fears, and who most definitely will never ever be romantically involved…right?

Change is so scary, especially when it involves another person. When Ella and Ryan “accidentally” hook up on the night of her 21st birthday party, they’re forced to stare change right in the face, or run away. Running away sounds easier. Unfortunately, no matter how much they tell themselves that it was a one time thing and a mistake, no matter how many times they remind themselves that they work so well as best friends, things just aren’t the same. When other people start coming into the picture, both friends are forced to deal with surprising jealousy, and are forced to find a new normality between each other. Ryan was cocky as hell and it sometimes drove me crazy, but it all feels right in the end.

Cowen writes the most frustratingly slow of burns and I kept holding my breath to see what would happen next. I’m still pretty new to the NA genre, and some of those sex scenes had me blushing in public, but I’m a sucker for best-friend-to-lover stories because I’m living one. That panicky feeling of, “But this is going to change everything,” is all too familiar to me, and it always makes me smile, because I’ve learned that change can be great. Cowen does a great job of capturing the insecure thoughts and the displays of love for each other. I sometimes felt like yelling at the characters, but was eating up everything at the same time. You’ll definitely be rooting for these two.

Purchase Link:
Amazon

About the Author

Amanda Cowen can be found eating cupcakes, singing off-key, or watching a good RomCom when she isn’t trapped on her computer writing stories. She is an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fanatic, a hater of roller-coasters and a country music junkie. She lives in Thunder Bay, ON where the summers are short and the winters are long.

Amanda would love to hear from her readers. Become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Instagram @authoramandacowen, or follow her on Goodreads.

Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
$25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway