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.

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.

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Giveaway

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$25 Amazon gift card

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Book Tour/Review – Hot Pursuit

Title: Hot Pursuit (To Catch a Thief #1)
Author: Kay Marie
Published: August 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: Don’t Like It

HotPursuit

Synopsis:

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days meets White Collar in this sassy and sweet romantic comedy, new from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie.

All Jolene Carter has ever wanted is a bakery of her own. There’s only one problem. Her father, Robert Carter, is a world-renowned art thief and she’s, well, sort of his protégé. But he’s promised her this next job in New York will be their last, and she won’t let anyone get in the way of her dreams…especially not the distractingly delicious FBI agent hot on her tail.

Agent Nate Parker has been on the Robert Carter case for years, and if rumors of the aging criminal’s retirement are true, this might be his last chance to nail him. With the legacy of his late father in the back of his mind, the stakes are more personal than anyone realizes. He won’t let anything stand in the way of justice…especially not the red-headed vixen who keeps giving him the slip.

He’s a cop who’d never bend. She’s a con who’ll never break. But all’s fair in love and larceny…

“But there was a different kind of glory to be found in the shades of gray. A different kind of beauty, if he’d just open his eyes and see, if he’d only let her show him” (p. 216)

Happy book birthday to Hot Pursuit by Kay Marie! Thank you Kay Marie and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Jolene and Nate’s story is sassy, sexy, and funny. Jolene has a way of getting under Nate’s skin and screwing up his perfectly organized, black and white world. If only she could stop playing with him for a day, maybe he’ll finally be able to pin all her family’s crimes on them.

Jolene never asked for the criminal life and she’s starting to learn that there’s more at play in this game that she thought. All she wants in life is to be able to create new bakery inventions and open her own bakery, but with everything she’s done for her father, will that dream ever become tangible?

Kay Marie writes a fast-paced, fun story where the lines between good guy and bad guy get blurred, and the only way either can win is by letting go of the things that give them those titles. I enjoyed learning about Jolene and Nate’s individual stories, and how it brought them to where they are today. While the characters were enjoyable, I found the writing lacking. Kay Marie uses short, abrupt, and even repetitive sentences to add to the drama, but they are used so liberally in this book that I started to get annoyed. I found myself reading faster to find out what happened, but also to marinate in the writing as little as possible. The story was fun, I just wish it was better written.

Purchase Link:

Amazon

About the Author

Kaitlyn Davis, a bestselling author with over a quarter of a million books sold, writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie. Publishers Weekly has said, “Davis writes with confidence and poise,” while USA Today has recommended her work as “must-read romance.”

Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she’s not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found playing fetch with her puppy, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family. If you have any questions for her–about her books, about scheduling an event, or just in general–you may contact her at: KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com

Sign up for Kaitlyn’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with all of her new releases, to receive exclusive subscriber bonus content, and more!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Giveaway

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Book Review – How to Breath Underwater

 

Title: How to Breathe Underwater
Author: Vicky Skinner
Published: August 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Breathe

Synopsis:

Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she’s been a part of her whole life.

Now in a new home, new school, and faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.

As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?

“Michael didn’t expect anything from me. My father, my mother, even Lily, they all expected something from me, whether I was ready to give it or not. But Michael just looked at me like he was waiting. He was waiting to see what I would do next, what I would say next, who I would be in the next ten minutes” (p. 90).

Thank you Vicky Skinner, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After Kate’s father successfully ruins Kate’s life by getting caught cheating by the WHOLE swim team, Kate’s mother moves them out to Seattle to be close to her college-age sister, Lily. Not only does Kate need to deal with a wave of hurt, she also needs to get used to a new city, a new school, and being away from her best friend. Can anyone do that gracefully? Luckily, Kate’s mom is one of those people persons and has made friends with people in their building before they’re even unpacked–including this super cute boy named Michael.

Michael from the get-go is kind and funny. Even though Kate’s mom has already told him everything anyone needs to know about Kate, he still wants to know more and really invests in her. He’s one of those characters that radiates sunshine and you just can’t be sad when he’s in the scene. Unfortunately, his life presents it’s own set of challenges, specifically his mother, who’s cough just keeps getting worse and worse.

It’s clear that Kate and Michael deal with their struggles in different ways–Kate is angry at her dad and scared of life without swimming, terrified of learning how to breath again. She tries to make the most of her situation by making friends, but her emotions are fairly close to the surface. Michael pushes his emotions down, instead focusing on being positive and having fun. As they wrestle through the hand life has dealt them, I loved seeing it shape who they are, how to support each other, and how they feel about each other. My heart couldn’t get anymore full.

While Kate has a lot of anger and lashes out sometimes, I found all the characters to be redeeming and show positive growth. Skinner’s writing is captivating and uplifting, while still facing the conflicts head-on. Everything about this book is feel-good and I’m all about it.

Purchase Links:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

About the Author

Born and raised in Texas, I don’t act like much of a Texan. I like cold weather and hate country music. I have a gorgeous husband, two dogs, and a Literature degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. If I’m not at home reading a book or doing laundry, I’m probably at the bookstore, nannying three rambunctious boys, or stuck on the side of the road with car trouble. I’m a reader, a writer, and a bit of a crazy person.

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Giveaway

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Print copy of How to Breathe Underwater