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/Blog Tour – The Game Can’t Love You Back

Happy book birthday to The Game Can’t Love You Back by Karole Cozzo! I LOVED this baseball romance and it’s spunky characters! Click the banner below to follow the rest of the tour. Read on to hear my review–thank you Xpresso Book Tours, Swoon Reads, and Karole Cozzo for my eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


 

 

Title: The Game Can’t Love You Back
Author: Karole Cozzo
Published: May 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

game

Synopsis:

Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s focused on one thing and one thing only—being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her high school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He can’t afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher—even worse, to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?

“And maybe if you’d pull your head out of your ass and stop feeling so personally offended by everything I do, you’d see that. You’d see that I love the game every bit as much as you do and deserve to be out there, too.” (chapter 9)

Why haven’t I been reading more sports romances? I think this every time I pick one up. I am a big fan of baseball, especially going to see games in person. However, not growing up in a sports-sleeping-eating-breathing family, I’m actually still learning every time I go to a game. I was THRILLED to discover that I understood every single term and phrase in this book aside from one, which I obviously looked up so NOW I know it–haha. Knowing the game made me feel way more immersed into the book, however, the terms and phrases weren’t overly confusing, so someone who isn’t as familiar with the game could still enjoy this story just as much!

The thing I love most about sports romance novels and sports movies is the passion and drive behind dedicated athletes. The inspiration that builds up seeing the characters work hard for something. It fills me with pride every single time. The thing I love most about hate-to-love romances (which it is very clear that this story is from the beginning) is seeing the characters learn about each other in a way that they wouldn’t have if they didn’t get under each other’s skin, and learning that they actually like these aspects they discover.

A theme throughout the book, which is highlighted in the title, is what love looks like, and how it looks different for different things and people. There is a raw honesty to Eve’s desire to fill her life with her passion and love for the game so that she doesn’t have to explore the confusing and sometimes tricky path of loving a person who may or may not feel the same way. Cozzo does a great job of showing Eve’s internal struggle with where to put her heart and whether it would be worth it to put it somewhere that may hurt.

Eve is perfectly stubborn, driven, and works her ass off. Jamie is the same, which causes tension, especially given that she is a girl on his baseball team. But they both learn to open up and let the other person in–discovering that they can no longer be the person that they once were. The competitive setting for this story is PERFECT for highlighting both character’s strengths and weaknesses, plus it just makes everything way more fun. The sparring and banter between the two will have you smiling like an idiot the whole time. The character growth and inspirational drive will grow your heart three sizes, even if you’re a Grinch. I am looking forward to read Cozzo’s other work.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

About the Author

Author Bio:

Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

Giveaway

GIVEAWAY:
Print copy of The Game Can’t Love You Back

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Interview with Shaila Patel

TODAY IS THE OFFICIAL RELEASE OF SOULMATED, BOOK #1 IN THE JOINING OF THE SOULS SERIES!

I’m excited. Are you excited? You need to get your hands on this fun book ASAP. To feed my own excitement (and yours!) the author, Shaila Patel, agreed to do an interview with me because she spoils me rotten. *wink* Shaila is such a sweet, spunky soul who makes everyone around her feel loved. It only makes sense that she likes to write about love when she’s so good at showing it. She also is insanely creative and silly—I accidentally left my umbrella with her last I saw her, and she’s named it and probably developed some backstory to go with it.

Want to know more about the book? Check out my review here!
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

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Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?


Without further ado, I give you Shaila Patel!

Are there areas that you see yourself in Lucky? 

Most definitely. It would be next to impossible not to slip snippets of my younger life into Lucky (Laxshmi’s nickname)—being that we’re both first generation Indian-American. While our exact experiences are nothing alike, I grew up in a strict household where I didn’t feel I had any choices. That’s pretty much a hallmark of young adult fiction, though, isn’t it? And it’s also a theme that runs through Soulmated: craving the freedom to make your own choices in life and accepting the consequences when you do.

How did your own experiences as an Indian American shape how you wrote Lucky?

It became a well of inspiration to be honest. Thinking of (maybe even dredging up!) my own experiences and those of my friends’ wasn’t always easy because I had to understand and empathize with both Lucky and her mom to do their characters justice. Lucky wouldn’t be Lucky without her mother’s influence, after all. The funny thing is, I feel there’s a lot of my current self in Moira in this book and in book 2.

What kind of research did you have to do for Liam’s character and his family’s heritage? How did you manage to make him so swoon-worthy?

Whenever you write outside your own experience, it takes a lot of research to get it even close to being right. I’ve made two trips to Ireland, and while that’s hardly enough to capture the Irish culture and heritage, my focus in writing Liam remained on capturing the emotional authenticity of someone his age while plagued with familial and cultural expectations. I did a lot of research in the Irish-English syntax and grammar and even hired an Irish editor to help with that. I suspect writing from Liam’s point of view will be a challenge throughout the series, and so the research will continue. And as with any culture, a monolithic representation never does it justice. Irish culture, like Indian culture, can vary from region to region, and I hope to keep learning as the series progresses.

As for making him swoon-worthy, I’m not sure how I managed that! Lol! I know that during revisions I had to pay a lot of attention to his character growth and development. An early editor had beat it into my brain (in a good way!) that I had to settle on what type of hero he was going to be before I continued. She was right. He was a hot mess at first, and when I sat down with my characterization goals for him, I realized I didn’t want to make him perfect—that was too easy and too boring—but I did want him to be relatable. (And it doesn’t hurt that I personally think he’s gorgeous! Lol!)

How did writing from two perspectives differ than writing from one narrative?

Good question! I had to pay a TON of attention to voice—and Liam’s Irish-English did not make that any easier. Sometimes I had to re-read a previous chapter of Liam’s to get back into the cadence of his language. But voice isn’t just about word choice. It’s also about the gender of the character and how s/he thinks. It’s even about their external influences affecting their thought processes and reactions. It wasn’t always easy, but nothing hit that point home like when I had to change a chapter into the other character’s point of view. It was amazing how little things had to change to compensate for a new narrator.

So this next book – I know I’m waiting anxiously. Will Lucky and Liam have all their questions answered?

Ah! I can’t give that away, can I??? Let’s just say, I’m a firm believer in happily-ever-afters, but a resolved romance in book 2 of a 4 book series would kill the story! I can say this, however: their relationship takes a significant step forward and many little steps backward. I hate to be vague, but you’ll just have to wait for book 2!

Thanks for having me!


SHAILA PATEL

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As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever- after, Shaila’s younger self would finish reading Cinderella and fling her copy across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, and teas, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online at: http://www.shailapatelauthor.com
 
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