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 – 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
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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):
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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

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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

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

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