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.

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

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

 

Looking at the Artists Behind the Book Covers

Who judges books by their covers? *tentatively raises own hand* If you think about it, from a marketing standpoint, it’s totally natural to be drawn to something that is presented better than another. Books that are released with the whole package are way more exciting than ones with disappointing covers. Plus, I grew up in a very artistic-centered family, so a cover that disappoints is significantly less likely to be picked up than one that’s well done. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the correlation between what a cover looks like and the probability that you’d pick it up to read or buy. Are covers important to you?

As I spend more time in the bookstagram community, working with authors and publishers, and writing reviews, I’ve noticed a growing trend of cover revels for upcoming titles. Cover reveals help cultivate more excitement over an upcoming book and the author’s work, but most of the time I’ve noticed that there is no recognition for or mention of the artist who created the cover. To me, that’s just ridiculous. Why create hype over a piece of art without crediting the artists who made it? We credit the author and the publisher, but often times the artist gets completely overlooked for their contribution, unless they’re a big name like Jim Kay. I wanted to take some time today to show you some beautiful covers and let you know who made them. I hope you enjoy! Let me know which are your favorites in the comments.


CLASSICS

catcher-in-the-ryeThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Artist: E. Michael Mitchell

TheGreatGatsby_1925jacketThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Artist: Francis Cugat

61aqO0sPF+L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Artist: J.R.R. Tolkein

LITERARY FICTION

51Ok9FmXxbLExes by Max Winter
Designer: Strick&Williams
Illustrator: Zohar Lazar

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tart.pngThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Designer: Keith Hayes
Artist: Carel Fabritius

22237161The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Designer: Rodrigo Corral
Illustrator: Matt Buck

Wolf_in_White_VanWolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Designer: Abby Kagan

FANTASY

039360909xNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Artist: Sam Weber

SCI-FI/FANTASTY

Annihilation_by_jeff_vandermeerAnnihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
Designer: Abby Kagan

9781101873786The Vorrh by B. Catling
Designer: Jaclyn Whalen

PaperGirls_Vol01-1.pngPaper Girls by Brian Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang & Matt Wilson

9780316261241_p0_v3_s1200x630 by Ben H. Winters
Designer: Oliver Munday

vermilion-cov300.jpgVermilion: The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp by Molly Tanzer
Designer: Osiel Gòmez
Artist: Dalton Rose

THRILLER/HORROR

51fLeSBiAuLGet in Trouble by Kelly Link
Designer: Caroline Cunningham

1501143107.1.zoomMisery by Stephen King
Designer: Will Staehle

Rant_by_Chuck_PalahniukRant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk
Designer: Michael Collica

29939268.jpgUniversal Harvester by John Darnielle
Designer: Abby Kagan

51xmzRflX5LWe Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
Designer: Maria Carella

NON-FICTION

519sg-ItOaLThe Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
Designer: Matt Dorfman
Art Director: Helen Yentus

NEW ADULT

AnimalThe Animal Under the Fur by E.J. Mellow
Designer: E.J. Mellow
Typography: Dan Covert

YA CONTEMPORARY

28504676Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Designer: Kristin Logsdon

18718848Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Artist: Eileen Savage

28588459Sill Life with Tornado by A.S. King
Designer: Kristin Logsdon

25372971Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin
Artist: Jill De Haan

9780525425892We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Designer: Samira Iravani
Artist: Adams Carvalho

YA HISTORICAL FICTION

23719270Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Artist: Teagan White

YA MYSTERY

Wink_poppy_midnight_book_coverWink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Designer: Nancy R. Leo-Kelly

YA FANTASY

31369411The Graces by Laura Eve
Designer: Maria T. Middleton
Artist: Spencer Charles

9780399538537Tales of Peculiar by Random Riggs
Artist: Andrew Davidson


12180226Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
Designer: Sheila Smallwood
Artist: Evan B. Harris


Thanks to my brother, Dylan, for helping me with this special blog post. Check out his artwork HERE

Blog Tour – Lose Me.

Welcome to the last stop in the Lose Me. blog tour! If you haven’t been following along, you can start at the beginning with Shoshi Reads OR you can go BACKWARDS and start with the stop before mine, Mountains of Rain & Sun. I’m happy that you’ve joined me for my interview with the author, M.C. Frank. First, let’s take a quick look at what this book is about:

Title: Lose Me.
Author: M.C. Frank
Release Date: April 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

losemecover

Synopsis:

Jane Austen meets New Adult fiction in this compulsively readable romance.

“Today is not the day I die.”

Ari Demos starts every day with this thought. Fresh out of high school, she’s landed a coveted role as a stunt double in a new Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring the Hollywood phenomenon Weston Spencer. But this job isn’t going to be easy: Ari will be performing complicated water stunts and driving fast cars along the narrow cliffs of Corfu. One false step and she could lose not only her job, but her life.

And then Wes Spencer, Mr Darcy himself, arrives in Greece. He’s got dirty blonde hair, a mile-long yacht and a bored look on that gorgeous face. Ari wants nothing to do with the rich actor boy, but on the day she meets him, she has an accident. One that almost claims her life. And now she can’t hide from the truth any longer:
She might be much closer to losing everything than she thought. She might be dying. And the British actor is the last person she’d expect to save her life.

She’s a hard-working island girl. He’s adored by millions.
Falling in love was never supposed to be a part of the job.
Staying alive was never supposed to be a part of growing up.

Was this story ever meant for a happily ever after?

I was fortunate to receive an Advanced Readers Copy from the author before the release. You can check out my review here.

Blog Post Header

Tell me a little bit about your writing process – how do you get the characters and their stories onto the page?

  • It’s not that exciting if you look at it. The good stuff happens inside my head. I just sit down at my laptop and write! I take it everywhere with me, desk, bed, couch… and I just tap away. That’s pretty much it. Most of the book has been “written” before I start typing, however. It’s been already created in my head as well as fully outlined, and, of course, there’s a great deal of research that needs to be done beforehand, too.

What are your favorite books and authors? How do you feel like they influence your writing?

  • We could be here all day, but here’s a few: I love Jane Eyre, and I think it’s a pure work of genius. But I also love everything by Dickens and Shakespeare. From more modern writers, Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man is my all time favorite, and it actually inspired my sci-fi series No Ordinary Star. From YA fiction I would definitely pick Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, because feels.

Tell me some about your Greek background and how that influenced this book?

  • My father’s mom was originally from Corfu, and there’s a lot of her in Ari’s grandma –although Ari’s grandma is based on both of my grandmothers. I have spent several summers on that island, and I’m so proud of the heritage I carry from those kind, talented and wonderful people. I love how they express themselves through music and song, and how kind they are to strangers. But I also love the beauty of the place, the wildness, the color, the water. When I first thought of Lose Me taking place in Corfu, I knew the setting would be almost as much a ‘character’ in the story as the protagonists. And it did turn out to be the perfect backdrop for the movie Wes and Ari are shooting, as well as…for some other things. (wink)

What has been the most fun book for you to write so far? The most challenging?

  • Lose Me has been by far the most challenging, because I had to do a ton of research on stunts and stunt performers. But the hard work paid off in the end. The most fun book to write was Ruined. I just love Regency, I have been reading Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and all the other amazing writers of the genre since I was a teen, so it just flowed naturally for me.

What projects are you working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for? Any new books?

  • I have already planned and outlined a lot more books in the Lose Me universe. So if you’ve got a favorite side character, it’s more than probably they will be getting their own book soon! Next is Theo’s, I believe. But deep down, it’s Pan’s story I’m swooning over. Can you imagine a girl that could make a guy like that actually fall for her? Yeah, me neither. We’ll see how that goes.

In Lose Me. you have references to social media outlets and articles between the chapters. How has Tumblr and Instagram helped you as an author?

  • On tumblr and instagram I have found some of the most amazing readers ever, and met my best friend. I have no idea where I would be without them. Also, I think social media is a reality of our lives, and it would hardly be realistic to write a book about young people without taking into consideration how much of their time is spent on the Internet.

Without any spoilers, what was the most exciting part of writing this book?

  • Oh, the stunt sequences, no doubt. I loved researching and coming up with those. Writing them was so challenging, I had to pick every word carefully, but it was completely worth it!

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M.C. FRANK has been living in a world of stories ever since she can remember. She started writing them down when she could no longer stand the characters in her head screaming at her to give them life.

In her books, characters find themselves in icy-cold dystopian worlds where kissing is forbidden (among other things), or in green forests ruled by evil Sheriffs.

Recently she got her university degree in physics and is now free to pursue her love of reading and writing, as well as her freelance job of editor-in-chief. She currently lives with her husband in a home filled with candles, laptops and notebooks, where she rearranges her overflowing bookshelves every time she feels stressed.

She loves to connect with book lovers and other writers on social media. She’s found the most amazing friends and readers on tumblr and instagram, and they are what keeps her going when things get rough.

Connect with her on social media for awesome giveaways and free copies of her books! She would also love to talk to you about anything writing or publishing related.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

Buy the Book: Amazon

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One lucky reader will win a finished paperback copy of Lose Me!
Will run from April 11th to May 11th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lose Me. – Book Review

Title: Lose Me. (ARC)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: April 11th, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance 

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like It

losemecover
Synopsis:

Jane Austen meets New Adult fiction in this compulsively readable romance.

“Today is not the day I die.”

Ari Demos starts every day with this thought. Fresh out of high school, she’s landed a coveted role as a stunt double in a new Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring the Hollywood phenomenon Weston Spencer. But this job isn’t going to be easy: Ari will be performing complicated water stunts and driving fast cars along the narrow cliffs of Corfu. One false step and she could lose not only her job, but her life.

And then Wes Spencer, Mr Darcy himself, arrives in Greece. He’s got dirty blonde hair, a mile-long yacht and a bored look on that gorgeous face. Ari wants nothing to do with the rich actor boy, but on the day she meets him, she has an accident. One that almost claims her life. And now she can’t hide from the truth any longer:
She might be much closer to losing everything than she thought. She might be dying. And the British actor is the last person she’d expect to save her life.

She’s a hard-working island girl. He’s adored by millions.
Falling in love was never supposed to be a part of the job.
Staying alive was never supposed to be a part of growing up.

Was this story ever meant for a happily ever after?

“The truth is, people don’t survive alone. And they certainly don’t thrive alone.” – p. 312

I recently received an advanced readers copy of Lose Me. from the author, M.C. Frank. I absolutely adored her No Ordinary Star series (reviews here and here), so I was pretty excited to hear that she had written something new and a little bit different. This is primarily why I picked up this book, whereas I would otherwise tend to stay away from NA Romance books. It seems that so many NA books out there have uncomfortable covers with shirtless guys, sometimes sensually grabbing onto a girl as if their life depended on it. What’s inside doesn’t get much more engaging. I’ve only read a couple books under this category, but the ones I have read or flipped through are filled with sex and sexual tension from beginning to end. Honestly, I’d rather not spend my time reading about the sex lives of flat characters. However, since I already know and love Frank’s writing, I decided to give it a shot. The first thing that told me this book would be different was the cover. Come on, guys—just look at that cover! It is way more inviting, creative, and well done than most novels in this genre. How could you skip over this beauty? Plus, the inside gets better! Once I picked it up to read, I cursed every distraction and responsibility that forced me to put it back down again.

Lose Me. is written in a carefree, conversational way as if Ari, our main girl, were sitting down with you, fingers curled around a mug of coffee, telling you all about her life. The story takes place primarily in Greece, with some appearances in New York and England. The descriptions of Greece are gorgeous and gave me a sense of wanderlust. I felt almost like I was there and had been there before, even though I’ve never even left the US in my life. The country’s beauty was captivating and felt like home. Frank, who is Greek herself, did a wonderful job of cultivating her sense of home and conveying that through her writing.

Without getting into spoilers, the middle of the book didn’t grab me as much as the as the rest, but I genuinely cared so much about the characters that I felt a sense of urgency to continue reading. I could feel the pain the characters were going through during some of the conflict and this pushed me on. I sometimes found myself wanting to yell at poor decisions made and tuck the characters in my pocket to keep them safe. Another disappointing aspect was that it felt like the book was rushed in the editing stages. Some scenes went on for a long time and were repetitive, and some of the edits just felt like they could’ve been better. Other than these two aspects, I loved this read.

A huge theme throughout this book is trust. Who should we trust our entire life with and when is it okay to not know? Everything Ari goes through boils down to this discovery: people need people. I absolutely love this and would smile (I’d say internally, but who knows what actually goes on with my face when I’m immersed in a book) every time Ari realized that she needed the support that the people around her are trying to freely give more than she needs to protect them and their emotions or to protect herself. You go, girl. Stop thinking so selfishly about yourself and let people love you. After all, how boring would life be if we didn’t have people near to our hearts to share it with, the joys and the trials? Life is much more rich when you have people to experience it with you, to encourage you, to challenge you, and to hold your hand when things get scary. “People don’t survive alone” (p. 312).