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/Blog Tour – Triplicity

Title: Triplicity
Author: J. Mercer
Published: January 2019
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

Triplicity

Synopsis:

One week on an Alaskan cruise, three teens, and an endless trail of lies.

Enter a series of thefts on board and they all fall under scrutiny. Though Navy acts a proper preacher’s daughter, she did end up with someone else’s purse in her hands, and Jesse knows way more than he should about what’s gone missing. Isaiah, however, is the one with motive—enough money and he could get back to his ranch. Each holds a piece of the truth, but exposing the thief could damn them all. They must navigate through the lies they’ve told, choose between standing together or saving themselves, and decide if innocence is worth facing their ugliest secrets.

*For readers of Kasie West and Jenny Han.*

“I guess that’s what I wanted to see next—real love…the kind that weathered storms” (Day 4).

Happy book birthday to J. Mercer’s Triplicity. Thank you Mercer, Bare Ink, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Don’t forget to click the banner above to follow the rest of the tour for reviews and excerpts.

Mercer’s writing uncovers a serious of thefts on a cruise ship with a delightful level of mystery, paired with lots of finger pointing to up the stakes. The three random teenagers—Navy, Jesse, and Isaiah—are thrown together through cruise events, endless flirting, and increasing suspicions. They all come with their own baggage, their own dreams, and their own motivations. Following their individual perspectives as the week on the ship unfolds adds the perfect amount of tension to the plot. I’m in love: with the characters who are more than meets the eye, with the plotting and the accusations, and with this wonderful storytelling that brings it all together. You will not want to be torn away from the events on the Triplicity cruise, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Purchase Link:
Amazon

About the Author

J. Mercer grew up in Wisconsin where she walked home from school with her head in a book, filled notebooks with stories in junior high, then went to college for accounting and psychology only to open a dog daycare. She wishes she were an expert linguist, is pretty much a professional with regards to competitive dance hair (bunhawk, anyone?), and enjoys exploring with her husband–though as much as she loves to travel, she’s also an accomplished hermit. Perfect days include cancelled plans, rain, and endless hours to do with what she pleases. Find her on Facebook @jmercerbooks or online at http://www.jmercerbooks.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

Giveaway

Giveaway details (INTL):
$25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – Sourpuss

Title: Sourpuss
Author: Merricat Mulwray
Published: January 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Comedy

Rating: 1 Star
Cover: Like it

sourpuss_5x8_front

Synopsis:

Sourpuss is a blistering satire of the depraved and entitled culture that pervades college campuses.

Mallory Wahl loathes the campus party scene…

She’s sprinting through her senior year obsessed with winning a spot on the US Olympic track team. But she runs straight into a hurdle in the form of a fraternity president Graham Patterson, an intern assigned to help her recover from an injury – one she blames on him.

Once Graham’s therapies begin to work, Mallory pretends to fall in love but traps herself in her own scheme and tailspins deep into his debauched world. When a scandal erupts which threatens to shatter her Olympic dreams once and for all, Mallory must finally face the dark truth she’s been running from since freshman year.

In the style of a ’90s dark comedy flick, Merricat Mulwray’s debut brings an insightful and humorous perspective to the reckless behavior college students perpetually get away with. Mallory, herself a flawed heroine, is backed by a self-serving cast of athletes, party girls, townies, and fraternity brothers so hilariously dark that they book will leave you wondering if anyone ever gets what they deserve.

“But when she looked around at the thousands of people cheering in the stands, what she felt most was alone” (chapter 25).

Thank you Merricat Mulwray, Haigh 38 Press, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. You can check out an excerpt of the book here.

There is potential for a story here: one where the cynical girl with big dreams learns that the people she steps on to rise to success are the very people she needs, and one that addresses rape culture on college campuses. But I left this story confused.

It’s very apparent that Mulwray gets inspirations from movies like Heathers, and it’s clear that they are writing in this vein, but it falls short by a long shot. All of the characters are awful, none of them having redeeming qualities. This is intentional. However, the characters aren’t developed or fleshed out enough for the reader to connect with them at all through their horrible personalities. What’s keeping us attached to this book? There is also no dark comedy at play here, which is how the book is advertised. It’s just dark, poorly written, and lacking editing.

The transitions were frequently missing, which caused me to have trouble following the plot. There were many moments where I would stop and say, “But how did we get here?” or “Why is this character randomly different?” The narrative also changes from Mallory’s perspective to literally everyone else’s 14 chapters in: another element to the overall confusion. Why did we even need Wesley’s perspective? He is a side character and his perspective doesn’t add a single thing to the story except continue to make you disgusted at all the characters. If the change of perspective is absolutely necessary,  which I don’t believe it is, two perspectives is all we need. The backstory on characters was just thrown in haphazardly and many times wasn’t needed, or could’ve been introduced better. The “character growth” didn’t make sense nor was it believable. I had a hard time finishing this.

Sourpuss needs a lot of work. I was excited to enter a world modeled after ’90s dark comedy, but left it with a nasty taste in my mouth and feeling very disconnected with the story.

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

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

Rating: 1 Star
Cover: Like it

birdsbees

Synopsis:

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

But then everything changes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Tour – Sourpuss

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

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

sourpuss_5x8_front

Synposis:

Sourpuss is a blistering satire of the depraved and entitled culture that pervades college campuses.

Mallory Wahl loathes the campus party scene . . .

She’s sprinting through her senior year obsessed with winning a spot on the US Olympic track team. But she runs straight into a hurdle in the form of fraternity president Graham Patterson, an intern assigned to help her recover from an injury – one she blames on him.

Once Graham’s therapies begin to work, Mallory pretends to fall in love but traps herself in her own scheme and tailspins deep into his debauched world. When a scandal erupts which threatens to shatter her Olympic dreams once and for all, Mallory must finally face the dark truth she’s been running from since freshman year.

In the style of a ’90s dark comedy flick, Merricat Mulwray’s debut brings an insightful and humorous perspective to the reckless behavior college students perpetually get away with. Mallory, herself a flawed heroine, is backed by a self-serving cast of athletes, party girls, townies, and fraternity brothers so hilariously dark that the book will leave you wondering if anyone ever gets what they deserve.

Goodreads / Amazon

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

 


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

Website / Goodreads / Instagram / Twitter

 

Giveaway

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

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

birdsbees

Synopsis:

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

But then everything changes.

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

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Excerpt

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

 

About the Author

 

 

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

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

Giveaway

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway