The Inevitable (Almost Annual) Hiatus

Greetings, y’all.

It’s that time of year again where I start to feel extremely overwhelmed and I need to make some decisions to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety roaring in my head. At this time, that means I’m going to be stepping away from this blog for the next little while. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.

Since starting my new job, I’ve been gifted so many wonderful, amazing opportunities to grow and foster my career in ways that I never would have been able to imagine. I’m getting to live in and explore a city that I’ve lusted after since I was a young child. Most importantly of all, I’m finally able to start my life together with a person that makes my heart sing arias, each more beautiful than the last. With so much happening, I’m finding myself having less and less time to keep up with this blog in the way I’d like to see it heading.

I may be back here in the future, who knows. But you will still be able to find me on Instagram, Twitter, and — of course — Goodreads. (I might also make an AO3 account and throw up some fanfic.)

Thanks for sticking it out with me. I appreciate all of the love and support. I hope we can hang soon.

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[Blog Tour & Review] One S’more Summer – Beth Merlin

One S’more Summer
Beth Merlin
(The Campfire Series, #1)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: May 30th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary

If you love Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin, you’ll love this heartwarming debut from a fresh voice in contemporary chick-lit that offers a lighthearted and fun take on friendship, love, and how to recover from past mistakes.

For twenty long years, Gigi Goldstein has been pining away for her best friend’s guy. She knows it’s wrong and it has to stop, but she hasn’t been able to let go ever since they all met on the bus to summer camp back when they were 7 years old. The same week that her best friends finally announce their wedding date, Gigi loses her high-profile design job. With all of her dreams unravelling, she runs to the last place she remembers being happy.

Taking the Head Counselor position at Camp Chinooka, Gigi hopes to reclaim the joy she felt as a camper, but the job isn’t all campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Gigi’s girls are determined to make her look bad in front of the boys’ Head Counselor—the sexy but infuriating Perry—and every scrap of the campground is laced with memories.

When Gigi finally realizes she can’t escape the present by returning to her past, she’s forced to reexamine her life and find the true meaning of love. But will she be able to mend fences and forgive herself before she loses her one real shot at happiness?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.

Website / Facebook / Twitter


Review:

With summer firmly upon us, it’s time to bust out the sunscreen, the beach towels and, of course, the light and fluffy lakeside-appropriate summer romance novels. While a lot of the other “beach read” romances I’ve read as of late fall firmly in the “formulaic and predictable” category, One S’More Summer is one of those rare finds that is a delightful departure — for the most part. I’m honestly quite impressed it came from a first time author, Beth Merlin.

After losing the love of her life and her illustrious fashion design job, Gigi Goldstein feels as if she has no choice but to get the hell out of New York City — at least for the summer. Instead of following in her parents’ footsteps to run to the Hamptons, she finds herself acting as Head Counselor for the very summer camp in which she grew up, Camp Chinooka. While there, she’s forced to confront her heartbreak, her creative block, and, ultimately, her pig-headed co-counselor, Perry. You know how they say all clouds have a silver lining? She just might find hers in this summery exile.

I’ve found myself flying through this book quicker as of late than I have other books of similar length; there’s just something about the way in which Merlin has chosen to tell this tale. While I’m generally not a fan of flashing back and forth in time when telling a story, especially a romance, I find that it’s actually one of the most logical methods of sharing her experiences before and after the calamity that had become her personal life. Furthermore, I actually enjoy that Gigi — while we are not explicitly told is Jewish — is clearly coded as such, which seems to be uncommon in contemporary fiction. I’m all about some positive representation, y’all. We also have some other campers of color — like fellow counselor Jordana — that get a huge amount of time in the spotlight, which I enjoyed.

My one gripe, however, is the standard quasi-tsundere attitude that Gigi initially takes with Perry throughout the first chunk of the novel. This book has a lot going for it that takes it out of the norm of the usual contemporary romance — mostly in the fact that it’s well-written — but I wish that Gigi didn’t cross so often into the realm of stereotypical leading lady-dom. Can’t we just have a romance novel where the main couple gradually falls in love with each other naturally, without this bullshit will-they-or-won’t-they-stop-hating-each-other nonsense?

All irks aside, though, because this is a good example of what contemporary romances should be: fun, light-hearted, and not overly serious. It’s always a struggle to find cute books like these nowadays that don’t take themselves so seriously, but I’m glad that Beth Merlin has taken the time to flesh out something that feels mostly real.


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[Blog Tour & Excerpt] Corruption of the Heart – Jessica Manson

Corruption of the Heart
Jessica Manson
Publication date: January 3rd 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Lilith Carson was a normal girl whose parents died suddenly. She moves to a different state with her aunt, and she cuts herself off from everyone. Until one day, when her crush appears beside her in the library. From there, they fall in love, fast and hard.

Lilith finds out that when she turns eighteen, she will transform into a Vampire-Witch hybrid. When a vampire conceives a female, that female already has a mate chosen for her. When Lilith was conceived, there was a mistake. Her world is turned upside down when she must choose between two guys she barely knows.

Lilith has chosen the guy of her dreams and has settled into a life that she thinks is perfect. But nothing is ever as it seems. She will soon face the ultimate betrayal by someone she loves deeply.

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Author Bio:

Jessica started writing when she was 10 years old. She started out writing poetry which has been published in several Poetry Society books as well as on the Internet. She won the Publisher’s Choice Award for her poem A Lost Soul. She has always had an addiction to reading which is what lead her to become an author. Her debut book is Corruption of the Heart.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter


Excerpt:

There was just something about him that makes my insides flip around. He makes me smile finally. I haven’t smiled in a very long time. And he makes me feel safe when I am with him. He makes me feel things I have never felt before.

I could lose myself in his eyes and not even realize the time lost. They were so big and beautiful. The glowing bright green color was magical, mythical even. The slightest touch of his hand sent the most powerful surge of electricity through my body. He made me want him in ways I have never wanted anyone before. He makes my breath catch and causes my knees to go weak with just a look or a simple touch.

I laid there thinking of the things I wanted to do to him until he was standing in front of me. Odin walked over to the bed and pulled me up to stand in front of him. He aggressively pulled my shirt off revealing my black and red lace bra once more. He unbuttoned my pants letting them fall to my feet. He pulled his shirt off letting me gaze at his ripped chest and a gasp of excitement slipped from me when my eyes landed on the particular spot where those v things were.

Stepping out of my jeans I ran my fingers across his chest feeling his toned muscles until I reached his back. I couldn’t help myself and dug my nails into the flesh of his back just enough to show him the hunger I had for him. His breath quickened and he threw me back onto the bed. I opened my legs up to him as he climbed on top of me. I invited him to get closer to me than anyone else ever has. Heat radiated from the both of us and traces of tingles lingered in the places on my body that he touched.

His chest was firm and smooth and ripped in all the right places. I traced my fingers down each one of his abs until the landed on the rim of his jeans. I grabbed them and pulled on them bringing him closer to me. I wanted him. I needed him. My hunger only grew until I just about couldn’t stand it anymore.

He ran his fingers across the bottom of my stomach causing a small tickle and a giggle left my throat. He pulled away and stared at me for a moment before saying, “You are more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, lamia mea.”


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[Blog Tour & Excerpt] Phoebe Pope Series – Nya Jade

The Year of Four
Nya Jade
(Phoebe Pope, #1)
Publication date: October 28th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

The students of Green Lane Academy roam their halls unaware that below their manicured campus exists a prestigious school of an entirely different kind . . .

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath the grounds of a boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, thanks to a carefully planned schedule, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teenager Above.

As if two course loads, concealing a secret power she alone wields, and coping with her father’s recent death weren’t enough, Phoebe finds herself developing major feelings for actor and teen heartthrob Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning Phoebe’s heart. But when officials learn that Phoebe may be at the center of a startling prophecy, she becomes the target of shape-shifting assassins who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.

Now Phoebe’s lessons about Shaper’s enemies and spycraft take on great importance as a menace stalks the campus, with Phoebe as its target. Meanwhile, what began as an unlikely relationship with Colten, quickly morphs into heartache when she suspects that something sinister lurks beneath this movie star’s glitter and fame. Suddenly, Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger where she doesn’t know who to trust, and needs to rely on herself—and her secret power—to get to the truth and to stay alive.

The Blood of Kings
Nya Jade
(Phoebe Pope, #2)
Publication date: April 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

According to the press, Phoebe Pope and teen movie star Colten Chase are no longer an item—which is just how the happy new couple like it. And yet there’s trouble in paradise . . .

Phoebe is haunted by dreams that show her things she can’t possibly know about—including a pact between Colten and a wanted assassin. In the daylight, she struggles to keep a newly emerging power hidden, even as her hands itch to wield it.

Meanwhile, in the wake of their escape from a Vigo crèche, Phoebe and her fellow Hyphas study under lock and key at the Campus Below. As the foursome wait to see who among them will fulfill the prophecy, someone dear to Phoebe is kidnapped by a powerful Vigo determined to use her to spy on the Shaper royalty. When the Hyphas are called to the Royal Court, Phoebe refuses to heed warnings of imminent danger for she will do whatever it takes to rescue her loved one.

But once at court, nothing is as it first appears. A sinister force controls some royals, while others whisper behind closed doors about forbidden alliances. And as Phoebe draws on her courage to complete the task set by her enemy, she makes a startling discovery—one that upends her father’s memory.

With dangerous conspiracies surfacing, Phoebe must uncover what the Royal Shapers really want from her, and decide whether there’s room for Colten in her unraveling life.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

 

Author Bio:

Nya Jade has enjoyed a fun career as a singer-songwriter. Her music videos have aired on the Vh1, BET and MTV networks and she’s opened for some of the biggest names in music. Nya’s music has also received recognition in major publications, including USA Today and the LA Times. She took a break from writing and performing music to write The Year of Four, her first YA novel. When she isn’t writing, Nya can be found hanging out with family and friends, reading or bargain hunting for her next pair of funky shoes. Nya lives with her family in California.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


Excerpt:

THE YEAR OF FOUR
A PHOEBE POPE NOVEL (Book 1)
by NYA JADE

Later, as the rest of the campus slept, Phoebe lay heartsick in the small grassy courtyard behind her dorm. Under a clear sky, she gazed at the brittle-looking moon, willing her body not to succumb to fatigue. If she did not sleep, the nightmare would not come. But Phoebe knew that, whether or not her eyes closed, the memory would still find a way in. Always.

She remembered rain hammering on the roof of the car as her father sped down a road lined by a wall of forest on either side. Behind them, the choral growl of the Vigos rose.

“Seat belt!” her father had shouted. His eyes were focused ahead, his jaw hard. Drawing the belt across her body, Phoebe stared in the side view mirror, seeing the moving shadows growing larger in the distance. Her panic soared.

“It’s going to be okay.” Her father stole a quick glance at her. “They can’t chase us all night. I promise you.”

Phoebe glanced at the speedometer and swallowed; the needle had pushed up past ninety. They turned a tight corner, and then, as her father had promised, the Vigos fell back, their growls receding into the drone of the rain. Phoebe saw triumph flash in her father’s eyes mere seconds before the car hydroplaned, turning and turning as though it would never stop.

Even now, as she lay curled in on herself, her arms wrapped around her body, Phoebe could hear the explosion of the car smashing into the tree. She could taste the gagging heat of blood dripping down her throat as she crawled her way out of the tangled mass of glass, metal, and branches.

“Dad,” Phoebe cried, stumbling over to the broken shape of her father lying nearby.

His eyes flickered up at her. “Honey,” he said, his voice hoarse and urgent. “They heard the crash.” He coughed raggedly, and blood ran from the corner of his mouth. “You’ve got to go.” What her father was asking her to do rattled around in Phoebe’s brain, failing to fully register even as her legs gave way underneath her. Her knees hit soggy earth, and, frantically eyeballing his injuries, she touched his face.

“You’ve already started heal—”

“I can’t heal enough before they get here.” His eyes slid to the darkness behind her, in the direction from which they’d come. Phoebe could hear them coming and the ground beneath her trembled with the vibrations of their advancing feet—Vigos drunk with the scent of a Shaper down.


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[Blog Tour & Review] Internet Famous – Danika Stone

Internet Famous
Danika Stone
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Can an online romance survive in real life?

Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.

Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything―and everyone―she loves?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


Review:

As the Internet becomes more and more of a pervasive presence in the lives of people the world over, it’s not hard to imagine how one can easily get caught up the chase for one inkling of internet fame. In Danika Stone’s latest novel, Internet Famous, readers are treated to a story that serves as both a look behind the rise of internet culture, but also a cautionary tale of the dangers that lie beneath the surface.

Following noted fandom blogger Madison Nakama, Internet Famous tells the tale of a teenager caught in the throes of ever-mounting Internet popularity while juggling the stresses of Real Life. Once her blog starts growing exponentially, Madison is faced with unknown terrain that might have some terrifying consequences. Being a protective older sister, maintaining her blog, facing a vicious Internet troll — what will be her breaking point?

Overall, I enjoyed the dedication Stone showed toward shining the spotlight on a multitude of diverse characters. Within the main characters, readers are treated to not only really great representation of an Asian family — Madison’s family is Japanese — but we also have a wonderful Autistic character in Sarah, Madison’s younger sister. Laurent, Madison’s love interest, is also a person of color. Granted, the majority of the other characters are all white — or, at least, coded white — but I’m glad that we’re able to have some representation for minorities that aren’t generally found in YA.

With regard to the rest of the book, Internet Famous was a quick, lively read that was a delight to finish. There were some points in the plot that were pretty predictable — I saw the twist at the end coming from a mile away — yet the way it was presented, I didn’t find myself irritated by the reveal like I would have been with other books. Stone’s writing style is casual, easy, effortless — a difficult feat to pull off in between blog posts in character as Madison. I imagined reading this book and feeling like cringing all over the place (because sometimes translating Internet culture into the written word can be cringy), but I was ultimately quite impressed.


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[Whatcha Readin’] May 25th, 2017

It’s that time of the week again where we ask the lovely blog owner: WHATCHA READIN’? In this weekly segment, I give a brief glimpse into the books that are currently occupying my spare time, as well as a little recap of the past seven days, overall.

So, Amber, whatcha readin’?

Been a few weeks since my last one of these (which is a pattern, then I mention again that it’s a pattern), but it’s been difficult with all of the traveling and other work things I’ve been up to lately! Last week, I was in Chicago all week for a conference and barely had time to put together the two blog tours I participated in. The week before that was, of course, Bout of Books, so reading progress was tracked on those particular posts. However, this week, now that a lot of the excitement has died down, there’s a lot more me time to just focus on what I need to get done, blog wise. Phew. AND I’ve given myself a four-day weekend, so I can relax, read, and get some writing done.


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This book was my main project while I was traveling to and from Chicago last week. (Spoiler alert: there’s going to be an upcoming blog tour with this book in a few weeks!) Rise of the Sea Witch, if you couldn’t tell by the title, is the “unofficial” origin story of the Little Mermaid’s Ursula and how she came to the dark side of the sea. I’ve actually never read a Disney retelling, so this was a pretty fun read! The first little bit had me kind of uninterested, but as the book moved along, my interest grew. Dare I say…I actually sympathized with Ursula? Quel surprise!

23732096So one of my best friends works for Marvel TV and her literal job (the best job in the world) is to read the comics and make sure that there’s consistency between the comic and television worlds. Her comic recommendations come with high esteem and regard because of her expertise, so I’m glad that The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was yet another home run of a comic. In this comic, Doreen Green is a young superhero flying just a little bit under the radar of the likes of the X-Men and Avengers; yet she’s the only one that can save Earth from an attack by Galactus: Devourer of Worlds. READ THIS COMIC PLEASE DO IT.

 

20312458Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel is one of those dozens of ebooks that I’ve had sitting in my iBooks for what feels like decades. I was initially drawn into the book for promising a narrative that provided a voice for queer girls of color — which really don’t get any attention at all within the YA space, let alone in real life. However, by the end of it, I felt like there was a lot of inconsistent and stereotypical characterization, and even demonization of bi girls within these pages! Come on, y’all, how are you going to lift up one section of queer girldom and put down another? Review is forthcoming.


So, whatcha readin’ this week? Any interesting updates or books you want to start soon? Let’s chat in the comments below!

[Teaser Tuesday] Tell Me How a Crush Should Feel – Sara Farizan

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel – Sara Farizan

“‘Salam, Leila joon! Che bozorg shodi! You’re growing up so fast,’ says a lady whose name I don’t remember, though I know she has a son my age, which she mentions to my mom all the time. I might as well wear a beauty pageant sash that says Prospective Bride; I would die.”


Does the teaser pull you in? What’s your book teaser for the week? Let’s chat in the comments below!

[Blog Tour & Review] Groupie – C.M. Stunich

Groupie
C.M. Stunich
(Rock-Hard Beautiful, #1)
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

“Can one of these five rockstars fill the hole in my heart? Or will I stay broken forever?”

Young, dumb, and broke.

That’s what started everything. With five dollars in her pocket, and everything she owns stuffed in the back of her car, Lilith Goode’s life is over. Done. Destroyed.

Ten words. One text. That’s what it took to change the whole world.

A crumpled concert ticket. A chance encounter. That’s what it takes to start all over again.

Five rockstars. One girl. Six dark hearts, six withered souls.

But can one broken person really put another back together again?

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Author Bio:

C.M. Stunich is a self-admitted bibliophile with a love for exotic teas and a whole host of characters who live full time inside the strange, swirling vortex of her thoughts. Some folks might call this crazy, but Caitlin Morgan doesn’t mind – especially considering she has to write biographies in the third person. Oh, and half the host of characters in her head are searing hot bad boys with dirty mouths and skillful hands (among other things). If being crazy means hanging out with them everyday, C.M. has decided to have herself committed.

She hates tapioca pudding, loves to binge on cheesy horror movies, and is a slave to many cats. When she’s not vacuuming fur off of her couch, C.M. can be found with her nose buried in a book or her eyes glued to a computer screen. She’s the author of over thirty novels – romance, new adult, fantasy, and young adult included. Please, come and join her inside her crazy. There’s a heck of a lot to do there.

Oh, and Caitlin loves to chat (incessantly), so feel free to e-mail her, send her a Facebook message, or put up smoke signals. She’s already looking forward to it.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


Review:

Usually, reverse harem romances aren’t my thing. (The best sentence I’ve written for a review, ever.) When it comes to real life situations, I truly prefer monogamy overall. However, when it comes to the action within the pages of C.M. Stunich’s Groupie, I didn’t mind it at all. The way the scenes are presented in the book makes this rockstar scenario almost…desirable. However, I had a few gripes about the rest of the story that made me lose a bit of the buy-in, despite the steaminess.

The first of a series of rockstar reverse harem romances, Groupie follows Lilith Goode, a young woman who’s recently found herself unemployed, homeless, and orphaned after dad passes. Through a chance meeting in the parking lot of a concert by rock band Beauty in Lies, Lilith finds herself a semi-permanent fixture on the band’s tour bus. However, it’s almost impossible to live in such close quarters with sexy, sultry men such as those in the band and not want to take a tumble in the sheets. But with such physical closeness comes the emotional vulnerability, too. Lilith’s got her own problems to handle; can she handle that of five total strangers?

Look, this book teeters on the whole “porn without plot” thing, so I’m going to talk about the porn first. Hope y’all are okay with that.

As mentioned previously, reverse harems generally do not get me excited as a genre. There are a lot of physical complications that can arise (heh) from trying to finagle the positioning of five bodies in that kind of situation, let alone writing about finagling the positioning of five bodies. However, I must say that Stunich did a great job during these scenes to make it believable, like it was something easy that everyone could just get down and do on the regular. (If they were into that sort of thing, of course.) Granted, not all of the sex scenes in this book are group sex — there’s a lot of one-on-one action that occurs that definitely, uh, inspired me in my real life. I also generally worry, in these books, that it’s going to list way more into the “woman is degrading herself” territory, but often, Lilith was the one in control of the whole scene. That far exceeded my expectations.

When it came to the blossoming relationships between Lilith and some of her boys, I really enjoyed that Stunich made an effort to make sure her characters developed real, substantial bonds. Some of these bonds were easily created rather than others, but there was always a sense of respect and admiration between Lilith and any other member of the band. These weren’t always just folks fuckin’ for the sake of fuckin’ — there was emotion behind it that made these characters feel far more tangible, and I enjoyed that.

What I did not enjoy, however, were a few plot points that felt extremely convoluted. While the whole premise in itself is contrived (come on, a whole band just deciding that they’re going to adopt a live-in groupie after she wins a contest?), there were other elements that made me roll my eyes. The band manager trying to sabotage Lilith’s every action? The stereotypical evil step-mom with a ton of random contempt for her step-daughter with no real reasoning as to why? Evil ex-boyfriend conveniently showing up across the country and being abusive? I know this is a romance novel and the whole genre is pretty hokey, but even those elements are so ridiculously overplayed, they’re predictable.

Another, smaller thing that made me feel weird was this habit of Lilith’s to switch into omniscient mode at the end of the chapter to allude to events that would happen later in the book. There’s foreshadowing by subtly weaving in some hints as to what may happen, and then there’s foreshadowing by straight up announcing “AND LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT I’D HAVE ALL FIVE OF THEM BY THE END OF THE TOUR.” at the end of one of the first two chapters. Don’t do that, don’t talk down to your readers; we knew she’d be fuckin’ them all when we picked up the book.

Overall, Groupie is definitely a heavy dose of rockstar wish fulfillment, which isn’t a bad thing! It’s filled with some boiling-hot scenes between some attractive folks that are almost necessary for readers to slip into when they just want an escape from their everyday lives. Who doesn’t want that? But what the book gains in awesome NSFW scenes, it loses in some aspects of the storytelling. I have to give it credit, though: who reads these books for the storytelling?


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[Blog Tour & Review] The Truth About Happily Ever After – Karole Cozzo

The Truth About Happily Ever After
Karole Cozzo
(Swoon Reads)
Publication date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.

A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in The Truth About Happily Ever After, a contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.

Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa’s perfect summer falls apart.

Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her friend Miller’s support, she’s determined to prove that she’s more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she’s finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she’s ready for something real.

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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


Review:

Everyone has their ideas about what their ideal happily ever after will look like — but some are more dedicated to that pursuit than others. Something similar could be said for contemporary YA: some are closer to the ideal, “relationship-goals” type of romance readers see in these books. While The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo didn’t have me madly swooning over the main couple and their romance, it still provided enough fluff to keep me satisfied.

The Truth About Happily Ever After follows Alyssa, a Cinderella face character actress for the beloved Enchanted Enterprises, and her semi-charmed life. She’s a popular addition to her sorority, she’s beautiful, she plays one of the most recognizable characters for a large children’s entertainment franchise, and — best of all — Alyssa has the ideal boyfriend in her beau of about a year. However, during her second summer at Enchanted Enterprises, the glass slipper starts to crack, especially once Prince Charming starts gradually turning into a frog. Can Alyssa pull everything together, or is her dream now a nightmare?

Overall, I thought that this book was cute and decently written. (Which is just about the bare minimum for Contemporary YA for me these days, really.) I really enjoyed the commitment to diversity present within the book, as some of the major side characters are of different racial and sexuality minorities. For example, the twins who play Snow White and Rose Red are of Chinese descent, then, later on, we’re introduced to a lesbian character who isn’t — GASP — immediately attracted to our female MC. Additionally, I felt like Cozzo did a good job in accomplishing a few important points for the genre: showing her audience how characters feel about each other rather than just telling us, and her attention to detail within the setting of the book. It’s so easy to imagine oneself stepping right into this particular world, whereas I often feel within other Contemporary YA books, the authors don’t really do anything to establish any world building at all.

However, there are a few sticking points within the book that made it speak to me less than I had hoped. I kind of really felt duped by Alyssa’s ultimate decision at the end of the book; the book emphasizes the point of personal growth and development as a person, especially when it comes to Alyssa’s ideas of romance and relationships, but I don’t feel as if she came out too much better than how she came in. I feel like there was too much of a commitment to the ideal “Happily Ever After” for all characters involved, which I get, but what kind of message does that send to the target audience? Truth be told, this whole cast — especially the main characters — suffered from that same kind of “no lessons learned” disease. Kind of a bummer. Furthermore, while I do appreciate the inclusion of some more diverse folks, they weren’t fleshed out at all. It almost felt as if they were tokenized a bit, like they were a tick in a box for a checklist.

If you’re a Disney fan, you’d definitely have fun with this as an “inside” look of the kind of drama that can happen when the costumes and wigs are off. Additionally, even if you’re just in the mood for something lighthearted that can give you a quick boost on your 2017 reading challenge, this may also be for you. However, do be aware that this is not going to rock your world or change your perception about Contemporary YA. But it is fun, just like Disney.


Amazing Pug Scale:

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[Bout of Books] Day Five Update & Day Six Challenge

Good afternoon, everyone! I hope all is going well for your Saturday installment of Bout of Books! If this is your first time participating in the Bout, I hope that you’ve made amazing progress on your goals!

Yesterday wasn’t my best showing, to be completely honest. I was having a really, really bad anxiety day, so I opted to just chill out with some bottles of Red Stripe, my partner, and Parks and Recreation. My reading time probably maxed out at about ten minutes total. It was really bad, but, you know what, when self-care time needs to happen, you take the call. I read for a little while in bed this morning, but we’re going to see DC United tonight, so I don’t anticipate to read too much more today, either. Oh well. I do what I want.


Today’s blogger challenge is: Seasons of Books

Choose 4 books, each representing a different season. Spring, summer, winter, and autumn. What was your reason for choosing each book? Color of the cover, title, character attitude, setting, or overall theme/feeling of the work? Share your selections on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #seasonsofbooks and #boutofbooks, or share your selections in the comments below!
Thanks to Auggie for today’s challenge.
Yeahhhh, I don’t feel like doing this today. #sorrynotsorry but I gotta go eat a burrito now, hahaha.

Bout of Books Progress:

Day 1:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one started on: 0%
Day one ended on: 51%
Number of books completed: 0

Day 2:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one ended on: 51%
Day two ended on: 100%!
Number of books completed: 1

Day 3:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one ended on: 51%
Day two ended on: 100%!
Now, Please – Willow Summers
Day three started on: 0%
Day three ended on: 52%
Number of books completed: 1

Day 4:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one ended on: 51%
Day two ended on: 100%!
Now, Please – Willow Summers
Day three ended on: 52%
Day four ended on: 100%!
Number of books completed: 2

Day 5:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one ended on: 51%
Day two ended on: 100%!
Now, Please – Willow Summers
Day three ended on: 52%
Day four ended on: 100%!
Rise of the Sea Witch – Stacey Rourke
Day five ended on: 6%
Number of books completed: 2


Are you participating in Bout of Books 19? How did you do on day five? Let’s chat in the comments!