[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?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

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.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

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.


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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!

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

Okay, I know it’s only been a little over 12 hours since my last update on this readathon, but I finally have time to write this during my usual preferred writing time. (Hooray for the boss being out!) As of now, the Bout of Bookers are five days into this week-long affair and it’s absolutely just blowing by quicker than I anticipated. I can’t believe it’s almost over!

As I say that, I come to realize that this has been one of the most successful Bouts that I’ve yet to participate in, at least when it comes to my goals. I made great headway on the book I was reading last night and hope to keep up the pace with the book I started this morning. Even though I took a Lyft to work yesterday, I still had enough time on the Metro leaving work — and later, leaving Barre class — to continue reading Now, Please. I wasn’t anticipating on finishing it until maybe today or tomorrow, but I knocked the rest of it out last night while I was doing a face mask! Fuck yeaaaaaaahhhhhh~ Because of that, I picked up another book today for a future Xpresso Book Tour, Rise of the Sea Witch. We’ll see how that one goes over the next few days!


Today’s blogger challenge is: Book Spine Rainbow

Take a selection of your favorite book spines to make a rainbow! Share on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #bookspinerainbow and #boutofbooks, or share your picture in the comments below!

Thanks to Liz Whitehouse for today’s challenge.

Again, since I’m working with ebooks for this particular Bout, I decided to keep along that theme and use not physical book spines, but screenshots of covers of a few books in my expansive ebook collection. While I didn’t have a cover for every color of the rainbow (fuckin’ indigo), I still think this is a beautiful array. Also, one of them is cheating due to iBooks hosting public domain books, but I’ll take it because I’m lazy. (Guess how many of these I’ve actually read. Hint: two.)

Red: Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen, Orange: Soulless – Jacinta MareeYellow: Firefly Hollow – T.L. Haddix, Green: Vindication on the Rights of Woman – Mary Wollstonecraft, Blue: Demon Princess – Kassandra Lynn, Violet: The Faerie Guardian – Rachel Morgan


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


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

[Bout of Books] Day Three Update & Day Four Challenge

Happiest of Thursdays to all who read this! Sorry for the lateness in posting this today; work was back to back with meetings and I just had a crummy day overall. Regardless, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m participating in Bout of Books 19 this week! The past few days have been so refreshing to me since it’s been a long, long time since I’ve deliberately carved out time beyond commuting to read. I hope everyone else is feeling the same way!

I seem to be impressing myself day over day with this particular project. As you might have seen, I’ve already finished one book and as of yesterday, I’m on track to finish a second tonight if I’m lucky. This second book is actually quite aggravating, but it’s so short that I might as well have it completed. Additionally, it’s the second in a series (the first of which I should have a review of up tomorrow or Saturday) that I received from Xpresso a million years ago, so here’s hoping.


Today’s blogger challenge is: Character Dating Profile

Create a dating profile for your favourite literary character. Where are they from? What are they looking for? What are their likes and dislikes?
Thanks to Liz Whitehouse for today’s challenge.
 
One of my favorite book characters of all time is, bar none, Remus Lupin, from the Harry Potter series. Yes, I know, he ends up marrying Tonks, having a baby, then dying soon after, but he was single for a long time before he hooked up with her! Just imagine this dating profile is in the personals of the Daily Prophet sometime before the First Wizarding War.
Single young wizard seeking witch that doesn’t like to dance by the moonlight. Must be able to keep secrets, be an excellent caregiver, and like dogs. Lovers of chocolate are always welcome. Headstrong, brave witches are preferred, but let me make a patronus or two every once in a while. Gryffindor houses more than just lions, you know.

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 two started on: 51%
Day two ended on: 100%!
Number of books completed: 1

Day 3:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one started on: 0%
Day two started 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


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

[Bout of Books] Day Two Update & Day Three Challenge

Good morning readers — whether or not you’re participating in Bout of Books! I hope everyone made great progress on their reading goals over the last 24 hours. I know I have! (And it’s pretty great progress for me, for sure.)

Yesterday, I didn’t allow myself time in the morning and afternoon to read during the commute. I ended up taking Lyft to and from work yesterday due to some working from home pieces I had to get done that left me with time constraints. However, as soon as I got home from work, I had a singular goal in mind: finish Internet Famous. It was a daunting task, especially given that I had less time to read than I intended, but I sat down and buckled up for the ride. And yes, I achieved the goal. (:


Today’s blogger challenge is: Share Your Shelfie

Share a picture of your books/shelves/nightstand/e-library/wherever you keep your books on Twitter, Instagram, or on this post. Use the hashtags #boutofbooks and #shelfie4boutofbooks

Admittedly, I forgot to take a shelfie before I left for work this morning (because I wake up at the crack of dawn and leave as the sun’s rising — literally). However, I thought a fun twist on this theme would be to share the shelfies of my ebook collection, especially since I’m focusing solely on ebooks for this Bout of Books! Behold: my iBooks shelfie! I’ve got a ton that I haven’t even touched that I accumulated while I was on hiatus last year. No wonder why my phone continually has no space, haha.


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 two started on: 51%
Day two ended on: 100%!
Number of books completed: 1


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

[Bout of Books 19] Day One Updates & Day Two Challenge

Greetings everyone! Happy day two to all of the Bout of Books participants reading this post! We’re officially 1/7th of the way through this particular readathon. If this is your first time getting in on the action, I hope it’s all going swimmingly and that you’re enjoying your time!

Yesterday, my reading was off to an amazing start! While, yes, I did have to work yesterday during my usual hours (yay 7:30 am – 4:00 pm), I did make sure to give myself some extra reading time when I got home from work instead of wasting my time scrolling through Facebook like I usually do. It paid off in droves! Additionally, I participated in last night’s Kick-Off Twitter chat with the rest of the Bout of Bookers, and it’s always exciting to mingle among the new and returning faces. (Twitter accounts, whatever.)


Today’s blogger challenge is Not a Font:

Share a book cover where illustrations are part of the typography of the title. Check out these examples: The Water Knife | Mamita
Looking at the book cover, you know the letters cannot be recreated by simply downloading a font.
Thank you to J. Lenni Dorner for providing today’s challenge idea.
To fulfill this challenge, I’ll be featuring the cover of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. This cover definitely does not look like something rendered by mere typed text. Each letter appears hand-written and has its own shape to match the flow of the surrounding typography. Even repeating letters (like the RR in Carry) have their own style and shape. It’s truly a e s t h e t i c.
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 Bout of Books Progress:

Day 1:
Internet Famous – Danika Stone
Day one started on: 0%
Day one ended on: 51%


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

[Bout of Books 19] TBR List

Good morning, everyone, and happy Bout of Books week to all that are participating!

I’m so thrilled to be able to hop back into the saddle with this readathon. While I usually have about an hour and a half a day of reading time in the morning and evenings during my commute to and from work, I really make sure to double down on the reading when I get home from work, too.

Because I tend to over-shoot my abilities for these readathons, my goal isn’t to hit a certain number of pages or percentage points read. I really just want to read as much as I possibly can accomplish. If I can finish even just one book this week, I’ll be completely jazzed, especially since I have a lot on my plate this month already with upcoming blog tours.

Before I get into the books I’ve selected for this Bout of Books, here’s my entry in today’s Daily Challenge:

Introduce Yourself #insixwords:

Feminist DC resident, loving YA novels

Without further ado, here are the three books from which I’ll be reading this week:

  • Internet Famous – Danika Stone
  • Now, Please – Willow Summers
  • Rise of the Sea Witch – Stacey Rourke

Are you participating in Bout of Books 19? What’s on your TBR list this week? Let’s chat in the comments!