Arc Review: Sleeping Around by Morgan Vega

Title: Sleeping Around
Author: Morgan Vega
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Tearstain Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the author for reaching out to review this book!

Hard-hitting yet humorous, this young adult contemporary following a teen’s transition from foster care to college by debut author Morgan Vega is perfect for fans of What I Carry by Jennifer Longo and Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour.

Foster care always promised her a bed. Now she doesn’t even have that.

Coralee (Corey) Reed can’t wait to trade her current foster house for Harmony Hall, the dorm for music majors. Corey arrives at Borns College with her pawn-shop violin and a borrowed duffle bag, ready to leave her foster care baggage behind.

But Corey’s first day on campus starts on a sour note. She runs into her archrival violinist Dylan Mason, then her name’s not on the dorm’s roster. Worst of all, Corey can’t live at Harmony Hall. Period. Because she’s not yet accepted into the music program. Instead, Reslife shoves her into a temporary triple with two unsuspecting (and beyond different) roommates.

When one of her roommates does the unforgivable, Corey starts sleeping around campus—from air mattresses to random couches—while waiting for an open room. But how can she beat Dylan for first chair if she can’t keep her eyes open? How can she pass her finals without a good night’s sleep? Will college, the place she thought would launch her dreams of becoming a professional violinist, be the place her dreams end all too soon?” (Goodreads)

This hadn’t been on my radar before the author reached out as Instagram’s algorithm sucks and I miss out on content because of it! It sounded like a book that was definitely up my alley so I am glad that the author did reach out because it gave me a chance to read it early.

Content Warning (From Author): Underage drinking, very brief mentions-not-depictions-of infertility and police brutality; and lots of sexual innuendos

Coralee Reed aka Corey loves the violin and has a special connection with the one she recently purchased. She has been in foster care for a lot of her life and has rules to make due with it and passes on that knowledge to the other foster kids she has lived with .Corey is finally breaking free to go to college but things don’t always go the way she had hoped.

I have never had to deal with the foster care system so I can’t really give my two cents about that. It is heartbreaking though to see the news that circles around it. I will say that I feel like this book does a good job of detailing the feelings and hardships that come from it like changing foster homes, not wanting to get too close, and just feeling like you don’t have a place in this world. Corey deals with this among other things and when you add the struggles of transitioning to college on top of it any person would eventually break.

Even though it’s been years since I was in college myself, the author captures the first year of it well. Meeting people can be hard and sometimes the people who you think are friends aren’t. There can be roommate issues (luckily I lived off campus!) and sometimes the experience just isn’t what we thought college would be. I liked seeing Corey maneuver her way through the hardships and growing from the process. She does finally let her foster parents in and it was precious. I’m glad that it all worked out in the end.

There is a bit of romance but it is a very minor aspect of the book. The banter between Corey and Dylan was gold. I do think that their relationship was rushed through so it was hard to fully connect with them as a couple.

Overall, this was a unique plot that involved foster care and finding yourself through the struggles. I think it will do well for those going to college or someone who loves a good YA contemporary.

Goodreads Monday: Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher (7/19/21)

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: Full Flight
Author: Ashley Schumacher
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books

A heartbreaking novel about finding your first love and what happens when it’s over too soon.

Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Enfield Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be.

When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too.

After her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, together they learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching contest nearing, and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward without Weston.

Ashley Schumacher’s Full Flight is about how first love shapes us—even after it’s gone.” (Goodreads)

I loved this author’s first book called Amelia Unabridged and have been waiting for her latest book! Luckily, Netgalley and the publisher granted me the ability to read it early and I can’t wait to start this beauty!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears

Title: The Tragedy of Dane Riley
Author: Kat Spears
Genre: YA Contemporary / Retelling/ Mental Health
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“Dane Riley’s grasp on reality is slipping, and he’s not sure that he cares. While his mother has moved on after his father’s death, Dane desperately misses the man who made Dane feel okay to be himself. He can’t stand his mother’s boyfriend, or the boyfriend’s son, whose favorite pastime is tormenting Dane. Then there’s the girl next door: Dane can’t quite define their relationship, and he doesn’t know if he’s got the courage to leave the friend zone.

An emotional novel about mental health, and dealing with grief and growing up, The Tragedy of Dane Riley is the story of a teenager looking to make sense of his feelings in the wake of tragedy, and finding the strength he needs to make life worth living.” (Goodreads)

As someone who enjoys Shakespeare I was looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this book. Hamlet is also one of my favorite plays too. When it came to a retelling standpoint, I liked where the author went with it. It’s always interesting to see how someone takes something old and makes it new, especially when it comes to the contemporary genre. My issue lies with the characters and why this book ended up being okay for me.

Dane is dealing with grief when it comes to the loss of his father. It’s understandable why he made the choices he made. Even though I understand that teens smoke, whether its vaping/smoking or weed, it’s just not something I could or can relate to. I never did those things as a teen and I’m just not a fan of seeing teens in books doing those things or even drinking. He also looked at all of the flaws of Eric but it didn’t seem like he noticed his own. Since the point-of-view comes from a male there were things talked about that also weren’t relatable.

I did like the plot does start with the rocky relationship he has with his mother. It shows how grief is dealt with differently depending on the person. There is a happy ending between them so that was nice to see.

Overall, this was okay but ultimately not a book for me and that most likely has to do with my age.

Arc Review: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park

Title: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous
Author: Suzanne Park
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

A social media influencer is shipped off to a digital detox summer camp in this funny coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Love and Gelato .

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever

Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.” (Goodreads)

After enjoying this author’s first ya book, The Perfect Escape, I was looking forward to her next and am happy I got to read it early!

Sunny just finished her junior year up with a trip to the headmaster’s office with her parents. Parents complaining about her social media presence wasn’t on her bucket list but after going viral from a cooking stream she is on her way to a social media free summer.

What I like about Sunny is that she is a go-getter. She took a viral video from her childhood and ran with it to create her own brand. Even though social media can be too much (I’ll get to that), it also has it’s good qualities as well and its easy to see why the younger generation uses it to their advantage. She also stands up for herself and calls out racism behavior. I really liked her character and seeing the growth she had in the time she was at the farm.

Obviously the internet/social media can also be a double-edged sword. There are quite a lot of drawbacks and I have seen them firsthand. It isn’t easy to deal with trolls, stats, time consuming, or whatever else it throws at the user. It’s always hard to find balance in a world that is filled with technology. This book has an important message for teens and even adults who struggle as well.

The pacing was good and kept me engaged throughout. I can’t say there was ever a dull moment as plot twists did pop up and I just wanted to know what would happen next on this farm. I loved the elderly coming and Sunny using her skills to help them out. There were a lot of funny moments.

My only complaint would be the romance. I’m still not sure why her crush was necessary as it felt like it could have been left out and nothing would have changed. The relationship she found herself in was cute but also felt rushed. I could look past its flaws for the most part because I did like the rest of the book. I will also say that a lot of the minor characters were very one-dimensional but again, I liked the rest of the book so I kind of looked past it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I think it has a great message and Sunny is a great character to read about.

Arc Review: Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

Title: Lucky Girl
Author: Jamie Pacton
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an arc to read in exchange for a review!

“A hilarious and poignant reflection on what money can and cannot fix

58,643,129. That’s how many dollars seventeen-year-old Fortuna Jane Belleweather just won in the lotto jackpot. It’s also about how many reasons she has for not coming forward to claim her prize.

Problem #1: Jane is still a minor, and if anyone discovers she bought the ticket underage, she’ll either have to forfeit the ticket, or worse…

Problem #2: Let her hoarder mother cash it. The last thing Jane’s mom needs is millions of dollars to buy more junk. Then…

Problem #3: Jane’s best friend, aspiring journalist Brandon Kim, declares on the news that he’s going to find the lucky winner. It’s one thing to keep her secret from the town, it’s another thing entirely to lie to her best friend. Especially when…

Problem #4: Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, is suddenly back in her life, and he has big ideas about what he’d do with the prize money.

As suspicion and jealousy turn neighbor against neighbor, and no good options for cashing the ticket come forward, Jane begins to wonder: Could this much money actually be a bad thing?” (Goodreads)

I’ve never read a book about a character winning the lottery but I really enjoyed this unique plot!

Fortuna Jane, but goes by Jane, has won big money from a lottery ticket she bought spur of the moment. This causes her to go into panic mode as she decides what to do with it but more importantly, how she will even get the money if she isn’t eighteen.

I enjoyed getting to know Jane and the life that hasn’t been easy for her. Even though it’s been five years since the death of father, it can still be a hard thing to process. I have never lost a parent but I do know grief from losing my grandmother. Death sucks. I think Jane handles it well but her mother is another story since she decides hoarding is the best medicine. This not only impacts her mother but it also affects Jane as she has to live in a house filled with everything that her mother collects.

Jane is also going through the emotions of a past break-up as her ex comes back into the picture suddenly. This type of situation can definitely take a toll. Been there multiple times! It was easy to relate to her as she maneuvered through it all. Besides her friend being in a relationship and talking to his girlfriend, who is also friends with Jane, there isn’t much when it comes to romantic relationships and honestly, I love books like this where a character doesn’t have to fall in love to find themselves. I also liked seeing a great relationship between a boy and girl who are friends and good ones at that! Bran is such a good guy.

Besides hoarding, this book also deals with the outcome of winning a lottery and what money/greed can do to people. It talked about “the lottery curse” but it also talked about how money can be used for good. I liked seeing both sides of the coin and it all gave Jane a better perspective to make her decision on what to do. It also doesn’t help that she has a close group of people to help her along the way.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a unique plot with important topics that was easy to read as I finished it in one sitting, haha.

E-Arc Review: With You All the Way by Cynthia Hand

Title: With You All the Way
Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 30th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“Ada’s life is a mess. She just caught her boyfriend cheating on her after a humiliating attempt at losing her virginity, and she’s had it up to here with her gorgeous older sister’s unsolicited advice.

But things really hit the fan during a family vacation in Hawaii, where Ada discovers her own mother is having an affair. Apparently, everyone is falling into bed with people they shouldn’t. Everyone except Ada. But when Ada decides she’s going to stop trying and start doing—sex, that is—her best laid plan overlooks an inconvenient truth:

Feelings, romantic or not, always get in the way.” (Goodreads)

After reading the blurb for this book, I felt like it was going to be an impactful read about a family and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. This book is so relatable and realistic, even as an adult.

Ada’s a character I saw myself as when I was teen. She is new in the relationship department and things just aren’t going well. Everything that happens to her is realistic and honestly has happened to me but just a bit different. It was so easy to understand how she felt.

At that age (the MC is sixteen), we want to make adult decisions and we also think that we are the only one with a messed up life. I mean, I still have days where I feel like I am the only one just living at the bottom of a dark hole but when it comes to adult decisions, I just don’t want to make them, ha. It’s easy to look at your siblings and parents and think everything is going right for them because we don’t know any better. I loved that this book showed us both sides of the coin. In a family there will be fighting among siblings and even parents, sometimes it both and this book doesn’t shy away from that. What matters is getting it all out, being understanding, and realizing that life for anyone isn’t perfect.

This book does talk about sex a lot but I liked the way the author talked about it when it came to the characters. There are really great messages included.

Even though I figured certain things out, it didn’t stop me from loving this book. I loved the characters and the plot.

Honestly, I am not even sure if this review makes sense or if I have even given this book justice. All I can say is that I loved it and hopefully you will too.

Audiobook Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Title: Broken Things
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Suspense
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.” (Goodreads)

I am always looking for a good YA suspense/thriller to read and this one happened to catch my eye last year. I did buy a copy from Book Outlet but hadn’t got around to it until now but as an audiobook since I am in the middle of a couple ebooks. Although the blurb looks promising, I felt that the the way it was labeled was inaccurate and more about the relationships between the three girls than the mystery and suspense.

This book is told in past and present chapters along with two point-of-views: Brynn and Mia. This is honestly a lot to have in one book and it could be confusing at times if I was paying attention to who it was speaking. At least there is a bit of a different for both voices when it comes to the audiobook. There are also bits read from a book that the girls were obsessed, mostly Summer, and the book is really the driving force for it all so it does weave everything together. I did like that.

When it comes to the mystery and suspense of it all, I was really disappointed. There is more about the relationship of the girls. The two girls do come together to try and solve it but it just felt so minimal. The ending for it all felt very rushed and left me with questions that went unanswered. I didn’t guess the killer but at the same time I wasn’t surprised by it either and felt nothing. It just didn’t make a lot of sense.

Overall, it was okay. I think most of my problems are based on that I thought it would be more thrilling but it just wasn’t.

Arc Review: Fadeaway by E.B. Vickers

Title: Fadeaway
Author: E.B. Vickers
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Suspense
Publication Date: March 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Knopf

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

When a high school basketball star goes missing, a town’s secrets are exposed in this edge-of-your seat, addictive read.

At 8:53 pm, thousands of people watched as Jake Foster secured the state title for his basketball team with his signature fadeaway. But by the next morning, he’s disappeared without a trace. Nobody has any idea where he is: not his best friend who knows him better than anyone else, not his ex-girlfriend who may still have feelings for him, not even his little brother who never expected Jake to abandon him. Rumors abound regarding Jake’s whereabouts. Was he abducted? Did he run away to try to take his game to the next level? Or is it something else, something darker—something they should have seen coming?

Told from the points of view of those closest to Jake, this gripping, suspenseful novel reminds us that the people we think we know best are sometimes hiding the most painful secrets.” (Goodreads)

This book was such a pleasant surprise!

Before going into this one, I didn’t know much about it besides what was described in the blurb. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into it and not want to put it down. If it wasn’t for sleep and starting it late, I would have finished it in one day.

One thing I enjoy, especially when it comes to mystery/suspense books, is when they use different formats. This one has police interrogations of those close to the missing person, Jake, as well as journal entries from him and his brother. I also liked the use of multiple point-of-views and past/present timelines. It helps to build the relationships of these people with Jake as well as paint the bigger picture of who he is as a person. If that isn’t enough, there is also a point-of-view from Jake from after he goes missing! That one brought on a lot of plot twists and had me so intrigued!

Even though the above may seem like a lot for one novel, this author does a great job of it not bogging down the plot. It’s written well and it’s easy to understand the emotions of all of those involved.

This may have a lot of mystery/suspense to it but I wasn’t expecting it to talk about a tough subject like addiction. It talks about how addiction can impact the person, the family, and those around them in their community. The author spins it into a great story with a lot of meaning and I thought it was well done. It’s definitely a topic that needs to be talked more about.

Overall, this was really enjoyable! My review isn’t too long since with these kinds of books its better to go in surprised.

E-Arc Review: The Castle School: For Troubled Girls by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Title: The Castle School: For Troubled Girls
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend, Nathan, died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the odd headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief―and the real reasons her parents sent her away.” (Goodreads)

I have read two other books by this author and although one was just an okay read, I figured why not read a third book.

This book was different than I expected as on netgalley it says “dark psychological contemporary”. To me, there was nothing dark or psychological about it. I think that is where part of my disconnect was with this story.

When it came to the characters, Moira is the MC and has the biggest point-of-view. The plot is mostly about her journey through grief from the loss of her best friend. It was interesting to read about her from start to finish. She goes through a lot of development along the way even if she questions the headmaster’s motives. I wouldn’t say I fully connected to her but it didn’t lessen my likeness for her.

There are other chapters about each girl who attends this school and covers how each one got there. I thought this was a nice touch since when they are first introduced we are told about what brought them there. Each one is dealing with a different issue. I like this added bonus but I also wish we got more from them throughout the plot. A few of the girls are more major than others but it just wasn’t enough for me.

One thing I like about this author is that she talks about mental health. In this day and age our mental health is more important than ever. I like seeing it discussed in YA books and I hope there will be a lot more books about it.

Overall, it was a good book. I didn’t fully connect to the story but I appreciate what the author wrote about and can see many enjoying this book.

CW: Self-Harm

E-Arc Review: Playing Cupid by S.C. Alban

Title: Playing Cupid
Author: S.C. Alban
Genre: YA Contemporary / Retelling / Romance
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2021
Publisher: The Parliament House Press

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“For the past five years, seventeen-year-old Megan Cooper has built a wall around her heart with little room to experience true feelings. However, her entire world shifts the moment she hits Cupid with her car driving home from finals. With his shooting arm significantly injured, she has no choice but to take his place.

Now, as Megan races to find Cupid’s final three love matches in order to meet his quota by the start of the new year, she comes face to face with the very emotions she’s been pushing away for so long.

Caught between what her head is saying and what her heart longs for, Megan must face old wounds, find forgiveness, and track down the perfect match for the one boy she can’t stand.” (Goodreads)

The cover for this book is one of my favorites from the year so far but sadly I didn’t entirely like the book.

The one thing I enjoyed about it was the retelling of Cupid. It was fun and unique! He also is quite sarcastic and definitely makes Megan’s life interesting. I really enjoyed the interactions they had together. Also, it ends with an epilogue explaining things that happened in the plot a bit more and I was not expecting that!

Since this is a book that includes Cupid I figured that the main character, Megan, would end up learning a thing or two about love. The thing is, the romance just wasn’t believable for me. Megan and the love interest didn’t have many interactions and I guess that’s why Cupid comes in. It also mostly happens well over 50% into the book and that makes for the ending to feel rushed.

Another thing I didn’t like was how quickly important topics were glossed over. Megan has issues with her dad ever since her mother died of cancer and when they don’t have many scenes together it’s hard to believe that they would make up so quickly. The love interest also deals with family issues and again, it was rushed through so it felt like what was the point in bringing it up besides for Megan and him to have a connection.

Overall, I liked the parts with Cupid but everything else was quickly glossed over and and the ending was too rushed for my taste. I do think others will like this one but sadly it wasn’t for me.