Review

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

wildergirlsWilder Girls
by Rory Power

Published July 9, 2019

Source: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true. [goodreads]

This book has been described as a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies and as a sapphic horror novel. Both of those things wildly compelled me to pick up this novel, but I did not feel that either description was accurate.

My main frustration as I read was that I never really understood what the Tox actually was. Throughout the story, we are given descriptions of the Tox’s effects on the girls — disfigured bodies and changes that came out of nowhere, but the way it started was never explained. Because we weren’t given enough backstory and information on the Tox, I became much more invested in what the Tox was than what was going on in the actual plot of the novel.

That being said, I felt more connected to the plot than to any of the characters — they felt paper-thin to me and there was nothing about them that made me care if they lived or died. None of them was memorable to me in the slightest.

I was interested enough in the Tox to continue reading, but was ultimately left more confused than satisfied. The ending happened very abruptly and could have used an additional 100 pages of explanation, in my opinion. While I am glad I read this book, I feel that it would have benefited from additional details and length.

I do want to mention that while this book is technically sapphic, its certainly not a romance. Hype and early reviews led me to believe that there would be more of a focus on a f/f relationship in this book than there actually is.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (from author’s website) Graphic violence and body horror, gore, on-page character death, parental death, and animal death (though the animals are not pets), behavior and descriptive language akin to self-harm, food scarcity and starvation, emesis, a scene depicting chemical gassing, reference to suicide and suicidal ideation, non-consensual medical treatment.

 

WILDER GIRLS is available now!

 

Review

Maurene Goo Mini-Reviews

The Way You Make Me Feel

The Way You Make Me Feel
by Maurene Goo

Published May 8, 2018

Source: Purchased


 

1

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.


2

I read this book while on vacation earlier this month and am so glad I decided to pick it up! It made me feel like I had been living under a rock when it comes to Maurene Goo’s books because I absolutely LOVED this.

Clara starts off as a bit of a brat, really. She is disrespectful towards her parents and people at school, and doesn’t care how her actions make other people feel. When one of her pranks at prom goes too far, she has to spend the summer working off her debt at her father’s food truck alongside her nemesis Rose.

This story had a lot of depth behind it — Clara is struggling with her mother abandoning her to go be a social media influencer and neither Rose or Clara have any female friendships in their life. Clara has a very friendship-like relationship with her dad when the story starts out and doesn’t seem to see him in a typical parental role.

I loved seeing Clara and Rose work through their issues with each other and start to find common ground as the summer wore on. The food truck setting was so much fun — I wish I was lined up at KoBra for lunch right now! The descriptions of food were amazing and mouth-watering and I can’t believe Korean-Brazilian fusion isn’t really a thing, because it should be.

Clara and Rose both grow so much throughout the course of the book, both individually and into a really lovely friendship. This book made me laugh and smile so many times as I read it, but it was far from being all fluff.

I gave THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL 4 out of 5 stars!

 

Somewhere Only We Know

Somewhere Only We Know
by Maurene Goo

Published May 7, 2018

Source: Purchased


 

1

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.


2

I loved the concept of this book, but unfortunately the execution was a bit lacking for me. I felt that Lucky’s character read extremely young, and while a few deeper topics such as feeling like an outsider within your own culture and fitting into a family were discussed, I didn’t feel that they were given enough time to be impactful. There was a weird power imbalance between Lucky and her love interest for the majority of the story that felt weird to me and made it hard for me to ship Lucky and Jack.

I felt that this story had too much lightheartedness and not enough depth to back it up. It might work for a younger audience, but unfortunately I didn’t love this story.

I gave SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW 2 out of 5 stars.

Untitled2

Lists

Must-Read Books of Spring & Summer 2019

Below are the top twelve books on my radar this spring and summer, organized by release date. 2019 is shaping up to be SUCH a good year in books. I’m so excited about every book on this list I’ve already pre-ordered the entire list!


Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Release Date: April 2nd

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Release Date: April 16th

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
Release Date: May 7th

This is one of my FAVORITE covers I’ve seen in a long time! I’m obsessed with the foil detailing and the gorgeous purple galaxy background. I need this finished copy in my hands ASAP.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Release Date: May 7th

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.


Again, But Better by Chrisine Riccio
Release Date: May 7th

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal — but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change — there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic – the possibilities are endless.

 


The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Release Date: May 14th

This is another cover that I LOVE. I pre-ordered a paperback copy instead of a Kindle version because I need this on my shelf!

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Release Date: May 14th 

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius―his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagram-able friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly un-stuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Fellow Austin-ites: Author Casey McQuiston will be visiting Book People on May 23rd to launch the book! Meet her and get your copy signed at 7pm. I’ve already read and loved this book, so trust me: this is one you’re going to want on your shelves. 

 

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 4th

I’ve been reading Sarah Dessen books since the seventh grade, and each new release from her is a must-read.

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when Emma was twelve. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family that she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is also divided into two people. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her—Emma or Saylor—will win out?

 

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Release Date: June 11th

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days . . . can he?

 

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
Release Date: June 11th 

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop
Release Date: July 2nd

Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, all-American brothers Luke and Blair, whose wealthy father has hired the best coaches money can buy. Together, they are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold.

But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair.

With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, and meets a colorful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons?

In alternating chapters, Katie grows up, falls in love, and races down the highest peaks on the planet—while Liz is reborn, falls into lust, and sinks into the underground tango scene at the bottom of the world. From the moneyed ski chalets of the American West to the dimly lit milongas of Argentina, We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve—and what’s left behind after it all disappears.

 

What books are you most looking forward to this spring? Have you read anything I’ve mentioned yet? 

 

Untitled2

 

 

Blog Tour

New Release: Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey’s next romantic comedy, HOTSHOT DOC, is available now! Find out more about it below and pick up your copy today!

 

About HOTSHOT DOC

Dr. Russell has a bad reputation around our hospital. The scrub techs say he’s cold-blooded, the nurses say he’s too cocky for his own good, and the residents say he’s the best surgeon in the world—really, just a swell guy!—on the off chance he’s within earshot.

I try to avoid him and his temper at all costs. It’s just as easy to admire his sexy, grip-it-while-he’s-ravishing-you hair and chiseled jaw from a healthy distance, preferably from the other end of the hallway…half-hidden behind a plant.

Unfortunately, my plan crumbles when my trusty ol’ boss decides to swap his white coat for a Hawaiian shirt. His retirement leaves me with two terrible options: switch specialties and spend months retraining, or take an open position as Dr. Russell’s surgical assistant.

That means I have to stand near him in the OR for hours on end and anticipate his every need without letting his biting words and bad attitude intimidate me. Oh, and as if that’s not difficult enough, my silly crush on him—the one I’ve tried to stomp on until it disappears—might just be reciprocated.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

I take my job seriously. There will be no smoldering bedroom eyes across the operating table, no angry almost-kisses in the storage closet. (Well, no more of those.)

What’s the phrase? An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Maybe I should go for a whole damn bushel.

Add HOTSHOT DOC to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on HOTSHOT DOC now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

Website | Twitter | Facebook | R.S. Grey’s Little Reds Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram

Review

Cover Reveal: Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey’s next romantic comedy, HOTSHOT DOC, releases December 6th! Check out the cover and find out more about HOTSHOT DOC below!

 

About HOTSHOT DOC (available December 6th)

Dr. Russell has a bad reputation around our hospital. The scrub techs say he’s cold-blooded, the nurses say he’s too cocky for his own good, and the residents say he’s the best surgeon in the world—really, just a swell guy!—on the off chance he’s within earshot.

I try to avoid him and his temper at all costs. It’s just as easy to admire his sexy, grip-it-while-he’s-ravishing-you hair and chiseled jaw from a healthy distance, preferably from the other end of the hallway…half-hidden behind a plant.

Unfortunately, my plan crumbles when my trusty ol’ boss decides to swap his white coat for a Hawaiian shirt. His retirement leaves me with two terrible options: switch specialties and spend months retraining, or take an open position as Dr. Russell’s surgical assistant.

That means I have to stand near him in the OR for hours on end and anticipate his every need without letting his biting words and bad attitude intimidate me. Oh, and as if that’s not difficult enough, my silly crush on him—the one I’ve tried to stomp on until it disappears—might just be reciprocated.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

I take my job seriously. There will be no smoldering bedroom eyes across the operating table, no angry almost-kisses in the storage closet. (Well, no more of those.)

What’s the phrase? An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Maybe I should go for a whole damn bushel.

Add HOTSHOT DOC to your Goodreads list here!

HOTSHOT DOC releases December 6th – you’ll be able to preorder your copy for .99c starting December 3rd!

Keep an eye on R.S. Grey’s Facebook page for the link!

 

 

 

 

About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

Website | Twitter | Facebook | R.S. Grey’s Little Reds Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday: You’d Be Mine

wow

You'd Be Mine

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn
To Be Published: April 2, 2019
by Wednesday Books

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut, You’d Be Mine, asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole? [summary from Goodreads]

2

There are so few YA books that feature country music and that is such a shame. I absolutely love the country music world and cannot wait to dive into this story.

 

Pre-ordering REALLY helps authors by creating demand for their work and increasing their first week sales. I really encourage you to pre-order if this sounds like something you want to read! To be perfectly honest, while I absolutely love supporting indie bookstores, I usually pre-order from Amazon because they guarantee that you will get the lowest price the book hits between the date you pre-order and the release date. Plus, they don’t charge you until the item ships, making it super easy to support the author without spending a bunch of money upfront!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookPeople

Untitled2

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday: Small Town Hearts

wow

Small Town Hearts

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale
To Be Published: March 19, 2019
by Swoon Reads

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy? [summary from Goodreads]

2

I am always up for a small town summertime romance! I also think the summer between high school and college is a really interesting setting with a lot of room for character growth, conflict, and of course L-O-V-E. It sounds like the main character might also be bi-sexual, so I hope this is an opportunity for good representation there.

 

Pre-ordering REALLY helps authors by creating demand for their work and increasing their first week sales. I really encourage you to pre-order if this sounds like something you want to read! To be perfectly honest, while I absolutely love supporting indie bookstores, I usually pre-order from Amazon because they guarantee that you will get the lowest price the book hits between the date you pre-order and the release date. Plus, they don’t charge you until the item ships, making it super easy to support the author without spending a bunch of money upfront!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookPeople

Untitled2