Tag Archives: road trips

ARC Review – Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche

24878695Title: Don’t Fail me Now

Author: Una La Marche

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them. Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.

Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little. After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.

Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first–herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before….

Huge thank you to Razorbill Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Opening to the first page of Don’t Fail me Now, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I’ve never read any of Una LaMarche’s novels, but a good friend of mine told me how she as an author has a way of building wonderful and memorable relationships. Don’t Fail Me Now focuses on two girls who happen to share a father, and the road trip with their siblings across America to get to him before he keels over.

This book brought out a ton of emotions in me. There were so many hilarious moments, as there were sad ones. Every character in this novel has a distinctive voice, well developed, and each has a bit of oddness to them that you cannot help but love. My favourite character easily was Denny, but that might be because of all the characters, his innocence is pretty darling. Still, he’s quirky, love a good poop joke, and does his best to get along with everyone. If I’m being realistic, I kinda of loved everyone.

Michelle is such a wonderful heroine with so much crap on her plate, and yet she pushes through all the crap to try and raise her siblings right. When she meets her half-sister Leah, they aren’t besties right away, and they at first struggle to see there relationship as being anything more than sharing a father. For me, they had a very believable relationship, and LaMarche couples this with the extra trials and tribulations of a road trip, forcing the two of them to put difference aside so they can have their say with the father that neglected them.

All the relationships in this story feel so real and honest, which is ultimately what I loved about the story. I was given five characters, each who I cared about through the entire story. I loved Cass and her attitude, Tim’s slight dippiness, but his desire to help in any way he can — these characters offer so much more than what I am describing, and it makes for such an engaging story.

The ending admittedly, wrecked me. Actually, the whole novel did. I feel like Don’t Fail Me Now is the complete package when it comes to a good summer contemporary novel. There’s an adventure, great characters, a sweet romance (which doesn’t happen really until the end of the book), family drama and antics — it’s such a well crafted novel, offering so much to the reader. Don’t Fail Me Now begs to be enjoyed by readers, and it does so much, so effortlessly. Easily one of my favourite reads this year so far.

ARC Review – Mosquitoland by David Arnold

21921204Title: Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

There is something quirky and endearing about Mim Malone. She’s absolutely bonkers, her level of trust for people is at an all time low, she is easily attached to things, and all she really wants is her own place in the world. Mim is one of those unforgettable characters who whether you like her or not, doesn’t stray from one’s mind.

Mosquitoland is a page-turner, and there’s something to be said about what is actually happening on the pages versus what makes it a real page turner. This is not in a lot of ways, a plot driven story, which usually makes up an awesome page turner. This book really is a character study and does it in all the right ways. Mim’s losses, the devastating changes in her life, the decisions people have made for her, all instantly connect the reader to her world the people around her. The characters that Mim encounter on her journey are also truly unforgettable, I had a love for creepy Poncho Man, if only because Mim reminded me of Spike from Cowboy Bebop in that instance.

Mim in a lot of ways is one of those problematic characters who gives the reader a lot to contemplate as they are reading. The road trip in this novel is highly entertaining as it is tragic — there’s a lot of unexpected feels in this book, despite it’s overall humourous tone.

There is one problematic element that many readers of the book have brought up and it was the representation of natives and I can agree with that sentiment, because any time Mim brought up her war paint, it made me slightly uncomfortable. On the other hand, I don’t think there was a malicious intent on the author’s part to make readers uncomfortable in that aspect, but at the same time how it in included can be seen as an issue. I won’t go into the spoiler aspects of this, but as a reader you can decide if this aspect bothers you or not. I was uncomfortable, admittedly, but it didn’t ruin my experience with the book on a whole.

Mosquitoland is a fun, crazy, whirlwind that keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. The book will take you on a ride that is both insane and thoughtful. Every time Mim Malone reminds the reader she ‘is not okay’, a part of me felt as though we were connected — that I could help make it okay (even though yes, it’s a book, I get that). However, you want Mim and those around her to work things out, become better, and ultimately this book is about identity, but also letting go of the past and trying to build a better future. I loved my time with this book, and it’s one worth checking out when it releases, especially if you are a lover of quirky, awkward characters!

ARC Review – Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

16081202Title:  Open Road Summer

Author: Emery Lord

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Huge thank you to Walker Children’s and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

This book is cute, fluffy, full of feels and really really sweet. But Reagan was annoying and I didn’t like her and that really killed most of this book for me. I LOVED Dee. I really wish this book would have been WAY more about her. Any part with her was just the best. Matt was super nice too, but he didn’t swoon me as much as it seems he did everyone else.

But man. Reagan. She’s ~the bed girl~. And she WILL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT. And that is something that I hate. I dislike super self-aware people both IRL and in books. It just seems like you’re trying too hard to be something you aren’t. And this was my problem with Reagan. She’s labeled herself SO WELL and then goes around saying how she aims to be unpredictable and someone that can’t be categorized. But she’s ‘the bad girl with a criminal record that loves to drink, wears too few clothes, too high-heels, and too-dark make-up’. Sorry, but THIS IS A LABLE REAGAN. All of her self-aware ‘I am a bad girl with a lot of cleavage’ or ‘I need a cigarette’ or ‘my clothes are so tiny’ moments drove me crazy. I just wanted to say WE GET IT.

I also really didn’t like how she caused so much drama and was so self-centered. Dee puts up with a lot of Reagan’s stuff because Reagan is so broken and needs someone, but then Reagan gets super jealous and dramatic and Dee puts her in her place which made me so happy. I mean, I loved Dee and Reagan’s relationship (there were moments when I teared up with BFF feels), but man, Reagan needed a smack-down.

I also hated how Reagan was judging other girls who were JUST LIKE HERSELF. She was calling girls trampy and trashy and cheap and bitches but then turning around saying how it was unfair that she was labeled those things as well. Despite labeling herself AND those other girls.

So what did I like? I loved Dee and her music. The songs were SO GOOD. I could totally hear them in my head. I loved Matt and how he worked through his problems. I could relate to Corinne and her relationship with Matt. I could understand her motives and even though some of them were shitty, they were real. The whole tour around the USA was so fun to read about too.

Anyway, most everyone else loves this, so if you can get past Reagan then you might really love this too.