Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition!

Posted March 20, 2017 by Madalyn || 14 Comments

Hey guys! So, for today’s post, I thought I’d switch it up and write a series of mini-reviews for some of the books I’ve read recently. I’ve read a decent amount of contemporaries lately that I don’t have a *ton* of things to say about, but that I still want to discuss with you guys! Without further ado, let’s talk about the books.

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition!The King of Bourbon Street (NOLA Nights, #1) by Thea de Salle
Published by Pocket Star on February 13th 2017
Pages: 304

Hotel chain mogul Sol DuMont is about to learn that some of life’s biggest surprises come in deceptively small packages—namely a petite heiress named Rain who’s hell-bent on upsetting her family’s expectations—in this first book in the all new series by Thea de Salle, set against the sultry backdrop of New Orleans.
Thirty-seven-year-old Sol DuMont is a divorcee and the owner of a mid-sized hotel chain in New Orleans. Since Hurricane Katrina, his father’s death, and the decision that he and his ex-wife Maddy are far better off friends than lovers, he’s lost interest in almost everything he held dear—parties, people, and pushing limits.
All his limits.
Then Arianna Barrington checks into his hotel.
Twenty-four-year-old Arianna “Rain” Barrington could have been society’s sweetheart. Her family is moneyed, connected press darlings, and make sweeping headlines from coast to coast for reasons both good and bad. But when her mother shoves her at Charles Harwood—the obnoxious, entitled heir of Harwood Corp—to cement a billion-dollar business merger, Rain does the only thing she can think of to escape: she creates a scandal so big Harwood doesn’t want her anymore before fleeing to New Orleans for much-needed rest and relaxation.
All she wants is jazz piano, beignets, and to sail the Mississippi. What she gets is Sol DuMont, a whirlwind affair, and a hands-on education in sex, power play, and pushing limits.
All her limits.

This was such a pleasant surprise! Romance isn’t usually my genre of choice, but sometimes I get a craving for a romance novel, and this one didn’t disappoint. Quite frankly, my aversion to romance usually stems from the misogyny and heteronormativity that run rampant in that genre, so The King of Bourbon Street was super refreshing on that front. Our female MC is fat, while our male MC is queer (a label is never specified, I don’t think). I loved that our Rain’s weight was never treated as a fetish, and she never hated on her own body. This was definitely a super steamy read. It features an age difference and a sub/dom relationship, if those are your thing. Overall, this is one of the best romances I’ve read recently! Super hot, super fat positive (more of this, please!), and generally a fun, quick read. Oh, and if you’re still not sold on reading this book? Rain has an adorable corgi named Freckles.

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition!The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 20th 2016
Pages: 341

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

This book is probably my favorite of the bunch. I love, love, love a dark YA contemporary, and The Female of the Species definitely fits the bill. It’s a brutal, honest exploration of rape culture and misogyny. The story is told through three POVs– which McGinnis handled masterfully, I must say– and all of the main characters are flawed (or “morally gray,” as all the cool kids say), which makes the story all the more real. While reading this, I kind of felt like I was being repeatedly punched in the stomach, but there was also some genius dark humor woven throughout. I don’t know, man, I just can’t form coherent thoughts on this book, but I can tell you that it’s one I think everyone should read (just don’t go in expecting a feel-good YA contemporary). Trigger warning for sexual assault, rape, murder, and animal cruelty.

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition!We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on February 14th 2017
Pages: 234

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

I wanted to love We Are Okay. I really did. Nina Lacour has written some of my all-time favorite books, but this one fell a little short for me. The prose is stunning, no doubt. However, the story just didn’t capture me. Also, after the big twist was revealed, it just felt overdone… like something I’ve read or watched before. I really liked the friendship between Marin and Mabel, and I adored how wonderful Mabel’s family was. As always in Lacour’s books, the representation was excellent; Marin is a lesbian, and Mabel is Latina and bisexual. I also enjoyed that the book involved college-aged characters and was set at a university, but it didn’t read like a “new adult” book– I’d love to see more of this in YA! This was a quietly powerful book, which was fitting for the subject matter. We Are Okay is certainly a poignant exploration of grief and loss, but it definitely left me feeling underwhelmed.

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition!The Melody of You and Me (Lillac Town, #1) by M. Hollis
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on February 19th 2017
Pages: 144

After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?

This novella is too cute! It’s an f/f romance set in a bookstore, so basically, reading this felt like wish-fulfillment for me. I love that The Melody of You and Me involves a romance with little to no drama, and of course I always love stories where queer people get happy endings. The representation in this one rocks, too. It’s one of the few books I’ve read with a pansexual MC, and our love interest is a Filipina lesbian. Plus, it’s very sex-positive! Basically, it’s a wonderfully adorable, diverse read, and I can’t wait to read the companion novel, The Paths We Choose, which comes out in a few short weeks!

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Edition!The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 14th 2017
Pages: 336

Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not, and Wing is all too aware of this.
Until the night when everything changes. Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry—could Marcus, the golden boy, really have done something so irresponsible, so reckless? She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother’s and grandmothers’ grief. To make matters worse, the bank is threatening to repossess her family’s house because all their money is going to pay her brother’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. With the breeze in her hair and her feet pounding the dirt for hours and hours, she can imagine she is keeping Marcus’s heart beating. If she runs hard enough, maybe he’ll wake up. Maybe she’ll free her family.
When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team—and better still, a shot at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This is one of those books I simply don’t have much to say about. I enjoyed Wing Jones, but I didn’t think it was anything revolutionary. I loved the character growth Wing undergoes throughout the book, and I also really loved how central a role Wing’s family played in her life (her grandmas were probably my favorite characters in the book). I wasn’t completely sold on the romance, though. One other thing I adored about this book was the setting: it’s set in Atlanta (my city) in the 90’s! I loved the homage to my city– I saw a lot of the city I know and love portrayed in this book, even though the story leaves off shortly after I would have been born, lol. I really appreciate that the author didn’t whitewash Atlanta. In that vein, though I really appreciated the diversity in this book, I felt as though the author (a white woman) was maybe writing outside her lane at times?  The cultural elements seemed well-researched and respectful, but the authenticity of a true #ownvoices book was missing. Idk. I’ll update this post once I do more research into her writing process and once I find reviews by people who are part of the cultures portrayed in the book. The bottom line? I liked this book; I just didn’t love it.


Have you read any of these books? If so, tell me your thoughts! If not, do you plan to read them?

Follow me!

Madalyn

Madalyn is a 20-something music student and lifelong lover of reading. When she's not reading or singing, you're likely to find her drinking coffee, traveling, or buying more lipstick than one person could possibly need.
Follow me!
  • The King of Bourbon Street looks so good! I love me a great romance read! Love these mini reviews 🙂

  • Lovely post Madalyn! I recently read and loved Wing Jones for how diverse and unique it was! I cannot wait to read We Are Okay even though I have heard it is average, which is disappointing!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    • Thank you! I hope you have better luck with We Are Okay than I did– it definitely has a quiet beauty to it; I think my expectations were just too high going in.

  • I am so mad I didn’t pick up The Female of the Species when it was on sale a while ago now! I stll want to read We Are Okay but have seen more meh reviews and that makes me want to push it down the TBR. Great reviews!

  • I really enjoyed all of your mini-reviews, but especially the one for The Female of the Species! I absolutely adored that book, even though I very rarely read contemporaries, but even rarer do I real DARK, issues contemps. It’s such a relevant and important read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • Thanks so much! I really, really enjoyed The Female of the Species; I agree that it’s so important and, unfortunately, way too relevant.

  • The Female of the Species sounds really good! Added it to my TBR! x

  • Tempted to read King of Bourbon Street because I love NOLA haha. And thanks for the remind to check out The Female of the Species! I heard it was dark! Glad to see you enjoyed it! Great reviews, Madalyn!

  • After reading your thoughts on The Female of the Species I really want to give it a shot. It sounds like a good read.