Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway: This Much Is True by Katherine Owen

Blog tour banner for This Much Is True by Katherine Owen

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for This Much Is True by Katherine Owen! This Much Is True is the first book in the Truth in Lies series, and as part of my stop today I’ve got an excerpt from the book as well as two giveaways courtesy of the author. Happy reading!

About This Much Is True

Book cover for This Much Is True by Katherine Owen

Both on the verge of fame. A ballerina who lies. A baseball player who believes her. Well, the truth changes everything.

Tally Landon is just trying to survive the death of her twin sister, graduate from high school, and escape her tragic story by pursuing her ballet career in New York. She doesn’t count on Lincoln Presley, Stanford’s baseball wonder, to affect her at all. Adding him to a long list of one-night stands is the plan. Lying to him about her age and name is her standard method of operandi. She doesn’t count on being found out, on seeing him again, or falling in love.

Lincoln Presley’s life is all mapped out for him. There is only baseball. With Major League Baseball circling their favorite prospect with a lucrative offer, he cannot afford to mess up. And, he doesn’t; until he meets up with the girl he saved in that burning wreckage on the 101 on Valentine’s Day months before. By the time he learns her real name and of all the lies she’s told, he’s in far too deep to ever really let her go.

Fate has a different set of plans, but when fame and lies tear them apart, one truth remains.

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Excerpt from Chapter 30 of This Much Is True

Tally’s POV:

Marla announces she wants babies. Three babies in five years. She looks at me. I start to feel nauseous and must turn a little white. I look away from her and allow myself to think all these nasty thoughts. Three babies in five years with Charlie? Are you fucking kidding me? That doesn’t add up on any girl’s wish list. Charlie Masterson. A father? Say it isn’t so.

Yet she lays out this family plan the way you’d say, “After yoga, I’ll go to Lia’s for the mani-special and then wax on about hairstyles and hemlines until dinner.”

If I were gifted at making long-term plans, which by now we all know I’m not, and if I was at all hopeful, which we all know that I can never be, although it crosses my mind that it’s entirely possible these are all just huge, fucking, temporary setbacks and nothing more, even though it’s been going on for over three years now, since Holly died, and I met Lincoln Presley. Events that could be construed as somehow inevitably related. Yes, perhaps there’s an expiration date on the said pursuit of unhappiness. Perhaps, things will eventually go my way after I actually discover what that way is supposed to be.

About Katherine Owen

Author photo for Katherine OwenKatherine Owen writes contemporary edgy fiction, which translates to: she writes love stories that are contemporary in setting and both edgy and dark. Some readers term her books emotional roller coasters. With her writing, Owen admits she has a fondness for angst, likes to play with a little drama, and essentially toys around with the unintentional complications of love. She contends this began early on when she won a poetry contest at the age of fourteen and appears to be without end. Owen has an avid love of coffee, books, and writing, but not necessarily in that order. She writes both Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction which includes her bestselling TRUTH IN LIES Series (a series despite despising ‘series’) beginning with This Much Is True and her latest release, The Truth About Air & Water. The TRUTH IN LIES series is fan-driven. So. There will be a third book about Linc and Tally released in 2015 titled Tell Me Something True.

About Owen’s fiction…This is NOT the light trope stuff. She travels a unique, writerly path and enjoys writing dark and angsty (a “non-word” she is fond of) emotional love stories. She often warns readers to be prepared with: time, tissues, wine, Advil or your drug of choice. And, as her most favored character, Lincoln Presley, would say, “do what you must, Princess.”

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Giveaways

Katherine is generously giving away copies of This Much Is True and its sequel The Truth About Air & Water. For a chance to win, please fill out the Rafflecopter forms below. Good luck!

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Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger Book Cover Winger
Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Review:

I need to stop letting books affect me like this. I’m going to wind up in the loony bin one of these days.

Winger threw me for a loop. My head is spinning, and I’m a little upset right now. As a result, please forgive me if this review isn’t completely logical or clear. To help you out, I’ll tell you up front what you need to know: you have to get your hands on this book. Right now.

Winger is one of those books that’s so special and fun that you feel privileged to have the chance to read it, and I enjoyed it so much that I started mentally writing my review before I was even finished with the novel. I had quotes ready to showcase just how gut-bustingly funny Smith’s writing is and how it made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe. I was prepared to mention phrases such as “catastrophic penis injury” and “‘I’m going to write you a sonnet about how nothing could possibly be gayer than writing your friend a haiku.’”

I was ready to gush and on about how happy this story made me, and how it is such a warm, feel-good tale with unforgettable characters, an entertaining plot, and enough clever pranks and stunts to keep me chuckling to myself for the next month. I was going to mention how the comics and diagrams that accompany the text really enhance the story and planned to rave about the loveable protagonist, the excellent portrayal of the rugby team’s camaraderie, and the million other things I loved about this book.

And then, out of nowhere – BAM! – the whole book did a complete 180. It felt like my previously fun, adorable puppy had just turned around and tried to rip my face off.

I can’t tell you what, exactly, happened to make me feel such a sense of shock and betrayal. That would be cheating, and it would ruin the book for you. Just know this: despite how much it messed me up, I still can’t recommend Winger enough. There is no doubt that this book is exceptional, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take the time to read it.

Review: Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Boy Toy Book Cover Boy Toy
Barry Lyga

Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.  Five years ago, Josh’s life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town—seems like the world—thinks they understand. But they don’t—they can’t.

And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces. First there’s Rachel, the girl he thought he’d lost years ago. She’s back, and she’s determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not. 

Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won’t stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink. 

And then there’s Eve. Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh’s past. It’s time for Josh to face the truth about what happened.

If only he knew what the truth was . . .

Review:

I used to work for a local newspaper, and one of my tasks was typing up the weekly police blotter. Most of the contents of the blotter were your run-of-the-mill car accidents, petty theft, or disorderly conduct, but every now and then a report of child molestation would come across my desk. The reports were sickening, and each time I typed up the details of the incident I would ask myself a) how someone could be twisted enough to engage in a sexual relationship with a child and b) how that relationship had come about in the first place.

Barry Lyga explores the answers to those questions, and more, in Boy Toy. The story centers on Josh Mendel, a senior in high school who, five years earlier, was involved in a full-blown affair with his seventh-grade history teacher. The book goes back and forth between the present and the past, taking you through the life of the affair from beginning to end and showing the impact it has on Josh’s life five years after the fact.

The amazing thing about Boy Toy is that even though it’s about a very heavy subject, it’s still compelling. I honestly could not stop reading it – I switched from my small purse to my jumbo diaper bag of a purse just so I could carry Boy Toy with me everywhere I went. I wanted to hear Josh’s story. I wanted to understand. How on earth did a 12-year-old boy end up having sex with his teacher? What did the teacher see in him? How was their relationship discovered? What were the implications for Josh later, as a teenager?

What’s brilliant about Lyga’s writing is that he makes you look at things in ways you’d never expect. For one thing, I never would have anticipated that I would sympathize with Eve, the woman who molested Josh. This isn’t to say I think what she does is right – there’s no doubt that it is twisted and wrong and incredibly screwed up. Rather, what I’m trying to say is that Eve is more than just your cardboard villain. She seems like a real person, with complicated motivations and clear strengths as well as clear weaknesses. She seems to truly care about Josh in her own messed up way, taking him on dates, cooking for him, cheering him on at his baseball games, etc. Where it all goes wrong is in the progression of their relationship from platonic to physical.

Lyga has caught some flack for the intensity of the sex scenes in Boy Toy. Some readers argue that the scenes are gratuitous and inappropriate, focusing on feelings of excitement and eroticism rather than trauma or violation. I disagree with those readers wholeheartedly; I think the fact that the sex scenes are so hot and heavy is part of what makes the book successful.

Before you start calling me a sick creep, let me explain. I do find it disturbing and twisted that Josh’s teacher seduced him, but I can’t deny that if the scenes were written between two consenting adults rather than a teacher and underage student, they’d be incredibly arousing. Reading the details of Josh’s sexual encounters triggered warring emotions of disgust, excitement, and shame, which is exactly what Josh feels when he thinks back to his experiences with his teacher. It put me in Josh’s shoes and helped me realize just how confused and conflicted he must have felt.

Lyga’s ability to make his readers see things from the point of view of his characters is one of his many gifts as a writer. It’s scary how easy it is to understand why Eve falls for Josh. He’s different from the other kids at his school, mature for his age, precocious, thoughtful. Even at 12 he is almost as tall as Eve herself. He’s capable of holding meaningful conversations with her, of understanding her humor and making her laugh in return.

Josh at 18, the age he is when recounting the events of the book, is no less amazing. He’s insanely smart, with a nearly photographic memory and the ability to calculate the square root of 52 or the product of 12 and 144 in his head. He’s enthralled by the stars and planets. He dedicates himself to working hard at all that he does, whether in the classroom or on the baseball diamond, where he’s a star hitter.

It’s incredibly fascinating to watch Josh try to come to terms with what happened to him all those years ago, to witness him trying to deal with the guilt and the embarrassment of knowing that everyone in his town knows all the details of his sex life. He’s got a great voice, with a compelling blend of attitude and self-consciousness. I developed a bit of a book crush on him, and he’ll go down in my mind as one of my all-time favorite characters.

Barry Lyga is an author who never disappoints me. He always presents a unique perspective, troubled but enthralling characters, and a plot that keeps you interested from start to finish. I strongly encourage you to go out and read Boy Toy. I know I’ll be revisiting it over and over again.

Review: Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

Wild Cards Book Cover Wild Cards
Simone Elkeles

Love is the toughest game of all.

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain – people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her star-quarterback boyfriend betrays them all. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek – someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

Review:

(Actual Rating: 2.5 stars)

As the saying (kind of) goes, this ain’t my first Simone Elkeles rodeo. I’ve read her work before, so when I picked Wild Cards up at the library I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. I knew, for example, that the cast list would likely include a Cocky Dream Boy; a Feisty Hot Girl resistant to Cocky Dream Boy’s advances; and Feisty Hot Girl’s Jerk Boyfriend, whose primary purpose is to serve as a foil to Cocky Dream Boy.

I knew that Cocky Dream Boy and Feisty Hot Girl would initially butt heads yet feel an undeniable attraction to one another. I knew there would be a surplus of flirtation, daring banter, and attempts to one-up each other. I knew there would be cheesy monologues and steamy love scenes. I knew, too, that in the end the characters would have a Huge Epiphany resulting in Grand Declarations of the Transforming Power of Love.

Because I did know what I was signing up for, I enjoyed the book more than I otherwise would have. If I’d been expecting a fresh new take on relationships or a subtle and sophisticated romance, I would have been disappointed. As it was, I knew going into it that a lot of the dialogue would be ridiculous and that the intimate scenes would be hot but not exactly realistic. I was able to appreciate the book as it was and not hope for it to be something more.

Therefore, it wasn’t a problem for me to sit back and allow myself to be entertained by the plot and the banter, only occasionally cringing at lines like, “I can’t promise you everythin’ you want,” followed by, “Just promise me tonight, Derek.” I was able to ignore the weak areas and focus instead on the appealing parts. Ashtyn’s friends, for example, though given limited page time, have a ton of personality. I also liked the fact that Ashtyn is a nicely balanced character – she’s a strong, tough football player, but she also has a softer, more vulnerable side, getting freaked out by spiders and letting herself cry over a boy. Derek, too, is a likable character, quick-witted, sexy, and with a soft spot for his five-year-old stepbrother.

So, bottom line: if you’re expecting the next great American novel, this probably isn’t for you. If you’re ok with a book that has some flaws but will keep you interested and add some spice to your Friday night, then Wild Cards isn’t a bad choice.