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review 2018-05-04 14:29
Semi-Cute
Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet. - Katharine McGee,Jennifer L. Armentrout,Dhonielle Clayton,Katie Cotugno,Huntley Fitzpatrick,Jocelyn Davies,Nina LaCour

Your mileage may vary with this collection of short stories, for me though, I just found only a few of the stories, 5 star worthy. The rest were all over the place. I think the biggest issue is having a collection of short stories by 14 different authors definitely showed who can craft a well thought out short story and those who cannot.

 

According to Urban dictionary:
"Scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better)."

 

"Siege Etiquette" by Katie Cotungo (2 stars)-No sorry. The first story in this collection did not start off strong at all. And I would argue barely met the definition of a meet cute. You had the two teens in this story one of which is named Wolf. At that point I was worried I had stumbled into some sparkly vampire nonsense, but nope. We just read how the main character in this story (Hailey) is part of the super popular crowd or used to be until something happened. It takes a long time (for a short story) for the reveal to happen. That said, Hailey and Wolf already knew each other since they had been in elementary school with each other. I didn't really even get the sense that she had plans to talk to him again after they finally got out of their "siege" situation.

 

"Print Shop" by Nina LaCour (3 stars)-This does meet the definition of a meet cute to me. We have the main character (Evie) who goes to work in a print shop because of reasons. There's a mention of her breaking up with her girlfriend and her obsessively checking her ex's twitter or was it Instagram. I don't know. Either way she ends up fixing a print shop order gone wrong and meeting someone new. It was alright, didn't blow my socks off or anything.

 

"Hourglass" by Ibi Zoboi (3 stars)-This whole story pissed me off. I felt like it needed a stronger ending too. The main character is an African American girl named Cherish. Cherish has a selfish asshole friend named Stacy. The biggest issue for me is that I don't think the character of Cherish realizes how wrong she has been done by Stacy. Stacy ends up choosing to be with a boy who has gone after Cherish due to her race. At that point I would be popping smoke and telling Stacy to shove it. I just ended up feeling frustrated by Cherish still obsessing over telling Stacy everything that has gone on with her. 

 

"Click" by Katharine McGee (3 stars)-Shrug. I swear I feel like I have read a similar story to this one before. This story takes place in 2020 and we have a new dating service called Click. It floats back and forth between two characters, Alexa and Raden. There were no real surprises here, I can't lie though, I could see this as a total rom-com. 

 

"The Intern" by Sara Shepard (1 star)-Sorry, this was among my least favorite of these stories. I was not engaged during the entire story-line.

 

"Somewhere That's Green" by Meredith Russo (2 stars)-I swear, this was another storyline that ticked me off while reading. We have one girl (Lexie) who attacks a transgirl (Nia) at her school and talks about safety and a variety of other things that is about her not being allowed to use the bathroom. And somehow this turns into a thing where Lexie is fighting against who she really is or something. 

 

"The Way We Love Here" by Dhonielle Clayton (5 stars)-This was so good. I loved the fantasy elements incorporated into this story. I loved the various ways that you can see how the characters (Sebastian and Viola or Vio) lives can change and how it is left open-ended to see what path they may take knowing what can happen between them. 

 

"Oomph" by Emery Lord (4 stars)- I thought this was an adorable meet cute taking place at an airport. I liked how the story was set up and the ending. 

 

"The Dictionary of You and Me" by Jennifer L Armentrout (1 star)-Sorry from beginning to end this story just didn't work for me at all. It just felt unfinished somehow. And I never want to read the word "zazzy" again. 

 

"The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love" by Jocelyn Davies (5 stars)-You get some math/stats and a young girl determining how likely is it that she is going to see a guy she viewed via another train window. I loved the discussion of soul mates (her parents were hilarious) and how the story is developed. 

 

"259 Million Miles by Kass Morgan (3 stars)-Okay story, after the last one though it was a let down.

 

"Something Real" by Julie Murphy (2 stars)-I know I read this, but I still had to go back since I couldn't even recall this one. It felt like there was too much going on with this one. Okay story, just didn't really enjoy it as much as I did the others.

 

"Say Everything" by Huntley Fitzpatrick (3 stars)-I was surprised I didn't like this one more since I loved this author's book "My Life Next Door."

 

"The Department of Dead Love (5 stars)-This was so good. This is another fantasy short story where people can go and determine why the love between them and another person died. You get interviewed by Heartworkers who diagnose you. Don't want to spoil, but I loved the entire idea about this story. 


So I realized that I tended to like the fantasy/sci-fi elements short stories more. 

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review 2017-05-09 04:27
Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno
Fireworks - Katie Cotugno

Quick review for a progressive read. Katie Cotugno's "Fireworks" was a struggle for me to read in places, but in the end, I'm glad I read it, especially considering the turns it took in the story. The ending was bittersweet and not quite the impression and direction I thought it would go given the beginnings of the story. Yet even saying that, I'll admit I struggled to hold interest in the novel for a while.

The story is told through the viewpoint of Dana, a young woman stuck in a small town with a mother who drinks too much, a job that ended upon her graduation, and a struggle to decide how to escape what seems an inevitable future. Dana's best friend Olivia seems to have everything that Dana doesn't: a supportive family, a college career, and a chance to go to be a part of a pop group in what seems to be like an X-Factor music competition. Olivia begs Dana to accompany her to the competition, but Dana gets the shock of her life when she's asked to be a part of the group after an impromptu competition. Alongside a budding relationship with a guy that's a part of rising boy band maintained by the same manager, things seem to be going well in Dana's circles despite rivalries with her group and rising tensions between herself and her best friend as the practices and training roll on.

One might think this is the kind of novel in which Dana is a special snowflake who gets everything she asks for (the prospective accidental singing career, the boy, the supportive best friend through thick and thin with some moments of emotional tension, etc.) and has a talent that makes her the TCO of the work: but that would be far off the mark, especially as the novel finally hits the ground running in a different direction after the midpoint of the novel. I appreciated that it wasn't so predictable and unrealistic as to paint Dana as a practically perfect underdog heroine. She was selfish and immature on many fronts, but the novel showcases places where she makes mistakes, growing and learning from those decisions/interactions on her own accord. Her emotions are palpable to the encounters/betrayals/relationships she has.

Like Cotugno's other novel "99 Days", the decisions and interactions between the characters aren't so much glorified as they are put into perspective relative to the interactions and passions of the characters within. For another point against the narrative, though, I felt an odd sense of detachment throughout the novel that kept it from being a more meaningful experience for me. For one, the pacing was very slow and the setup in the beginning is so cliche ridden and predictable that it was hard for me to feel invested in Dana's experience. I mean, I got that she got the chance of a lifetime, something that seemed to offer an out to the downcast spiral her life seemed to be. Dana's character, I understood, was incredibly passive and going with the flow, being the odd woman out among vocalists - including Olivia - who had been training their entire lives for the opportunity in this 90s-era singing competition (the novel takes place in the late 90s when boybands/girlbands are all the rage. There are spot references to frame the era, but they're not superfluous. I'd argue that they also weren't as immersive as they could've been, though.)

Dana's narration through the novel is at an odd distance and lacks a passion/immersion that I would've thought could've grown with each experience she had with respect to her experiences in Orlando. The romance in this wasn't poorly done for intent, but again - I felt like I couldn't fully invest in it because of the way it was presented: telling more than it showed. The showcasing of the competition and relationships within was weirdly mechanical in dictation and I wish it could've been more intimate and invested.

The latter part of the novel was actually when I finally became invested as I watched the interactions between Dana and Olivia move in some fluctuating high and low tensions, ultimately culminating in something that was less than ideal. I had a feeling it would likely turn out that way after a point, but I was still surprised. I liked the direction, but I didn't like the execution, and I almost wish that Olivia could've had a narrative perspective to see what she thought on the other end of the events that transpired in this story (because I feel like that would've held my attention by being a different take).

In the end, it was an okay novel, but not really one that I loved from Cotugno. I feel like it could've had much better execution for the intent and premise.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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review 2015-11-07 01:53
99 Days by Katie Cotugno
99 Days - Katie Cotugno

 

99 days of drama and cheating and brothers fighting and friendships torn. I couldn't help it, I really enjoyed the show. I hope there's a continuation or at the very least I hope to hear about these characters in a different book.

I'm looking forward to other books written by this author.

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review 2015-08-17 20:47
99 Days Book Review
99 Days - Katie Cotugno

Ugh. I have never hated the main characters more in a book than in 99 Days. And I'm honestly trying to decide if I hate Molly, Patrick, Julia or Gabe the most. And, the sad part is the author tried to make us sympathize with a bunch of teenagers who do awful things to each other and a protagonist who cheats with two brothers. 

 

Molly is back for the summer and wants to be anywhere but home. After her mom's book came out and her secret with it all of Molly's friends now hate her. Because she cheated on Patrick with his brother Gabe. 

 

This actually didn't start off too terribly and I was able to get through the beginning pretty quickly. But everyone became more horrible to one another the further the plot line moved along. The fact that two brothers would do this to one another? I think that's what bothered me the most about this book. Not to mention a mother who writes about her daughters secret relationship in a bestseller. Big NO. 

 

Some may enjoy 99 Days, for its not terribly written or anything. It is different than our typical contemporary YA. I just can't get passed how awful everyone is in this story and would not personally recommend it. 

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review 2015-06-21 21:59
Review: 99 days by Katie Cotugno
99 Days - Katie Cotugno

Quick review for a not-so quick read, but to me was still worth the time. Oh, how the heck am I going to expound upon this book? It's a hard sell and I understand the range of emotions as to how people whether really liked it or absolutely loathed the experience of reading it. The pretty cover on my edition of this book will fool you. You come in thinking that this might be a happy-go-lucky novel of relationships, but then you read the blurb and the collective story and think "THIS IS NOT LIGHT AND FLUFFY! THAT COVER'S LIGHT AND FLUFFY, DANGNABIT!!!"

So if you're looking for something lighthearted or with swoon worthy characters, please exit off the monorail to the right right now because that's not happening with this novel.

My jests aside, notice if you're reading my tags/shelves for this book that I'm not putting this as a romance novel. I absolutely refuse to. It's not a romance novel as much as it is a relationship novel with tough leanings, and I'll at least give Cotugno credit for dealing with a pretty taboo subject matter in a responsible way, even if multiple characters' actions weren't anywhere near responsible for the scheme of events that occurred in "99 Days."

I'll admit two things upfront for you guys before I dive into this review fully:

1. I do not typically like novels with cheating relationships. I rather detest them because more often than not, quite many a time in the scheme of romance novels, they're not treated with the gravity/weight/repercussions that they have in real life. There's always this thing where people say "Oh she was better with the guy she cheated on anyway, it's okay just because he's hot/cute/sexy/whatever" justification that makes the moral transgression less significant and focus more on the romantic ship. Not to mention, the difficult emotions and relationships are dropped faster than a blink in favor for the HEA.

I find that stereotypical portrayal to be full of B.S., because cheating is a real thing and with respect to relationships: it HURTS. (I don't know about this kind of thing personally, but I've known people who've gone through the emotional gauntlet and aftermath of it.) But - and this is a caveated "but" - I can read it to an extent when I can see the way it affects the characters contained within and when the gravity of the situations and people involved comes across. I can also read it when the characters are fully developed/realized and I can figure out what they're thinking and feeling in the scheme of the decisions they make and such.

2. I can read novels about unlikable characters and their actions/relationships if the narrative has a strong enough pull and immersion where I can say "Okay, I understand why the POV character and the supporting characters think and feel the way they do." Personal relationships are complex in terms of understanding and watching them unfold, so only examining them in a single handed/dimensioned way - to me - undervalues the experience. It is especially undervaluing if it's notably skewed to a certain POV, rather than the actual relationships and build in the novel itself.

That being said, my experience with Cotugno's "99 Days" was fair. I won't say I enjoyed this novel, but I did appreciate it because it's rare that I see a YA novel go "there" when it comes to portraying relationships of this measure. Reading the situations felt like pulling teeth at times, but with the reality of the situation itself, that was pretty much a given.

To the novel's premise, Molly has 99 days before she has to go to college, and she's forced to go back to the hometown she left behind where she's been branded a social outcast. Reason? She was involved with a guy (Patrick), was dumped by said guy, and ended up having a one-night stand with said guy's brother (Gabe). She does not tell Patrick that she slept with guy, but Molly's mother decides - after her daughter confesses to the whole mess - to use the situation as fuel to write a bestselling novel.

And Molly's secrets are secrets no more. She's branded as a "slut" and relentlessly bullied and shamed into silence and hiding (which led to her stint in boarding school).

Suffice to say, Molly does not get a welcome homecoming, at least not by her former best friends - one who is the sister to the brothers, and the other who was going through her own personal pains and was subsequently abandoned by Molly when she abruptly left town.

Molly is a selfish, conceited brat. Don't get me wrong. That's her fatal flaw. I didn't like her, didn't respect the decisions she made, wanted to throw her out with the bathwater several times as I read her perspective and watched her fall into similar situations that she described being a part of previously. I knew this, but I did vividly watch her experiences, affections, and somewhat coming to terms here. She's a young woman, but very naive and careless with her relationships. I don't know if her coming to terms was as grounded, developed, and progressive as it could've been, but I saw it.

I equally raged at Gabe and Patrick's actions (because they used Molly for their own motivations/conflicts, but I don't know if that was as focused upon as Molly's experiences because they weren't front and center.) I liked that the narrative did expound on the unfair blame game that women often get subjected to in this measure, as well as the bullying and inner dialogue of guilt and examination of relationship complications, but I feel like that message was somewhat lost in the scheme of events in this novel, especially with Molly pretty much not learning from her mistakes until yet another crash and burn situation occurred. For what it's worth, though, Cotugno does deal with the realism of the situation, rather than glossing over it for a certain "ship" or formula that would remove the weight of the emotions of people involved in it, including Molly herself.

I feel like this could've been a fuller novel than what it was, though. I appreciated the attempt of what it aimed for, but didn't particularly care for how it was executed, and that's probably what has me sitting right on the fence. I valued the time taken for this, but at the same time - I feel like the way it came across didn't really make the most of the subject matter, especially considering the weight of it.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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