I’ve done mini-reviews with graphic novels in the past, but I haven’t done mini-reviews of novels before. But lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with trying to think of lengthy reviews for books and then end up not writing anything. Hence creating this, Just Behind the Cover Reviews. It will give me a chance to review three books without feeling the pressure of writing a huge post for each one – but I can still give it some attention. So let’s get started.
Don’t Say a Word by Amber Lynn Natusch
Author: Amber Lynn Natusch
Series: Hometown Antihero #2
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Triggers: Violence, underage human trafficking, murder, sexual assault
Synopsis: Kylene Danners’s ex-FBI agent father is in prison for murder and she’s hell-bent on getting him out. But trying to investigate in the small town where a defensive lineman is a hero no matter who he tries to kill and the girl who gets him locked up is public enemy number one is dangerous. Dark secrets are everywhere in Jasperville—the kind Ky can’t walk away from.
When rookie FBI agent Cedric Dawson returns to town to finish an open investigation, he goes undercover at her high school—as her ex. Determined to keep her from interfering, Dawson’s plan backfires after Ky gets an anonymous call about missing girls officially labeled as runaways—runaways that didn’t really run away at all.
Because dead girls can’t run.
And they don’t say a word.
I received an eARC of Don’t Say a Word through the Blog Tour hosted by TBR and Beyond, but I wasn’t able to finish before my turn on the tour. That being said, I still want to thank them and the publisher for providing me with a copy so I could review it (even if a little late).
This one starts off shortly after Dare You to Lie. Kylene is recovering from the ending and has started back up at school. She ends up pairing up with Agent Cedric Dawson despite their “complicated relationship” – in other words, they really don’t like each other.
Again, I get a Veronica Mars vibe that I absolutely love about Amber’s writing, without it feeling like a direct copy. I loved the flow of the storytelling – at no point did I feel like it was stalling or too slow. We slowly learned different things about the prostitution ring or we had a complication in one of the relationships. The story didn’t feel predictable, and really there were a lot of suspects – some of them almost too easy. At no point did I suspect who the leader of the prostitution ring was. In fact, it was almost sad who the villain was in this one – or at least he wasn’t the one I was rooting for (or even suspected).
As for relationships, Kylene is stuck between wanting to get back with her ex, AJ, and pretending to be interested in Cedric (who goes undercover and pretends to be her ex from). I have to say, I’m not big on AJ – I definitely wasn’t shipping that relationship. There was nothing wrong with AJ as a character, but I’m hardcore on team Cedric! Although I have to admit, I really don’t like the name Cedric – makes me think of an 80-year-old white man lol. Anywho… the tension between Cedric and Kylene is to die for! I love their hate relationship and I’m rooting for the long-game where they get together in book 3 (for real!).
Overall, I enjoyed Don’t Say a Word and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in Hometown Antihero. Thank you again TBR and Beyond, Amber, and Tor Teen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Author: Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Triggers: Abortion, Feeling of abandonment
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she would wish she’d failed a test until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic in her hands and staring at two solid pink lines. Even the most consistent use of condoms won’t prevent pregnancy when your boyfriend secretly pokes holes in them to keep you from going out-of-state for college.
Veronica needs an abortion, but the closest place she can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away—and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, Veronica turns to the one person she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark—and Veronica’s ex-best friend. Once on the road, Veronica quickly remembers nothing with Bailey is ever simple and that means two days of stolen cars, shotguns, crazed ex-boyfriends, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, and a limo driver named Bob. But the pain and betrayal of their broken friendship can’t be outrun. When their fighting leads to a brutal moment of truth, Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica must risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused
I received an eARC of Unpregnant on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
I have seen lots of people compare Unpregnant to Girls on the Verge. I can honestly agree with that comparison. Both tackle the topic of abortion laws in the United States (southern specifically), both have to go on a road trip, both hide the abortion from their parents. However, they are different from one another. I felt more of a religious conundrum from Girls on the Verge, where Unpregnant never brings it up for debat (well for the most part). In Unpregnant, Veronica knows from the second she finds out she’s pregnant – she knows that she doesn’t want to be pregnant and sets out figuring out how to get an abortion. There is no inner debate about how everyone has always told her how wrong it is, there is no inner turmoil about whether or not she is doing the right or wrong thing. She knows she’s not ready and she sets out to solve it. I’m not saying Veronica has no feelings – there are moments where she wonders if she made the decision for pure selfish reason (perfect Veronica reasons), but I felt there was more emotional impact from Girls on the Verge.
In order to get an abortion, Veronica must travel to New Mexico and at first, she thought her boyfriend would take her. She then finds out that this really isn’t an option, so next step, ask her ex-best friend to take her. The hiccups start after the trip begins. Everything, despite the hiccups, does feel easy and convenient for Veronica. She finds someone to take her easily, there’s magically an appointment available for her despite calling a day before, everything just falls into place. Where Girls on the Verge I was constantly wondering if they would find a solution, Unpregnant doesn’t feel like it has the same stakes.
It’s more about the journey and learning about friendship, and just happens to tackle the topic of abortion rights in the United States, and a sprinkle of LGBTQIA+ while we’re there.
Although I did enjoy the emotional aspect of Girls on the Verge more, I did really like Unpregnant for its friendship and road trip.
9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Triggers: Abortion (talked about)
Synopsis: The irresistible sequel to the bestselling 99 Days.
Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago . . . after all the people she hurt and the family she tore apart.
Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said “I love you” to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a Tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie.
After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. Sadie, who’s dying to go there, jumps at the prospect. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others.
Now Molly has to spend nine days and nine nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new, improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?
This has been a long time coming. I’ve wanted to read the sequel to 99 Days since I read it back in February – okay so not that long, but still. This starts off with Molly in school at Boston. We learn about how she has changed “who she is” and has become a highly calculated, reserved person – especially compared to how she was in Star Lake.
Over 9 days, we follow Molly and her new boyfriend, Ian across Europe. Molly has it carefully planned out to the second, until they run into Gabe and his new girlfriend, Sadie. The disastrous decision to pair up and travel together starts off a spiral that has Molly questioning everything.
I must admit, there was not enough Gabe-time! Every time Ian talked I kept thinking “well that’s nice, but where’s Gabe”. I, admittedly, didn’t read the synopsis prior to picking this up, so I had hoped/assumed it was them meeting up again at college and trying their relationship again *sigh*. That being said, I devoured this book! I finished it in one sitting and loved every second of it. The ending is just *chef’s kiss* perfect! I don’t think I’ve been disappointed with any of Katie Cotugno’s writing yet.
If you want a fun, cute read that happens to take place in different parts of Europe, I highly suggest this one!
Alright, that’s it. Those are the first three books in the new series Just Behind the Cover. I hope this works. Let me know your thoughts.