Author: Katie Cotugno

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ARC Review: Fireworks

April 11, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

ARC Review: FireworksFireworks by Katie Cotugno
Published by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray on April 18th 2017
Pages: 336
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: 99 Days
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two-stars

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

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.
It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.
But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.
It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.
Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

This was yet another book that I really wanted to like. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about this author, but I feel like I’m missing something. I strongly disliked 99 Days and I couldn’t even make it through How to Love. Sadly, none of her books have been for me. I thought this one would definitely be my cup of tea since it takes place in the 90’s and also involves boy and girl bands. I’m sure many contemporary fans will like this one, but not me. Fireworks had a lot of potential that it sadly didn’t live up to. The writer is good, but the plot and characters didn’t work at all. I doubt I’ll be reading any other books from this author in the future.

If you’re a fan of realistic contemporary stories, you’ll probably have some issues right off the bat with this one. The story revolves around Dana going to this audition to support her best friend Olivia. Somehow though, Dana gets roped into auditioning. She’s NEVER had any type of vocal lessons or any musical theater experience in her life, yet we’re supposed to believe that the man in charge picks her over all the more experienced girls? Nope, I don’t buy that this would happen to her just because she’s pretty.

It also takes place in the 90’s, which I originally thought was awesome. Truthfully, I found myself forgetting the time period most of the time. It didn’t seem like it took place back then besides a few TLC and Spice Girl references. The love interest of the story happens to be in a boy band, yet there’s no references to any other boy bands that were around in that time period. Maybe she was just trying to be creative, but I felt like that would have made the book just a little better. I hope that more people write stories that take place in the 90’s in the future, but only if they actually make it seem like it’s that decade.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. I liked how sex positive it was all around. I just didn’t think Alex was a great character. He didn’t have much development, his whole purpose was basically to continually tell Dana how wonderful and perfect she is. Aside from that, we truly don’t know much else about him besides the fact that he comes from a decent family and has money. Did anyone else think it was creepy as hell how he would just randomly pop up literally everywhere that Dana would go by herself? For example, she goes down to the pool in the middle of the night, and he just randomly pops out of nowhere. It was a little weird in my opinion.

I think it’s misleading that people consider this to be a friendship novel. Going into this, I was expecting a really positive and strong female friendship but that’s not what I got. Without saying too much, the friendship is not what I was expecting it to be. Olivia is an unlikable character. I did sympathize with the fact that she had an eating disorder. Maybe it’s because one of my best friends struggles with an eating disorder, but I felt like it wasn’t treated with respect. It felt more like a plot device than something that was truly explored and developed. It bothered me that not only Dana but especially the adults didn’t take her eating disorder more seriously. This is an issue that so many teens deal with, and I felt like it could have been more carefully written as a whole.

Even though this book just released, it already seems as if I’m in the minority with my opinion. I don’t think that this author is bad by any means, but it seems like her style and plots just don’t match up with the books that I enjoy reading. If you’re able to get past all of the cliches and unrealistic things, you might like this book. Don’t get me wrong, this book wasn’t absolutely terrible. I didn’t have to force myself to read it, I was pretty sucked into it. I just wasn’t able to get past all of the other key elements of the story.

two-stars

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99 Days Review

September 3, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 2

99 Days Review99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 384
Source: Library
Also by this author: Fireworks
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Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the writing and I think it was a creative concept. However, I wasn’t able to connect with Molly at all and wasn’t a fan of the decisions that she made. All in all, this is a quick read that always holds your interest, I just had a problem with how some of the events turned out in the end. I’ve also made it clear that I hate love triangles and I thought this one wasn’t going to be one of those types of stories, but unfortunately it did become one and that made me less interested in the story completely.

Molly ran away from her town after her longtime boyfriend Patrick discovered her affair with his older brother Gabe through a book that her mother wrote about Molly’s experiences. Now Molly is back in the town for the summer before she leaves for college and she’s trying to make amends with the people that she hurt. Gabe is back for the summer from college and seems to be the only person who is on her side and sticks up for her. Then Molly becomes confused for her feelings for him when the boy she loved for so long, Patrick, returns for the summer.

I don’t want to ruin too much here but the one thing I hate more than love triangles in YA books is cheating. Yes, Molly made a mistake and I don’t think that she deserves to be treated so poorly when Gabe is treated exactly the same way. I like that he also has a problem with this and I instantly liked him when he took responsibility for his involvement in the affair. I really loved Gabe and felt like he truly cared about Molly in a way that his brother never did but Molly isn’t as aware of this as she should be. One thing that I did enjoy was the female friendship here. Molly has to repair a lot of friendships that she abandoned when she took off and ran away from all her problems. She slowly gains back the friendship of her old best friend and gains a new friend in Tess, who also happens to be her ex boyfriend Patrick’s new girlfriend. This obviously is an interesting and sort of cliché friendship, but I like that they do bond since most new girlfriends in YA books seem to have it out for the old girlfriend but Tess is nothing but nice.

I recommend 99 Days specifically for people who love contemporary romance YA. If you have an issue with love triangles or cheating, I would recommend just passing up on this one even though there still may be some parts of the book that you might enjoy. Most of the reviews that I’ve read for this one are either people who absolutely loved the book or it just didn’t click for them. I say that you give it a shot because it isn’t a heavy read, you’ll likely finish it in just a day or two so check it out if it sounds like something you’d be interested in!

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