ARC Review: Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan (Jessica's Review)

Title: Unpregnant
Authors: Jenny Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 272 Pages
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019

Summary: 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.

This was one of my most anticipated 2019 debuts, so when I found out that copies were going to be given away at BookExpo this year, I was practically over the moon. Needless to say, I started the line for the drop two whole hours early, and I was the first one on line and got the first copy they gave out. Which means I tore into it as soon as I got home, sped through it because it was so good, and then immediately wrote and scheduled my review ten seconds after finishing it, so I could get my thoughts out while the book was still fresh in my mind. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Veronica, as careful and as expert of a planner as she is, suddenly finds herself pregnant, unsure of how. Her and her boyfriend were nothing but safe -- but then she finds out that Kevin was secretly poking holes in the condoms as a way of getting her pregnant so he can guilt her into dropping out of Brown and staying with him. Veronica is, understandably, not on board with this decision, and she decides she needs an abortion, but she still is trying to preserve her perfect image that everyone at school sees when they look at her. Which is how she finds herself on the world's most chaotic, stressful, odd roadtrip with her ex-best friend and current social pariah Bailey Butler, traveling nearly one thousand miles to get a procedure that she doesn't even want anyone to know she needs.

This was, hands down, one of the funniest books that I've read in a long time. I never thought I'd see myself writing a review about how an abortion book was hysterical, but alas, here we are! There were so many hysterical scenes, jokes, and lines throughout this book that I just kept stopping to take pictures and send Snapchats of the funniest lines to my boyfriend, and also Emily and Amber. Even the acknowledgements were hilarious!! Another thing that I really liked about this book was how short the chapters were, because it made the reading experience breeze by. I finished this entire book in 24 hours because I kept wanting to know what was going to happen next, and the short chapters definitely lended to an easier reading experience, in a way.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Bailey. She was so headstrong, always sharing her honest thoughts and opinions, adventurous and unapologetically herself. Every time she was on the page, I felt myself cheering for her and laughing at her antics, even when she made some...shall I say...interesting decisions. (I won't tell you what they are, though -- read it yourself to find out!) I also think Veronica's character arc was really well fleshed-out from beginning to end, and you see her change in the best of ways.

Another thing that I really appreciated about this book was the way that such an important, often heavy topic was managed with so much humor and levity, but the important message behind being pro-choice still remained the same. The entire fact that Veronica had to travel nearly a thousand miles for the procedure because of in-state laws was one factor of it, and also the scenes where you see the abortion protesters really brings it to light as well. Another aspect of this that I think was really well-done is the fact that Veronica herself used to be a "church kid", so you see her come to terms with knowing what she was taught as a child about abortion (and also other Christian "sinful" topics such as homosexuality) were misguided and very black-and-white when the world doesn't actually operate that way. I think approaching the subject from that angle as someone who used to be on the "other side" adds another layer of contemplation, and hopefully people reading the book who are currently (or were formerly) in Veronica's shoes as a church-raised individual can see the harm in preaching hatred for something that so many women have to undergo every single day, making decisions about their own bodies, even if it isn't something that someone else would necessarily want to get done themselves. I'm going to attempt to show a lot of my pro-life family members this book, and hopefully it will open their eyes a little bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Unpregnant. If you're looking for a quick, hilarious read this September, I'd definitely urge you to check this one out and add it to your TBR, which you can do by clicking the Goodreads button a little closer to the top of this post, nestled among the other book information. This book will have you laughing from start to finish, flipping the pages faster than the speed of light, and you'll also be super disappointed when it's over. This is like no other road trip book you've ever read before, in the best of ways. I'll definitely be reading more of Jenni and Ted's work in the future! 


Review: Kim Reaper, Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings by Sarah Graley

Title: Kim Reaper, Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings
Author: Sarah Graley
Publisher: Oni Press
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Paperback, 112 Pages
Published March 2018

Summary: Like most university students, Kim works a part-time job to make ends meet. Unlike most university students, Kim's job is pretty cool: she's a grim reaper, tasked with guiding souls into the afterlife. Like most university students, Becka has a super intense crush. Unlike most university students, Becka's crush is on a beautiful gothic angel that frequents the underworld. Of course, she doesn't know that. Unaware of the ghoulish drama she's about to step into, Becka finally gathers up the courage to ask Kim on a date! But when she falls into a ghostly portal and interrupts Kim at her job, she sets off a chain of events that will pit the two of them against angry cat-dads, vengeful zombies, and perhaps even the underworld itself. But if they work together, they just might make it... and maybe even get a smooch in the bargain.

I received a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review from Margot Wood and the lovely team over at Oni Press. As someone who hadn't read a lot of graphic novels before this, I was talking to Margot about how I wanted to get into more of them, but I wasn't sure where to start as someone who really likes contemporary and/or comedy, but I wasn't a huge fantasy fan, so I felt stuck and unsure of where to start. Luckily, Margot saved the day by sending me a stack of graphic novels to try, and Kim Reaper was one of them! So, without further ado, let's get into my review!

I thought this was a really funny story, especially with all of the illustrations and different characters and the inside jokes and everything. I thought the grim reaper council was hilarious, especially with how incompetent they all seemed, and just the idea of a college student getting paid to be a part-time grim reaper was really funny in and of itself. This book is definitely super hilarious, so if you're looking for a laugh, I'd recommend picking this on up.

I really liked Kim's character, especially all of her outfits, which I thought were super adorable. However, Becka's character actually annoyed me a little bit. It's hard to put my finger on it, but she just seemed really immature and I didn't find her jokes all of that funny, and she got on my nerves a lot of the times where she was on the page. Which I don't think is any issue with the story itself, she just wasn't really a character that I vibed with. She seemed really pushy and irritating. But like I said, I absolutely loved Kim's character. The gym guy with the cats was also pretty funny. Until he, you know...yeah. I'll just let you read the book to find that one out.

The illustrations in this book were also really well done, and I loved all of the purples and pinks and blacks, that whole goth-teen vibe that threw me back to Hot Topic days. I really like Sarah Graley's illustration style, which I also recognized from Our Super Adventure, with all of the bright colors that pop and the glossy pages and everything. 

Overall, I liked reading Kim Reaper. It wasn't my favorite, but it's definitely a good book to pick up if you're looking for a quick laugh. I breezed through this one because the story was so fast-paced that I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, so it's one that I'd definitely recommend if you're looking to boost your Goodreads Reading Challenge but you find yourself short on time!


Interview with Alison Gervais the author of The Silence Between Us!

Hello! Today we have an interview with author Alison Gervais and her newest novel The Silence Between Us! We are so excited about this book and to have Alison on the blog today! 🤩😍

About Alison Gervais! 

Alison Gervais began writing at the age of five and gained recognition by posting her work on Wattpad in 2011. She graduated from Colorado State University – Pueblo with a degree in English and is still figuring out what else she’d like to do in life. As for now, she plans to keep writing, rereading Harry Potter, watching Supernatural and Law and Order: SVU, and enjoying life with her husband and their two cats, Jane and Smoke. 

Keep up with Alison: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram 


The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations on your book's release! What's your favorite thing about being a published author?
Alison: Thank you so much – that means a lot! I think my favorite part of being an author is seeing my book sitting on the shelf in a bookstore. I’ve wanted to be an author for almost as long as I can remember, and that feeling never gets old! 

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Alison: The best part of the writing process – for me at least – is when you get this huge surge of inspiration and excitement for your project and you just have to sit down and write. I can get maybe 5,000 words down in one sitting if I’m really into it, so you have to strike while the iron is hot! The hardest part is probably writer’s block, or that inevitable feeling of defeat that hits sooner or later where you’re convinced you can’t possibly write another word of your project. That feeling goes away eventually, but it’s never fun.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for writing The Silence Between Us?
Alison: This is a question that has a few different answers, honestly! Growing up Hard of Hearing, of course I had my own experiences and feelings to draw on when I began creating a character in the Deaf community, but I also had a lot of background knowledge and guidance that came from being a Deaf Services Specialist at an Independent Living Center for two years. My job was to act as an advocate for those D/deaf/Hard of Hearing and provide support in different areas, such as arranging interpreters, procuring assistive technology, and educating the public about the Deaf community. I was also a part of a subset of the Colorado Coalition for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf Blind, called the Advocacy Coalition for Equality; I got to see firsthand just what type of obstacles people in this community face in all aspects of life, and particularly with young students.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
AlisonProbably my favorite character to write would have to be Maya. She’s the total opposite of myself, so it was fun to write her story as her voice developed. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and she’s definitely a lot spunkier than I am, so writing from that different point of view was fun.

The Book Bratz: Were there any characters or scenes from your book that got changed/deleted in the revision process? What can you tell us about them? (It's always fascinating to see how much changes about a book through the publishing process!)
Alison: In one of my first drafts Maya actually had a step-dad named Roger. That particular character never really took off in a way that was necessary for the story to continue, so my editor and I agreed to re-write without him.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from reading The Silence Between Us?
AlisonI hope readers enjoy experiencing the point of view of someone else who’s different than they are. Not everyone experiences the world the same way, and to be able to see that through different lenses can be a great way to learn. I also hope that readers come away with the knowledge that there is a beautiful and diverse culture behind the Deaf community, and it’s out there right now! Go explore!

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on revisiting the world of The Silence Between Us in the future, or do you have other ideas planned? Can you share any of that with us?
Alison: As much as it would be fun to revisit this world, I can’t say for certain that it’ll happen. And I’m always tossing around ideas for new projects or working on something new, but I don’t want to spoil anything, so stay tuned!

About The Silence Between Us!

Title: The Silence Between Us
Author: Alison Gervais
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: August 13th 2019

Summary: Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism. And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together. But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.

Buy The Silence Between Us

Thank you so much to Alison for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about The Silence Between Us and can't wait for everyone to read it!