Review: Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park

Title: Flat-Out Matt
Author: Jessica park
Publisher: March 25th 2013 by CreateSpace
Format: eBook, 158 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Flat-Out Love | Flat-Out Matt
5 owl rating

Summary

Matt is a junior at MIT. He’s geeky, he’s witty, he’s brilliant.

And he’s also very, very stupid.

When beautiful, cool, insightful Julie moves in with Matt’s family, why (oh why!) does he pretend to be his absent brother Finn for her alleged benefit?

It seems harmless enough until her short-term stay becomes permanent. And until it snowballs into heart-squeezing insanity. And until he falls in love with Julie, and Julie falls in love with Finn.

But … Matt is the right one for her. If only he can make Julie see it. Without telling her the truth, without shattering them all. Particularly his fragile sister Celeste, who may need Julie the most.

You saw Matt through Julie’s eyes in FLAT-OUT LOVE. Now go deeper into Matt’s world in this FLAT-OUT MATT novella. Live his side of the story, break when his heart breaks, and fall for the unlikely hero all over again.

Take an emotional skydive for two prequel chapters and seven Flat-Out Love chapters retold from his perspective, and then land with a brand-new steamy finale chapter from Julie.

My thoughts

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Flat-Out Matt is the companion novel to the best book ever, Flat-Out Love. It’s not a linear retelling of the story; it’s a few prequel chapters and a few of the chapters from Flat-Out Love, all told from Matt’s point of view. And though we are already familiar with the duplicate chapters, nothing feels repetitive because Matt sees things from a very different perspective than Julie.

Most of the characters from Flat-Out Love are back, and we even get to meet the elusive Finn. That part was sad, knowing what was coming, but it was nice to see the brother everyone was lost without. We learn more about Matt’s parents and their part in the Flat Finn fiasco, and we learn that Celeste was actually a pretty average kid before the events in Flat-Out Love. But most of all, we see the journey Matt took from being the brother in the shadows to the one who has to keep the family together, and all that cost him.

The writing was perfect, and you’d never know the books were written almost 2 years apart. It was just like stepping right back into that world. The same snarky dialogue was there and I still loved it. Unlike the first book, though, this one has sexy scenes. This was definitely not a book for the younger set. But don’t worry, the sex doesn’t replace the romance. There’s even more of that. *Swoon*.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I love Matt even more now than I did in the first book. I need a Matt in my life. Seriously. It’s been almost 2 months since I last marked a book as swoon-worthy and even longer since I declared a book a must read, but Flat-Out Matt is both. Read Flat-Out Love, then jump right into this one. You’ll thank me, I promise.

The sum up

The perfect companion novel.

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Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsTitle: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books, Sept. 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Source: Purchased
5 owl rating

 

Summary

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My thoughts

I didn’t think it was possible, but Stephanie Perkins managed to make me love Lola and the Boy Next Door even more than Anna and the French Kiss. Another home run for the Queen of Contemporary Young Adult Romances.

Lola was not your average girl. She saw every day as a chance to reinvent herself, with wigs and costumes; she marched to her own drummer and if you didn’t like it, tough noogies. She lived with her too-good-to-be-true dads and dated an older “bad boy.” Everything was going pretty dandy for Lola until her old neighbors moved back into the house next door.

I loved Lola’s dads – they let her just be herself and were there when she needed them. They were kind (to each other and to her) and thoughtful and just quirky enough. Her boyfriend, Max, was a few years older, and this was mentioned several times, in an effort to make their relationship almost… naughty. I didn’t think the age difference was that big a deal.

The neighbors, the Bells, included twins Calliope and Cricket. Calliope was a talented figure skater whose family had moved back to town to advance her career. She was spoiled and selfish, and not a likable character at all. Cricket, well he’s one of my favorite book boyfriends ever. He was sweet and nerdy and made of pure awesome.

Most of the novel was spent building up the horrible thing that Cricket did to Lola before the Bells moved away, and once we found out what he did, it was a huge letdown. Honestly, it was no big deal at all, and I thought she overreacted quite a bit. The dialogue was fun and real; Lola really had a tendency to say what she was thinking, which led to some amusing situations.

The setting of the novel was so well described, I felt like I was right there in San Francisco with the characters. Everything was so lush and descriptive, I loved it. For fans of Anna and the French Kiss, we are treated to a few scenes with Anna and Etienne in Lola. They are just as in love, and Anna provides a sounding board when Lola needs someone to talk out her issues.

There were a few clichés, and some predictable bits, but they were few and far between. The quirky and fun nature of the book more than made up for those few drawbacks.

The sum up

I loved this one so much. I have a new favorite book and a new favorite book boyfriend.

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Review: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Title: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: February 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, 309 pages
Source: NetGalley
3 owls

 

Summary

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…

My thoughts

Blaze was a fun main character; she lived life on the sideline and was just fine living in her comic book world with her 2 besties, whom I really liked. They were total opposites: one was spoiled, selfish and boy crazy and the other was calm, kind and thoughtful. The three of them together made a great mix. Blaze and her little brother were close, and he was just about the cutest and most thoughtful little brother you could want. Though they had their disagreements, you could tell they really cared about each other.

Blaze was a diverse character, with flaws and quirks. She wasn’t perfect, and in fact made some very stupid decisions, one of which seemed out of character. But she was also a teenage girl, so we can chalk those up to hormones, I suppose.

Mark deserved his Mark the Shark title. He seemed like a good guy on the surface, and while he wasn’t a total douchecanoe, he also wasn’t a saint. He had a few redeeming qualities in the end. Blaze’s mom was clearly still hurt by their father leaving town, and I felt that aspect was well developed. She was a real character with real issues, and that was nice to see in a parental figure.

The comics play a large part of the story, and though I’m generally not a fan of comic books, I didn’t find their use in the book off-putting at all. In fact, Blaze made them seem pretty interesting. She and her fellow comic aficionados talked about the history and future of comics, and the artwork and stories behind them.

This was a fun book, and though the real meat of the story didn’t happen until after the halfway point, everything moved very quickly. I loved how the dialogue was spiced up by Blaze’s comic book obsession. Every once in a while, she’d think “Bam!” or “Mark the Shark strikes again!” or some other such nonsense. It made the story fun and more entertaining than it would have been otherwise. There are real lessons to be learned here, but they’re not preachy. This is a great story for our modern age

The sum up

Fast-paced and funky, this is a fun novel with depth and heart. Perfect for a fun vacation read or plane trip.

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Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

skinnyTitle: Skinny
Author: Donna Cooner
Publisher: October 1st 2012 by Scholastic
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Source: BEA

Summary

Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

My thoughts

Poor Ever is hopelessly overweight and unhappy at school and at home. She has no friends, save for her bestie Rat, who has always been there for her. Thanks to the little voice in her head (Skinny), Ever knows exactly what everyone thinks when they look at her. And none of it is good. She longs to sing in her school’s drama productions, but Skinny assures her nobody would be able to hear her because they’d all be looking at how fat and ugly she is on stage. After a particularly embarrassing experience at school (seriously, it was horrible), Ever decides its time to stop flirting with the idea of gastric bypass and just go ahead and get the surgery.

I felt so sorry for Ever. Her mother died when she was young, and as if that wasn’t tough enough, her stepmom and stepsisters were skinny and perfect. Her dad was at work a lot, and she felt all alone. She comforted herself with food, even going so far as to hide it and eat in solitude. She had a realistic and interesting inner monologue, and I liked her attitude and sense of humor. She knew she was not doing the right and healthy thing, but she couldn’t stop herself.

Her friend Rat was so funny, in a not-trying-to-be-funny kind of way. He was analytical, seriously geeky and had a dry and barely noticeable sense of humor, but he clearly cared for Ever and wanted her to be healthy. Her poor dad was unsure how to let Ever know he cared, without making her mad. Because, let’s be honest, who wants to be told that they’re fat and need to lose weight? So, he resorted to just ignoring the problem. The stepmom and stepsisters were kind of stereotypical “evil step” types, but Briella had her moments and eventually she became a little more likable.

The book does not shy away from the details of Ever’s weight, her eating habits, or the surgery and recovery. It’s very matter of fact and includes a ton of details. Anyone who is considering getting the surgery would find Skinny a great read. You can tell Donna Cooner has had experience with it, and I found the entire process interesting.

Now, on to the cover. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad cover. For a book whose message was it’s what’s inside that counts, and that maybe Ever was beautiful even when she weighed 300 pounds, this cover is a huge disappointment.

The sum up

A realistic concept, great characters and dry humor make this a fun and interesting read.

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Review: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Paperback, 271 pages
Published September 17th 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Standalone
Source: purchased
Goodreads summary:

If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss.
She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps.
She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia.
She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place.
She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d get all his inside jokes, and maybe he wouldn’t be so frustrated with her for forgetting things she can’t possibly remember.
She’d know about her mom’s new family.
She’d know about her dad’s fiancee.
She wouldn’t have to spend her junior year relearning all the French she supposedly knew already.
She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her.
She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back.
But Naomi picked heads.

My thoughts: This was an enjoyable and fast read. Poor Naomi has fallen down the steps in front of her school and can’t remember the last 4 years of her life. As far as she knows, her parents are happily married and she is not even in high school yet. When she wakes up, her parents are divorced and have new families, she has some serious chemistry with bad-boy James, she’s taking classes she doesn’t like and is the co-editor of the yearbook.

I really felt sorry for Naomi. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to wake up one day and have nothing be the same. She was scared and wanted her mom to comfort her, but it turned out she and her mom weren’t even on speaking terms anymore. People expected her to be the same person she was, and she just didn’t know how to be that person.

To look at me, no one would even think anything much had happened—all I had were bruises and some stitches—but inside, I felt different. I worried about not recognizing people and not acting the right way. I worried about having to explain things when I barely understood them myself. I worried about everyone staring at me and what they would say.

Her friends were understanding in the beginning, but they got tired of the new Naomi pretty fast. James was pretty much the only new friend she had, and he only knew the new her, not the Naomi she used to be. He had some secrets from his past, sure, but I liked that he didn’t hide them, or make her feel bad about what happened to her.

Will, Naomi’s co-editor, was another great character. He and Naomi may or may not have had something going in the past. (Although I wondered why he didn’t just come right out and say something one way or the other to her.) He missed his old friend and co-editor and tried to be her friend, but also tried to let her find her way on her own, even if her new life didn’t include him or the yearbook. Ace, her boyfriend, was a real jerk. Instead of being understanding, he just kept trying to get into her pants.

I liked the dialogue, though very occasionally, it seemed to venture into middle grade territory. Nothing that stands out explicitly in my mind, but more of an overall feeling. Of course, that may have been because the protagonist felt like a middle grader. There was nothing swoon-worthy here, though there was a sweet moment every now and then.

The cover is perfect. It fits the story and I love the question mark key. The colors are dark and the title fades at the bottom, like poor Naomi’s memory.

The sum up: Gabrielle Zevin really made me care about Naomi and her future. I think that’s a good indication of how I felt about the novel.

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My Book Boyfriend – Matt Watkins from Flat-Out Love

My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme hosted by Missie at  The Unread Reader.  Usually held on Wednesdays, it will be on Tuesdays for the month of September.

My literary crush this week is Matt from Flat-Out Love.

Matt is a super smart geek who, when he’s not at school, spends his time caring for his odd 13-year-old sister Celeste since his parents are too absent to do it.  He packs her lunches, drives her to school and back and even attends her parent-teacher meetings, all while living in the shadow of his handsome older brother who is traveling the world on various adventures and volunteer missions.

 

He was tall, at least six feet, with dirty blond hair that hung over his eyes. His pale skin told Julie that he hadn’t seen much sun this past summer, and a peek at his T-shirt gave a clue why. The shirt, tucked into his ill-fitting jeans read, Nietzsche Is My Homeboy.  Clearly, he was not a run-with-the-in-crowd kind of guy, and she suspected that he’d been holed up in the library all summer.

 

“Julie? Julie?” She was aware of Matt’s voice, but it sounded foggy and unnatural. She could make out his green T-shirt as he turned toward her, slipping his arms around her waist and pulling her in as she started to drop. “I got you,” he said. “I won’t let you fall. Just hold on.” He held her tightly against his chest, and she briefly wondered if he was wearing Axe body spray.

 

The moonlight was enough that she could see he was awake, just not answering her. He was on his back, one hand folded under his head and the other resting on his chest. He turned to look at her. At least he looked as miserable as she felt.

“I’m sorry. Please. You have to forgive me.” Her voice was breaking. She knew that she was on the verge of falling apart, but she couldn’t help it. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” she kept repeating. “Matty, please. You can’t be this mad at me. I can’t take it.” Julie leaned forward, dropping her head onto his chest and slipping her arms under his shoulders, trying to make him hold her. The Matt she’d seen earlier tonight had been a stranger. She hugged him tightly, wanting nothing more than for him to come back to her, to be himself again.

A few minutes passed, and then she felt his hand on the back of her head, gently stroking her hair. She closed her eyes.

“Shhh…” he said. “I’m the one that’s sorry. I didn’t mean any of the things I said to you. You didn’t deserve that.”

Julie turned her head, resting her cheek against him and listening to his breathing.  His voice was soothing, his touch relaxing, and Julie’s pain began to lighten a hint. She didn’t know what to say, so she said nothing, staying where she was as his hand continued to move through her hair and then to her back. He lulled her into a place where nothing hurt anymore, and this whole dreadful evening started to feel like a nightmare that she was coming out of. His stroke traveled over the straps of her tank top, brushing against her skin, making her shiver and curl into him more.

 

And then without realizing it, without thinking, she inched up just a little until her mouth was close to his. She had no idea what she was doing, as though she were following some instinct that she couldn’t control. Maybe she was still asleep. Maybe this wasn’t happening. She moved a tiny bit closer, barely touching her lips to his. His mouth was warm and tempting, luring her in. Neither of them moved.

Then his hand was firmly on her side, guiding her body up higher and bringing her mouth closer to his. Matt pressed his lips against hers and he kissed her.

His mouth was soft and unhurried. Teasing, even. His tongue just brushing hers and making her tremble. She kissed back, tasting him, breathing him in. Julie was dizzy, and shaky, and inundated with his heat. He made her temporarily lost, not able to see beyond the way this kiss felt. In the moonlit light, it was smooth, easy, instinctive.

She moved her leg over his, bringing them closer together.

She couldn’t possibly be awake.

Her chest was pressed against his, his hand on her lower back, his fingers digging into her skin. She didn’t want this to stop.

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park {Review}


Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park {Review}Title: Flat-Out Love
Author: Jessica Park
Publisher: Self Published on April 11, 2011
Format: eBook, 400 pages
Source: Purchased
5 Stars
The sum up

Flat-Out Love has become my favorite book. Ever. It has everything I’m looking for in a book: unique plot, interesting and relatable characters, fun dialogue and lots of romance. This needs to be on your must-read list pronto.

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