New to Me: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

In 2018 I had the idea to have readers and friends read my favorite books from years past. I had 20+ amazing people sign up and read some of my all-time favorite books. They took the time out of their busy lives and reading schedules and read books I love and shared what they thought on my blog. It was a lot of fun and I got to see some new takes on old favorites. It actually was a fun experience. If you are interested in the reviews HERE.

This year I decided to give back in a way and asked everyone that signed up to tell me their favorite book (that I have not read) because in 2019 it is time to do NEW TO ME.

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New to Me: Princess of Thorns by Stacey JayPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: December 9, 2014
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three-stars

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

Stacey Jay’s book, Princess of Thorns came out December 9, 2014. How long have I owned it? It has been on my shelf since December 30, 2014. Yup, I was so excited for this book I had it mere weeks after it’s release. So to say I was happy to see it as a New to Me suggestion and then a New to Me read I was thrilled. It was about time I read this backlist book I ran out and bought. Sadly though I didn’t end up loving it like I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but I really struggled with a lot of it which outweighed the good for me.

The story is about Aurora, a princess without a throne. She is on a quest to save her brother and the throne that rightfully belongs to her family. But in order to stay hidden and safe, she has to hide in plain sight as a boy. While on her journey she meets Prince Niklaas, a prince with a secret of his own. With an unlikely ally at their side, these two make a dangerous trek in order to save the kingdom, themselves, and maybe find love.

In theory, I should have loved this. A hidden identity book? A book with danger and intrigue and magic? There for it. Sadly the first 50% of the book was really hard to get into. It dragged a lot and the pacing was a little slow. And as much as I loved Aurora and Niklaas’ connection, it took a really long time for me to feel it. Truthfully I think that is really where my struggle was. I was missing something in those first 200 pages and I don’t know what it was. And then after all that build up, I didn’t feel there were enough pages to deal with everything that was left so the end felt a little rushed.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book. But I just didn’t love it. By the end, I was reading like crazy to find out what happened, but I just don’t think there was enough for me to be satisfied. There are plenty of people that loved it though and you may be one of those people so don’t rule it out because I was just so so on it.

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And there you have it, June’s book selection for New to Me. I wasn’t sure I would finish in time but I made it work!

Looking for more books with a character in disguise? Check out this list on Goodreads.

 

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Blog Tour: Review – What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Blog Tour: Review – What to Say Next by Julie BuxbaumWhat to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: July 11th 2017
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five-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

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

Admittedly it took me a long time to read What to Say Next, a book that is under 300 pages. I started it at the wrong time (right before a book I was dying for was released) and after I put it down and got sucked into other books it sat waiting. Because of this when I picked it up I struggled to get into the book. I was really sad about this because I had heard such great things. But the more I read the more I just fell in love with Julie Buxbaum’s story of Kit and David. And by the time I was done I was so sad there were no more words for me to read. To keep it simple…the book was fantastic.

What to Say Next is told from the perspectives of both David and Kit in alternating chapters. What I love about this format is that you get to see what is inside each of their heads. Sometimes this can take away from a book, but in this case I think it actually added to it. Knowing what Kit was thinking and feeling was really important. She is popular and has friends but after the feather of her father things changed and now she wants quiet and understanding. David, who is on the spectrum, is a loner. He sits alone and uses a notebook to help him determine who is well meaning and who to stay away from.  When Kit sits down with David though everything changes for both of them and soon feelings have forming and friendships are made and everything is changing.

It is hard to say at what point this story turned around for me.  According to my Goodreads updates it was around page 80. But honestly I think it was before that. There was something so endearing and magical about Kit and David’s friendship forming and blossoming. On paper Kit and David couldn’t have been more different, but from the start of the book something about their differences really just clicked. You could almost feel how they made each other whole and I loved that. I loved that this seemingly random twist of fate, the death of Kit’s dad, lead them to find their person. And I 100% believe they are each other’s person. The honesty they show one another is like nothing I have seen in a book. And to see their trust and relationship grow I was done for. Also David is 100% crush worthy.

What to Say Next is a great follow up to Buxbaum’s YA debut, Tell Me Three Things. It has heart and amazing story telling and characters you will love from the depths of your soul. I was honestly blown away by how much I ended up loving Kit and David’s story and I think you will too. I highly recommend this one for your TBR.

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About Julie Buxbaum

The author of the New York Times bestseller Tell Me Three Things, her debut young adult novel, as well as the critically acclaimed The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two young children.

 

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On My Radar – July Releases (12)

It’s finally 90 in Boston…well for today and tomorrow anyway. And with 90s in June there is only one thing on my mind…July. July is one of my favorite months of the year. It is usually the tome when the weather is great and the books released are pretty fantastic and mostly quiet. There usually aren’t a ton of hype books released in July and that’s part of the reason I love books that come out then. You can find some great gems.

Currently there are 16 books on my TBR that are released in July, but I’m focusing on 6. Two of them I have read and gave 5 stars and the other 4 are ones I’m super excited for:

On My Radar – July Releases (12)Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: July 4th 2017
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Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

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On My Radar – July Releases (12)What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: July 11th 2017
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

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On My Radar – July Releases (12)Trust by Kylie Scott
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: May 23rd 2017
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Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

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On My Radar – July Releases (12)This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen
Published: July 11th 2017
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Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.

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On My Radar – July Releases (12)Who's That Girl by Blair Thornburgh
Published by HarperTeen
Published: July 11th 2017
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This laugh-out-loud debut is filled with hilarious awkward encounters, a supportive LGBTQ organization, and too many cheesy lyrics to count—all with the compulsive readability of Audrey, Wait! and Boy Meets Boy.

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her. But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix—who has recently hit the mainstream big-time—returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single—“Natalie”—which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

To help keep her mind off of Sebastian and his maybe-about-her, maybe-not-about-her song, Nattie throws herself into planning the school’s LGBTQIA dance. That proves problematic, too, when Nattie begins to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

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On My Radar – July Releases (12)The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride
Published by Sky Pony Press
Published: July 4th 2017
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You have four days to locate five treasured trophies. Break the rules and you all die. Happy hunting!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

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If you are looking for other books on my radar you can check out my July shelf on Goodreads HERE.

What’s on your radar in July? Are you excited for any of these?

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On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)

As book bloggers and readers we have a ton of books. At any given time I have about 100 books I want to read at once which we all know isn’t possible. But with those 100 books I usually have a few in mind that I want to read (unless I’m in a mood reading phase). Currently I have 6 books that I have my eye on to read next, and one that I am desperate to show up on Edelweiss so I can download it and the read the crap out of it.

On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: April 5th 2016
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Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
Published by HarperTeen
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Set on a Scottish farm in the spring of 1945, Wait for Me begins as Paul, a severely burned German prisoner-of-war, is sent to the farm to work. Lorna, the farmer’s teenage daughter, soon discovers that in wartime, your family and your allies might not actually be your friends, and your enemy might turn out to be the love of your life. Lorna’s friendship with Paul, and their developing love for each other, is challenged by Lorna’s own prejudices and by the intolerance of her soldier brother and her friends in the village. Ultimately, the events which bring peace to Europe will tear Lorna and Paul apart. What will Lorna have to give up in order to find Paul again?

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On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)Caraval (Untitled, #1) by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books
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Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Harlequin Teen
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For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

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On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)For This Life Only by Stacey Kade
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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A young man struggles to move forward after the death of his twin brother in this gripping, coming-of-age tale about loss, redemption, love, and the moment you begin to see the world differently.

Three minutes.

Jacob Palmer died for three life-changing minutes.

And when he woke up, nothing was the same. Elijah, his twin brother, is dead, and his family is broken. Jace’s planned future is crushed, along with his pitching arm. Everyone keeps telling him that Eli’s in a better place, but Jace isn’t so sure. Because in those three minutes, there was nothing.

Overwhelmed by guilt and doubt, Jace struggles to adjust to this new version of the world, one without his brother, one without the certainties he once relied on. And then Thera comes into his life.
She’s the last girl he should be turning to for help.

But she’s also the first person to truly see him.

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On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)Wrecked by Maria Padian
Published by Algonquin Young Readers
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Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible--especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.

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This is the book I am desperate to show up on Edelweiss. I’m about half way through the first and I need more!

On my Radar: Top TBR Books (and a dream book)Corruption (Disruption, #2) by Jessica Shirvington
Published by HarperCollins
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The thrilling finale to bestselling author Jessica Shirvington's Disruption series.

How do you live with yourself when you've deceived the one you love?
How do you move on when the person you've been fighting to save betrays you?
Two years ago, Maggie Stevens began the hunt.
Four weeks ago, Maggie's world fell apart, when she finally found what she'd been looking for. And when Quentin, who had blindly trusted her, unravelled her web of lies.
Now, Maggie lives in the dark. But she's not about to stay there. Not when she still has to bring M-Corp down. Not when there is still a chance she could win him back.
In the exhilarating conclusion to Disruption, Maggie must do whatever it takes to show the world the truth. And the price for her quest?
Everything.
But for who?

What are the books on your radar?

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Second Chance Sunday – The ABC’s of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Today’s Second Chance Sunday, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, was just a fun cute read and is perfect for summer. This was originally posted here.

Second Chance Sunday – The ABC’s of Kissing Boys by Tina FerraroThe ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: 2009-01
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three-stars

Parker Stanhope has played soccer practically since she could walk. And now that she’s a high school junior, everything she’s worked for is finally coming together. She’s paid her dues on the field, and as an upperclassman, she’s a shoo-in for the varsity team. But that’s not what happens.

This year, Coach Hartley moved up every JV player but two—and one of those two was Parker. Now, she’s stuck with the freshmen, her friends are cutting her loose, and her love of the game is seriously beginning to fail. But Parker is determined to get her life back. She has to get on the varsity team, and she has the perfect plan. All she needs now is the right kind of coach.

thoughts
First off, I must admit that I have a weakness for adorable kisses in books. There is something that just makes me melt when reading about them. So it is no surprise that I was a pile of goo for most of this one. Because let me just tell you that The ABC’s of Kissing Boys is chock full of adorable kissing cuteness. Some books make you crave cupcakes or Slurpee’s or Cheetos but this book makes you crave something better! Making-out, hahah. From start to finish the joy of kissing is a prominent theme and I can’t say I minded one bit.

The ABC’s of Kissing Boys is about Parker and her desire to get back on her school’s JV soccer team. As a junior, Parker should have been a member of the Varsity team; she dreamed of it, hoped for it, willed it. But when she finds herself stuck on JV at the beginning of the year with all the lowly freshman and with all of her Varsity friends shunning her she makes a plan to get her spot back on the team and with her friends. All she needs is some help in kissing to make her plans work.

Enter next door neighbor Tristan, a cute freshman that seems to know about all things kissing. With a new deal set the two start on a journey that teaches Parker that it is more important to be liked then it is to be popular.

As far as characterization was concerned there were times I really liked Parker and other times I found her immature and childish. I mean I could see where she was coming from…her world was turned upside down by not making Varsity, but how she treated Tristan at times just wasn’t cool. She looked down on him because of his grade level and treated him like dirt when he was just trying to help her and give her what she wanted. She was jealous and selfish when it came to him but she refused to admit that she may actually like him. Then on the other hand when it was just the two of them alone together they were beyond adorable and in a lot of ways he acted like he was the one that was 364 days older while Parker was the freshman. Tristan’s maturity was a direct result of something Parker didn’t have, the ability to not care what people thought.

And that right there was Parker’s whole problem. She cared that people thought she was dating a baby. She cared that people looked down on her since she didn’t make Varsity. She cared that her obnoxious (don’t even get me started on my dislike of the mean girls) ‘friends’ would only talk to her if she was the exact same person as they were. When in reality Parker had it made. She was running the JV team, people looked up to her, she had an adorable boy on her side no matter what, and ultimately a former friend that was willing to take her back. She had all that matters and just needed to figure out for herself that she had it so good.

She learned that being popular isn’t the same as being likable.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book. It was my first foray into a Tina Ferraro story and I don’t think it will be my last. It was a fun, quick read with a great message at the end. Pick it up and see if you’ll be swayed like I was.

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