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BOOK REVIEW: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

BOOK REVIEW: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody KeplingerA Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorced dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great. Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together. Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.

“Ready?” Nathan asked, pulling car keys from his pocket.
“You kids have fun,” Dad said from the sofa, turning a page in the novel he was reading. “Get to know each other. You’re family now.”
Yeah, I thought. Family who’ve banged each other.

Many people found themselves comparing this story to DUFF and some of Keplinger’s other works. Now, while I did say, “This was so good! But I loved DUFF more,” I never once felt the need to compare while I was reading. I believe each book has it’s own characters, problems, and merits. Even if there are moments where we get glimpses of the DUFF world we all love (or hate, if you’re one of those.), it doesn’t, by any means, have to be anything the same or surrounded by old characters all the time-That’s just an added bonus when we get to see Wesley and my lovely bitch., Bianca. I loved seeing them, if only for brief moments!

“Buckle up,” he [Nathan] said to me, hitting the button for the radio.
He waited until my seat belt had clicked before he even pulled out of the driveway. As if traveling those three extra feet without restraints might actually kill me or something. I didn’t expect someone who had one-night stands with strangers or threw crazy parties to have such a stick up his ass.

This story was exactly what I needed-Light, sarcastic, funny, and heartwarming. Hell, I even found myself tearing up a few times, to which I replied while blinking rapidly, “What the hell?” It’s not enough to merely create an interesting plot. You have to add warmth and love and laughter to these characters and make us unable to dislike them. With this author, I find that I am always in love with her characters. Whether they’re offhandedly witty and snarky like Bianca, controlled, composed and in charge like Lissa, or just a plain old bitch like Whit (Daaaawww, Whit) I always find that they have me laughing or giggling out loud-which I RARELY do.

“Hey,” he said, folding his arms over his chest, only barely obscuring the image of a hand making the Vulcan salute on his T-shirt. “I thought you were giving this whole being-nice thing a try.”
“I am,” I told him. “But come on. You want to major in computer science, you’re practically swooning over some ancient movie about a time-traveling car, and you have a freaking Darth Vader bobblehead in your room. I thought jocks beat up geeks, not aspired to be them.”
“What can I say? I’m a complicated guy.”

And then her boys. Talk. About. Butterflies. That’s another thing-I don’t know if it’s the author’s younger age or if she just has an unwitty knack to create all the boys in the world I’d love to gather and keep for myself, but I don’t think she has created a boy that hasn’t broken my heart or made my tummy erupt into butterflies, yet. They are always kind, caring, and over-the-moon sweet, no matter their status *Cough* Wesley, the manwhore *Cough Cough* and they always stay in my heart long after I have turned (swiped) the last page. It’s not that they are different than what we see all the time, per se, but it’s the heart that goes into writing their characters-It leaps off the page and gives you multiple opportunities to grab onto it and feel that visceral connection that is so within your reach. If that’s not incentive enough, I don’t know what is.

My head began to spin. My whole body felt alive, like it was on fire. I gasped for breath between each kiss, my fingers digging into his soft cotton T-shirt. Something like euphoria swept over me, and I couldn’t think about anything anymore. It was just Nathan and me and way too many layers of clothing between us. I wanted to touch every inch of him. I wanted to melt into him. I wanted him. So much.

I mentioned the author’s age, earlier, and I wanted to say a little more on that. I still can’t believe a girl so young creates such simply amazing books. They have no typos. They are witty. They are snarky. They have VERY swoon-worthy lines from those aforementioned boys (Cash, Wesley, and now, Nathan). And I just have the hardest time wrapping my brain around that-not that young people can’t write, no, that’s not what I mean-it’s that she’s so young, yet has more accuracy and clarity in her writing (whether or not you admire the funny cliches and content) than some of the more seasoned authors that sell 10x more books than this girl does. I don’t get that. These books are light, care-free, and they have lots of heart and passion in every page. And the drama actually makes you feel because it’s not long and drawn out. These books are short, sweet, and to the point. I’m sorry, but what more can you ask for?


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So, you know, I really loved this one. And while I only gave it a 4.5, it doesn’t change the fact that my heart is light as air and I have the hugest smile on my face. I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t feel the same ‘hard-core connection’ as I did with the last two I read (maybe my mood?), but there was a strong connection, nonetheless. But that’s where the .5 star went. Merely a case of not just slapping on the same rating for the hell of it…eh, I dunno. I’m weird.

Since I could remember, I’d always been a night person. My burst of energy came right around the time the sun set. I lived in the darkness. Loved the darkness. My world came alive when the stars came out.
But for the first time in my life, I wanted the night to end.

Nathan and Whitley will likely bury themselves deep under your skin and stick with you long after the last page. There’s a twist with Nathan (You’re asking, wait, aside from him being her future step-brother?) that made me smile and squee so loud, it was unreal. I don’t know why I loved it that much, but I did. It was adorable, swoon-worthy, and without a doubt something I wholeheartedly did not expect. Whether you’ll feel the same or not is merely opinion and speculation-I just severely enjoyed it. Whitley and Nathan were beyond adorable-I hope you’ll give them a chance on a rainy, depressing day.

BOOK REVIEW: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

BOOK REVIEW: Shut Out by Kody KeplingerShut Out by Kody Keplinger
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

“Because.” Cash’s fingers stilled, resting lightly against the back of my head, which didn’t hurt anymore. He looked down at me for a long second before continuing. “Because I want to see you with someone better than him. Someone who will see how lucky they are to have you.”
I bit my lip, nervous but determined to ask my next question. “Do you happen to have someone particular in mind, Cash?”
“Maybe.”

4 days, three (attempted) books, and countless exaggerated sighs later, and I can’t get this author’s characters out of my head. You heard me right-I have read two other books since finishing DUFF and nothing compares. I even tried to break back into my normal genre….but nothing seemed to stand up to the quirky inner dialogue of the heroines that this author creates. And, I’ll be the first to admit it, her male leads are unforgettable. First, Wesley. And now, Cash Sterling??? Seriously?? I mean, no, they aren’t amazing or crazy memorable, but they are sweet, endearing, kind-they fall hard for the female leads and they have the confidence and cockiness that gives them that sexy little edge that I have been missing, lately. My point to all this?? I read two other books, fully, before this, and I literally skipped their reviews (don’t worry, I’ll go back to them this week) to write this one. Because when a book makes me feel good…that’s all that matters-and this book made me smile ear to ear.

“Lissa,” Cash said slowly, drawing out the A at the end of my name. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but…Did you just mark a typo in your book?”
I bit my lip. “No. Of course not. Why would you say that?”
“Because you just marked something on the page with a red ink pen-like the ones teachers use to check papers.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Lissa.”

5 stars. Sigh. It feels so wrong, but oh so right. I went to put a four, because, come on, how juvenile is this plot?? More than once I tried to imagine any one of my friends picking this up and not rolling their eyes…unsuccessfully, I might add. But then I thought to myself, WTF do I care what people think??? When I have a specific book type in my head, it’s literally the only kind of book that will get a good rating from me. Lately? My choice of poison has been high school drama, sexy boys who have the sweetest touch of possessiveness while not 100% being in a relationship with the main girl, and fun friendships that keep the main character afloat. I dunno. It’s perfect for my mood right now.

“It’s not silly,” he said. “What’s silly is my deep-seated and unreasonable fear of fish.”
I frowned. “Fish? Like food?”
“No, that doesn’t bother me so much. Fish that are alive. I can’t swim in lakes or rivers or anything besides a swimming pool because I’m always convinced the fish are swimming all over me…all slimy and…ugh.”
I laughed, and Cash smiled.
“We all have our quirks,” he said. “This is yours. You wouldn’t be you without it.”

I think the reason I’m so skeptical as to whether other people I know would love this story (I know most of my friends are like me and could overlook any idiosyncrasies and dumb shit in DUFF, because, well, Wesley) or not is the amount of cliches that overflow in these books. I mean, I’m the QUEEN of not liking cliches (Hmm well, no, maybe not, but I roll my eyes sometimes, I swear!!) but for some reason, this author makes the stupidest things, like, say, this war they have going on in the book, seem almost charming. And my biggest warning to anyone who trusts my thoughts or reviews??? This book is dangerously cheesy. It has alll the cheese!!! But only the best kind of cheese.


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So, here’s the plot, in a nutshell. Lissa has a douchey boyfriend, Randy. Randy is on the football team. The football team and the soccer team have this epic (not so epic, it’s more moronic-me and the girls agree on this front) rivalry that’s been going on for years and years….and, while the biggest problem the girls see is that the boys put this childish rivalry ahead of ‘together time’, it’s becoming more than that. People are kind of getting hurt-it’s no longer just an emotional thing. And so, after being put second for the final time, Lissa decides enough is enough. She gathers all the girlfriends of the football and soccer players and induces a strike. What kind of strike, you ask?? Well, it’s simple: No more sex until the rivalry is over. *insert eyeroll* Right?? It sounds soooo juvenile. And, in a way, it is. But then again, I didn’t find it to be so-this author has a way of making it all seem…authentic. Authentic as any teenage melodrama could be. And, hold the eye rolling, I actually really enjoyed this plot. It put the skeezers in the lime light and showed what boys were truly in love with their girls….and what boys just wanted an opportunity to be with certain, aforementioned girls, like, say…Lissa??

I could just make out the boys’ retreating backs as they skirted across Ellen’s backyard and out toward the gravel back roads of Hamilton. The moonlight framed their silhouettes, and for a moment, one paused. I could see him turning his head back, but he was too far off for me to recognize his face as he looked at the house. At the window. At me.
Somehow, I knew it was Cash.

Cash. Cash Sterling. What a sweetheart. He got under my skin, deep. I won’t say he weaseled his way deeper than Wesley in my heart, but he got a nice little spot in the corner, saved all just for him. He was the guy always in the background, always secretly supporting Lissa and helping her when she fell. He was the guy that when her heart got broken time and again, he silently helped her pick up the pieces. I absolutely adored the way he treated her, the way he looked at her. I loved the way he was, just in general. I only wish we’d have gotten more time with him…though, the way it all happened seemed to be perfect, just as it was.

My body was riddled with electric shocks as his kisses grew more intense. My fingers grasped at his short brown hair, pulling him to me. I’d never felt like this, like I wanted to climb into another person’s skin. Like I wanted every inch of him to touch every inch of me, to twine myself around him and never let go. I’d never kissed anyone this way.

So, yeah. I really enjoyed this. It had tons of stuff that was moronic, naturally, with that kind of plot…but I loved it, all the same. The biggest problem I see people having is the assumptions. Assuming it was all a game. Assuming ‘he’ thought he was too good for her. Assuming that kiss wasn’t real. Not talking to each other about what they really felt for one another or what happened in the past…it’s a killer. But, eh. I enjoyed this WAY too much to nitpick. It is what it is-I paid for cheap thrills and wanted petty high school drama. I got it. *singing voice* Drammmaaaaaaaa.

BOOK REVIEW: The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger

BOOK REVIEW: The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody KeplingerDuff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Soon to be a major motion picture! Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I was in the middle of asking myself the age-old question-where will I use this in real life?-when I felt a hand on my shoulder. That skin-crawly thing happened, and I knew exactly who was behind me.
Great. Just fucking great.


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Aaaahhhh this book. This book made me so unbelievably happy, it’s unreal. I was completely and utterly obsessed from the minute I picked it up until the moment I put it down. I grumbled when I had to go to sleep and I tossed and turned for what felt like an eternity, struggling internally to keep my head on the pillow and not roll over to pick my Ipad up again. It’s not that it was deep or heartfelt or altogether meaningful, I suppose, but the author created this wonderfully cliched world that I felt myself instantly addicted and drawn to, and these characters embedded themselves deep into my heart where I didn’t ever want to let them go. It didn’t need to be anything other than what it was-fun.

“Hey, you never told me why you were upset the other night,” he said. “You were too busy shoving your tongue down my throat. So what was the problem?”
“None of your-,” I began, but I stopped suddenly. “Hey! I didn’t…there was no tongue!” A shiver of rage ran through me as I noticed his mischievous smile. “You son of a bitch! Get the fuck out of here. God, why are you stalking me? I thought Wesley Rush didn’t chase girls. I thought they chased him, right?”

I’m not going to lie-I was ready for a DNF. I know, I know, total case of judging the book by it’s horrendous cover, but come on, Guys-look at it! Sad. Anyway. I saw the mixed reviews, I heard the movie was better, I found it was full of cliches, and…er….yeah, this is awkward-I heard the author was seventeen when she wrote this. All negative, if you ask me. I know, I’m a total bitch, right? But there were so many alarming red flags that had me so nervous when I picked this one up. And, I’ll admit it, I totally had my nose turned up like a snooty Who from Whoville when I began reading. I was all ‘Hmm. That happened quickly’ and ‘Oh, well she’s a bitch’ or ‘Hmm. I don’t like that they hang out here.’ But oh mah gah was I proven wrong. Each page that passed I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper until I eventually was so wrapped around this book’s pretty little finger that I couldn’t see straight. And you know what?? It’s never felt so good to be wrong.

I was fully conscious of Wesley’s hand as it slid up my torso and moved to cup my breast. With an effort, I pushed him away from me. His eyes were wide as he leaned back. “Please don’t slap me again,” he said.
“Shut up.”

Oh, Bianca, you bitchy little not-so-Duff. The inner workings of her mind were so funny, albeit very opinionated. She definitely had a venomous bite, but I never felt put off by her harsh judgements or crude rationalizations. Her reasons to start hanging with Wesley were wrong from the start, but she never once forgot that fact. Hiding it from her friends, attempting to escape reality, and scrutenizing others that were basically doing the same thing as her, she was in no position to judge…yet she did, repeatedly. And that’s where I think a lot of people might have had a problem with her-but I didn’t. I dunno. I thought that was kind of realistic. I pull a ‘pot calling the kettle black’ frequently when it concerns myself and other people, no matter how nice I am or how much I like people-it’s human nature to be a wee bit judgemental, and I can’t say I’m not…’cuz I am. No, I think my only problem with this whole story was how she continually put herself down. She repeatedly called herself the Duff and questioned why anyone liked her, why Wesley would possibly waste his time with her. It was a very noticeable thing throughout the story, but thankfully I loved her and Wesley so much it just didn’t matter-but I can see how this could possibly annoy others.

I jerked out from under Wesley’s hand and spun to face him, gripping my pencil like a dart and aiming it right at his Adam’s apple.
He didn’t even flinch. His gray eyes examined the pencil with feigned curiosity and he said, “Interesting. Is this how you greet all the boys you like?”
“I don’t like you.”
“Does that mean you love me, then?”

And WESLEY!!! EEPS!! I Can. Not. Believe. How much I loved him. He was cocky. He was arrogant. He was quirky. He was sexy. He gave me butterflies that I continually choked on…Okay. Fuck. I TOTALLY get why I loved him. But that’s besides the point!! From the moment we meet him *cough* page two *cough* I was raising my eyebrow sardonically (Okay, in my head I was. I’d had a couple glasses of wine….but that’s neither here nor there). I mean, we meet him THAT early?? Gag. I hate when that happens. But OMG, my fears were squelched when he not so subtlety inserted himself in her life every single day. They formed this adorable bond that made them secret friends, then secret *bleep* buddies, and then….something more?? I found myself laughing out loud so much when he was around that my smile became permanent. My heart broke the more we found out about him. My heart soared when he defended her. And my smile was depraved when he got jealous. But, mostly, there were butterflies. Endless butterflies.


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This book, to me, was unputdownable. I read it at work. I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. I lost many hours of sleep over it. And I stayed up until almost one on a work night without even realizing it until I looked up and saw what programming was on tv-randomly, I might add. So, to say I didn’t love this would be false. I adored it. I cherished it. I’m guna go buy the movie version book for my bookshelf (I’m sorry, I can’t do that fugly cover. Just…No.). I, my friends, am still obsessed. I cannot wait until I can read it again.

Cute, funny, heart-warming, and addicting beyond all measure. This young author wrote my dream book for this moment in my life-I will never be so judgemental again (Lies. All lies. But, that would circle the point I’m trying to make-oops) before I really know what I’m talking about. I won’t judge a book by it’s cover. And I will try not to be biased.


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Oops. Just like Bianca. Guess I’ll never learn my lesson *shrugs* but I’m so glad I broke my completely rigid mold of rules for this one.


No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.

 

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