ARC Review: Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

23848094Title: Red Girl, Blue Boy

Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Publication date: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pages: 304

Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked

Synopsis:

Enjoy Red Girl, Blue Boy and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury’s contemporary If Only romance line centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can’t have!

Sixteen-year-old Katie and Drew really shouldn’t get along. After all, her father is the Republican nominee for President of the United States while his mother is at the top of the Democratic ticket. But when Katie and Drew are thrown together in a joint interview on a morning talk show, they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. With an entire nation tuned into and taking sides in your parents’ fight, and the knowledge that—ultimately—someone has to lose, how can you fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate?

This title in the If Only line is a frank and funny romance that shows how sparks fly when opposites attract.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Red Girl, Blue Boy is a book that I have mixed emotions for. There were times that I found it sweet and enjoyable, but most of the time, it was annoying. It was a roll-your-eyes kind of annoying. Oh, I did roll my eyes a lot while reading it because of how fast the romance happened and how Katie, the female protagonist, acted so childish. She’s a rich girl, has politics running through her veins, and hasn’t experienced normal teenage life. I completely understand that that’s the nature of her character. However, the portrayal of that character was over the top. There were parts wherein Katie was so naïve that she seemed like an airhead. She’s also too focused on her dad’s campaign and too enthusiastic, too bubbly. I just couldn’t stand it! Honestly, I feel terrible that I’m saying these words, but that’s how Katie’s character appeared to me. On the other hand, Drew, the male protagonist, was funny and amusing. His character was the reason I continued to read the book.

The writing is good! It’s clear and not dragging, that’s why Red Girl, Blue Boy was a breeze to read. Overall, the book is all right. Although it’s not fluffy as I imagined it would be, Red Girl, Blue Boy is still a story that would cater to those who like politics and a witty YA contemporary.

 

Rating:

2/5 stars

 

 

Book Review: Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard

Fool Me TwiceTitle: Fool Me Twice (If Only, #1)

Author: Mandy Hubbard

Publication date: May 6, 2014

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pages: 272

Source: Gifted by my aunt and uncle

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Books-A-Million

Synopsis:

Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they’re back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.

Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It’s the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.

The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can’t have, and Mandy Hubbard’s hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

In quest of a cute and fun contemporary YA? Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard could be the book for you!

An easy and feel-good read, Fool Me Twice entertained me no more than a few chapters in. Who wouldn’t be enticed with a story about a girl who takes advantage of her ex-boyfriend’s accident to get back at him for dumping her? The pranks that main character Mackenzie and her best friend, Bailey, pulled on Landon (the-ex) are so clever! Fool Me Twice is definitely the kind of funny story that makes you giggle like you’re being tickled on the soles of your feet. There are also sweet and swoony moments that would make readers root for a happy ending! 🙂

The characters are good! Although I didn’t connect with them as much, I still liked how authentic and quirky they are. Their sparky personalities blended perfectly with the lighthearted tone of the story. Author Mandy Hubbard’s direct to the point and witty writing gave the story a legit romantic comedy atmosphere. Her clear and vibrant descriptions masterly illustrated the setting of the story as well as conveyed the emotions felt by the characters.

The first in Bloomsbury’s If Only YA romance series, Fool Me Twice appeals to those who love books with hilarious storylines and heartwarming undertones.

 Rating:

3.5/5 stars

Check out my reviews of the next two books in the If Only series: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae and Not In The Script by Amy Finnegan!

Blog Tour: Not In The Script by Amy Finnegan [Review + Guest Post + Giveaway!]

COVER_Not_in_the_Script_for_Press_KitTitle: Not In The Script (If Only, #3)

Author: Amy Finnegan

Publication date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Pages: 392

Source: ARC gifted by the author (Thank you, Amy!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Books-A-Million / Indiebound

Description: The best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script.

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

*Photo and book description provided by the author

*Other book info from Goodreads  

My review:

My reading schedule this year is loaded with contemporary titles and I’m very happy to say that Not In The Script is one of the few that stood out. It is such a pleasure to read. It made me want to flail, giggle, and do cartwheels all at the same time! Besides, I’m a huge fan of teen dramas on TV so this is a contemporary YA I’d absolutely be interested in.

Written in alternate POVs, Not In The Script tells the story of Emma and Jake, two celebrities who fall in love on the set of their show, Coyote Hills. But here’s thing: Emma doesn’t want to get into another relationship with a co-star. How’s that for conflict? Intriguing, huh? And so begins Emma and Jake’s complicated pursuit of love and happiness that feels so right but at the same time, feels so wrong. You’d sense the I’m-so-into-you-but-I-can’t-be-with-you push and pull of Emma and Jake’s hearts as they struggle to navigate the difficult situation they’re in. It’s entertaining yet a bit frustrating on some parts. *gasp* Why? If you’re someone like me who ships a one true pairing so hard and the characters just won’t get it on, you’d totally understand! 🙂 Nevertheless, I adored the romance in this book. It’s something you’ll never get tired of swooning over!

Emma and Jake are characters that readers would love from the get go. Both possess a high level of likability and distinctive personalities that you’d want to discover more. Emma is a down to earth, insightful, and realistic girl. Even if she’s popular, she treasures normal life and doesn’t let fame get into her head. But what I love most about Emma is that she’s far from perfect. It’s her imperfection and vulnerability that render her a strong protagonist. On the other hand, Jake is a gorgeous, levelheaded, and thoughtful guy who dreams big and knows how to prioritize important things like education. He’s AMAZING! I love how Jake sees through Emma and appreciates her for who she really is—the ordinary person, not the celebrity. He deeply cares for her, proving that he’s a guy worth falling for and someone that parents would approve of. Two thumbs up for that! Like Emma, Jake values the simple life so they’re one perfect match. Both are the kind of fictional couple that readers would certainly root for. Their sweet moments together are undeniably priceless episodes you’d read over and over again! Furthermore, Emma and Jake each have personal issues in this story. In spite of their inner being’s fragile state, both dealt with their problems like grown-ups.

Not In The Script is a complete Hollywood experience as it is packed with a well-structured plot, stellar cast, intense on-set drama, and irresistible romance. An eye opener to the entertainment industry’s complexities, the book illustrated what happens both on and off camera in a very plausible manner. Readers are sure to have a thorough grasp of what celebrity life is all about. With her smart, genuine, and clever writing, author Amy Finnegan gave the story a fun vibe, making Not In The Script a book that people would savor until the end. Indeed, this is a debut novel that deserves a spot in the YA limelight!

Rating:

5/5 stars

GUEST POST: 

For today’s Not In The Script tour stop, the lovely Amy Finnegan shares with us an exclusive behind the scenes story of her novel! Enjoy! 🙂

The Behind the Scenes Story of NOT IN THE SCRIPT

Fox lot

The Fox Studios lot

I have a brother who has an incredibly amazing job: He works for Fox on their studio lot in Hollywood. Over the years, his behind-the-scenes stories about filmmaking have lit up my writer’s brain like bulbs on a Christmas tree, and one thing in particular he said that inspired an important aspect of NOT IN THE SCRIPT. He told me about a film he was working on in which the villain of the story was played by one of the nicest guys he’d ever met (the actor would play basketball or just hang out with my brother during breaks, and he’d often talk about his family and friends), and the hero of the story was played by a skirt-chasing jerk with a filthy mouth. And then my brother said something like, “You wouldn’t believe how common that scenario is in this business.”

That’s when I went home and actually started writing. Additional concepts came into place quickly, but this was the spark that started a fire in me and became a central theme in the novel.

Tyler

My brother Tyler, one of many “Golden Boys” at Fox!

But I didn’t want to fake my way through the filmmaking scenes in the book. I needed to do some serious research in order to make things feel authentic. So on the production side of things, my brother gave me some amazing opportunities to not only tour dozens of sets, but to sit in on the productions of some of my favorite shows, such as Parks and Recreation and Parenthood. I have also been a fly on the wall during sound mixing for another of my all time favorite shows: Chuck! And I’ve also watched Foley artists work their sound effect magic for an episode of The Walking Dead. All along the way, I’ve asked countless (helpful!) crewmembers endless questions in order to get the technical details of NOT IN THE SCRIPT as accurate as possible. But it hardly felt like work. Every bit of filmmaking is fascinating, no matter which side of the camera you’re on. I can’t get enough of it.

Parenthood interior

Why cameras avoid ceilings on TV. The interior of a Parenthood set.

Parenthood Exterior

The exterior of a Parenthood set. Where are all the neighbors? 😉

But I never like to do anything halfway, so I also wanted to learn what acting was all about. For this, I went pretty hardcore and took lessons from an on-set acting coach who works with some of the largest studios. She is also an accomplished actress herself, having starred on a popular television show for over a decade. It was incredibly eye-opening, challenging, and entertaining. But I’ll definitely leave the acting to the professionals while I write in my quiet little corner!

Amy with an Oscar

The only time I will ever hold an Oscar, I assure you.

While doing all of this research I was lucky enough to meet lots of Hollywood stars, including most of the Parks and Recreation cast: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, and Retta. I mingled with them for a full two days, and—I’m not just saying this to be gracious—they were all incredibly friendly and hard-working. There wasn’t a single diva bossing people around or being snippy because their coffee mug ran dry. I experienced the same thing on the sets of Parenthood and Melissa and Joey. The cast and crew of all three shows answered any question I asked with enthusiasm and patience. Each day was an amazing experience to say the least.

P&R_Costume_Rack

A Parks and Recreation Costume Rack

A few moments in particular stand out: During a long break while a set was being rearranged, I had a great conversation with Chris Pratt about his days on one of my all-time favorite TV shows—EVERWOOD! (I miss that show so much! You should binge-watch the entire series if you haven’t seen it. You’ll thank me!)

Aubrey Plaza was in on that conversation as well, and we somehow started talking about on-screen kissing, which turned quite hilarious because Aubrey said something like, “Chris and I have to make out all the time.” And they both said it doesn’t even phase them anymore, but then Chris added that even though it doesn’t feel real on set, all common sense goes out the window when he has to watch his wife make out with other guys (he’s married to the beautiful Anna Faris). Chris Pratt is pretty much a standup comedian, both on and off set, and just about everything that came out of his mouth made me laugh like a fangirling fool. And Aubrey Plaza is so chill and funny! I could’ve listened to the two of them for days. Weeks!

Parenthood_mirror

Funny mirror on the set of Parenthood

Speaking of kissing, one of the scenes I watched on the set of Parenthood was of two college kids making out in a dorm room. The actors didn’t seem to mind that at least 20 people were watching them go at it, but let me tell you, I felt wayyyyy awkward standing there take after take. Like I should cover my eyes and excuse myself. But there was another scene I watched that day that completely mesmerized me. It was of a serious conversation between the characters played by Peter Krause and Erika Christensen.

I can’t even find the words to explain how much I liked these two. First of all, Peter Krause—a three-time Emmy nominee—went out of his way to introduce himself to me (dang, dude, that’s the way to make a stranger feel welcome!). And then Erika talked up a storm to me while I ogled the heck out of her as the sound crew fished a mic wire in and out of her shirt, her coat, and her scarf. It’s quite an impressive feat to hide those tricky little things. And then the scene started, and I was open-mouthed the entire time.

Universal_Sound_Stage

The Universal Studio Lot

The scene was about five minutes long and they performed it with near perfection every time, but it still took about ninety minutes to wrap up. And take after take, Erika Christensen turned on the emotion and a floodgate of genuine tears (no eye drops here, folks!). And then she’d perk right up and do it all over again. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was blown away! If I’d had an Emmy in my pocket, I would’ve run over and handed it to her. It was such an amazing scene to witness.

During this same week, I also had a backstage tour and watched the production of Melissa and Joey, whose stars are also very nice. Joey Lawrence is still a certified heartthrob, and Melissa Joan Hart was filled with bubbly energy and had plenty of kind things to say to everyone around her.

Melissa and Joey

The productions of these three shows were all quite different. Melissa and Joey is filmed in front of a live audience, so there was music and laughing and jokes between shots, and it was all very free-for-all with lots of energy. Parenthood has a massive cast and crew, so the environment was exceptionally organized and controlled (likely to avoid chaos). It ran like a well-oiled machine and was impressive to watch.

The production of Parks and Recreation fell somewhere in the middle. For the first few takes of any scene, the actors would follow the script. Then the director would call “Fun run!” and the actors would keep the same basic structure of a scene intact, but would adlib lines and sometimes straight-up mess with things—creating hilarious results! So if you’re ever watching the show and a scene feels more like an episode of Saturday Night Live where the actors seem to be just as genuinely amused as the rest of us by something funny that just happened, you’ll now know why. It was an absolute pleasure to witness some of the best comedy on television right before my eyes.

My only regret about my experiences on these sets is that I had to sign confidentiality agreements and other documents stating that I would behave myself—which meant that I had to ask for permission before I took any photos. No photos were allowed of hot sets because of the potential for spoilers (episodes are usually shot 6-8 weeks before they are on TV), and I couldn’t take any photos of or with the actors. I couldn’t even take photos of photos of the actors. There were lots of reasons for this.

But I hope you can still picture all of this in your mind! It was amazing!

Thank you so much Amy for the awesome guest post! What do you guys think of Not In The Script‘s BTS story? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

 

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Up for grabs:

 3 Not In The Script swag bags

2 Not In The Script swag bags + Shany cosmetics nail art set

Open INTERNATIONALLY.

Please click on the link below and it will direct you to the Rafflecopter form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the author:

Amy_Finnegan_Bio_Pic_for_Press_KitAmy Finnegan writes her own stories because she enjoys falling in love over and over again, and thinks everyone deserves a happy ending. She likes to travel the world—usually to locations where her favorite books take place—and owes her unquenchable thirst for reading to Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling. Her debut novel, NOT IN THE SCRIPT, came about after hearing several years of behind-the-scenes stories from her industry veteran brother. She’s also been lucky enough to visit dozens of film sets and sit in on major productions such as Parks and Recreation and Parenthood. You can follow Amy on Twitter: @ajfinnegan, Instagram: StrangerThanFictionWriter, Facebook: Amy Finnegan, Author. Or Visit her at AmyFinnegan.com.

ARC Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Wish You Were ItalianTitle: Wish You Were Italian (If Only, #2)

Author: Kristin Rae

Publication date: May 6, 2014

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pages: 352

Source: e-ARC from publisher via Netgalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository 

Synopsis:

Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

My review:

There are moments in life when we wish to do something yet our fears hold us back. Can relate? The book I’m reviewing on my blog today might be the one for you!

Wish You Were Italian is the definition of a worthwhile self-discovery. It is a tale that will truly inspire readers (especially teens) to face their fears, go on an adventure, and grab the opportunities that come their way. I really love it when a novel encapsulates everything that a person goes through in life. Not only do readers relate to the story but also feel that they’re a part of it.

With a fantastic cast of characters, Wish You Were Italian is such an enjoyable read! Pippa, the protagonist, is so admirable. Her transition from a girl who has a lot of inhibitions to a girl who takes a leap of faith is the most outstanding aspect of the story. Also, the decisions Pippa made in her trip to Italy led to her best chance at independence and freedom. Because of that, she is remarkable. Pippa’s best friend, Morgan, plays an important role in in the story. I commend Morgan for what she did to help Pippa come out of her shell. She’s the reason behind Pippa’s memorable and life-changing Italy adventure! Another character I loved in the book was Chiara. Her warm and friendly personality as well as her thoughtful advices for Pippa added dynamism to Wish You Were Italian.

The romance was lovable and satisfying. Okay, there are two guys in the book. One is named Darren and the other is Bruno. Although both guys are irresistibly gorgeous, I love *insert name* more. I was rooting for him and Pippa to be together since the moment they met. Sparks fly every time they see each other! Their love story is the epitome of magical destiny. 🙂 

Wish You Were Italian has the sweetest and most brilliant revelation that I’ve ever read in contemporary YA romance! So much swoony feels in that last scene. My heart was a puddle of melted gelato after reading it. 🙂 The final moment was totally a delightful surprise and I couldn’t think of a more perfect ending than that. SO. MUCH. FEELS! ❤

Kristin Rae’s writing is fresh, lovely, and engaging. What I loved about her style is that her words echo the earnest desires and genuine emotions of the characters. Oh and she has a knack for describing places beautifully! Reading Wish You Were Italian was like a real adventure in Italy. I appreciated the country’s food (gelato and pizza!!), people, and lifestyle. Seriously, my desire to visit Italy someday was magnified because of this book!

Before reading Wish You Were Italian, my view of bravery and self-confidence were completely different from each other. Bravery for me was facing your fears even if you’re scared. While, self-confidence was believing in yourself in spite of the doubts and fears you have in your heart. But then I thought of bringing bravery and self-confidence together to come up with an idea for those who seek inspiration in discovering themselves: You can never be brave when you do not believe in yourself. When we remember this idea, we will experience the adventure of a lifetime just like Pippa had.

Charming and uplifting, Wish You Were Italian is a debut novel that will sweep you off your feet. I highly encourage you to add this book to your TBR pile! You’ll thank me for it. 🙂

 

 

Rating:

5/5 stars