Tag Archives: scholastic

ARC Review – The Swift Boys & Me by Kody Keplinger

18693363Title:  The Swift Boys & Me

Author: Kody Keplinger

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis:  Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.

Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?

Nola’s struggle to save her friends, her unwavering hope, and her belief in the power of friendship make Kody Keplinger’s middle-grade debut a poignant story of loss and redemption.

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’m a new Kody Keplinger fan, and since I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read by her, it was natural I was going to end up devouring The Swift Boys and Me. If there’s one thing Keplinger does well, it’s give us characters with very distinct voices and personalities, and Nola and the Swift boys follow suit.

What I loved about this story is it’s one of growing pains. Nola spends a large chunk of her life next door to the Swift boys, so she knows a lot about their difficult family life and hardships, yet never judges them for it. Moreover, when when she’s mad at Canaan in particular, there’s a part of her that is always waffling between forgiveness and aggression, and her emotions are so perfectly written. 

To be honest, I’m not sure why people are weary of Kelinger writing a middle grade novel, because I think she borrows her talents of making tough exterior characters and bringing them to a new playing field. Nola has so much growing and learning, much like Whitney in A Midsummer’s Nightmare, but has the spunk of Bianca from The Duff. She’s a fantastic little protagonist to follow — she knows what she wants, and she is always seeking to the do the best or right thing. I love that about her.

I was also in love with Teddy. He was just such a great character from the start. Wasn’t likeable right away, but he grows on you and experiences the same types of growing pains that Nola does. I also loved Canaan because he goes through a different kind of growing pain, and one that makes him so unlike-able at times, yet you feel for him. You feel for him from the start of the novel to the end.

Ultimately, what I loved is that The Swift Boys and Me captures growing pains with such ease, that it makes for a great read. The characters are fantastic, Nola’s voice eases the reader into the complications of her life and the life of those around her, but there’s always this glimmer of hope. If you love Keplinger’s YA books, don’t be afraid to try her first middle grade endeavour — it’s a beautiful story of friendship.

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ARC Review – Everyday Angel #1: New Beginnings by Victoria Schwab

FC_BC_9780545528467.inddTitle:  Everyday Angel #1: New Beginnings

Author: Victoria Schwab

Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★★★

Synopsis: At a first glance, Aria seems like your average twelve-year-old girl. She has coppery hair, colored shoelaces, and a passion for cupcakes. But there’s more to Aria than meets the eye. She can dream things into existence, use her own shadow like a door, and change the world in small, important ways. Aria is a guardian angel. She’s been sent here to earn her wings. But to do that, she’ll have to help three different girls.

Aria’s first mission is Gabby Torres. Gabby’s always been quiet, but ever since her brother got sick, she’s barely said a word.When a new school offers her a fresh start, Gabby wants badly to be someone new, but she quickly learns it’s hard to make friends while keeping half her life a secret.

And then Aria shows up. Aria, who knows exactly what to say and do to make Gabby feel better. Will she be able to help Gabby find her voice? And will Gabby still trust Aria when she finds out exactly what she is?

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review (4 Star):

Never judge a book by its cover. It’s hard not to sometimes. To be honest, my love of Victoria Schwab’s work holds no bounds, so I was delighted that she was writing a middle grade series that seemed cute and fluffy. That covers suggests that this book is cute and fluffy, but it’s surprisingly anything but.

The best way to describe Everyday Angel is that it essentially the television show Touched by an Angel, but surprisingly less preachy. It’s about understanding the world around you, trying to make sense of situations that are challenging, and above all, make tough subject matters more accessible to younger readers. All these things I mentioned? Yeah, Schwab nails them with ease.

Part of what I loved about this first book is that it dealt with someone having a terminal disease with no guarantees for a cure. Gabby is a character forced to accept her reality, but it’s one that causes her to struggle and even make her feel invisible to her family because her brother’s needs are so high maintenance. There’s no sugar coating in this story, Schwab uses the character of Aria to make these issues accessible to younger readers and there’s such a genuine sense of care from a lot of the responses that Aria provides to Gabby. She reminds Gabby that her feelings are normal and natural, something that a lot of kids her age would definitely struggle with.

This book is also not without humor and charm. I REALLY adored the character of Aria and I appreciated her lack of worldly knowledge, something that removed parts of the Touched by an Angel aspects that appeared in the story. We need more characters like her that are able to make everyday issues be something that we can talk about with children, that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about with our children. Overall, I cannot wait for book two of this series, because when Aria gets into trouble — boy is it fun to read about!

River’s Review (5 Star):

I only read this book because it’s written by Victoria Schwab. I loved her Archivedbooks (well, the first one, I haven’t had the chance to read the 2nd one yet, but I’ll get to it) and wow. This was so touching. I normally don’t read MG because I just can’t get into that well. YA is as young as I go, but sometimes an author I like writes a MG and I’ll give it a try. And this was lovely.

Gabby’s brother Marco is suffering from cancer and Gabby’s getting lost in the shuffle. She’s trying to be there for her brother and mother, but nobody’s there for her. Their father isn’t in the picture, and Gabby’s starting 7th grade in a new school in a new town. She’s excited to get away from the stigma of having a sick brother, which caused a lot of people to pull away from her at her old school, but at the same time nobody’s really supporting her. 

Then Aria shows up. Aria’s an angel who’s earning her wings. This is NOT religious at all. There is no mention of god or heaven or anything religious. Aria is simply an angel who is sent to help Gabby. And she does. She helps Gabby at school, helps her find something she’s passionate about, and she helps Gabby figure out her family situation. Aria doesn’t fix her brother, doesn’t fix anything really, and I really enjoyed that. She was just a helper, simple as that.

The writing is gorgeous and I never once felt that I was reading something for the MG audience. Most of the time I shy away from MG just because it reads too young and a lot of the emotional stuff is capped so I can’t even really feel much. But man, this touched my heart so many times and I got choked up a lot. There are sad moments, happy moments, and in-between moments all through this book.

And there are strong messages, which I think is totally appropriate for a MG book of this theme. Family, friends, loss, finding yourself… it’s all woven into the story, but nothing is heavy handed. 

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series to see who Aria helps next! And to read more of Schwab’s gorgeous writing!

ARC Review – Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

18527496Title:  Catch a Falling Star

Author: Kim Culbertson

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter’s town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam’s girlfriend while he’s in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn’t at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what’s real and what’s fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds – her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Catch a Falling Star is pretty adorable, if a touched too cliched for my tastes. Ultimately, a lot of the cliches are what really held me back from loving this book.

There’s a lot of genuine emotion in this novel. Carter is vivid, she’s able to express her feelings with ease, and she’s easy to identify with. However, she’s also written to be too perfect and she’s not always the best at taking blame. The romance in this book is also a case of a good girl turning a bad boy into a sweet one, and unfortunately I don’t like the types of romances where everything is perfect. Yes, Adam and Carter fight, but they also make up and it weirdly never felt like a big deal. May be I’m just not huge into that archetype, but I never found myself rooting for the two of them.

It also doesn’t help that Adam is the stereotypical rich bad boy who needs fixing. I don’t find those types attractive, and a lot of the time he was just too much of a snot for my taste. I can see his appeal for some readers, his charms just made me roll my eyes a lot. I found him frustrating, self-entitled, and I can barely handle those people in my normal life so no matter how hard I tried to find a way to like Adam, I just couldn’t a lot of the time.

However, I LOVED the style of writing in this book. There’s blog posts inserted into the text, and Culbertson really just eases the reader through the story. It’s nice that Carter’s voice is someone a lot of us can relate to, and for all her perfection, I did enjoy reading about her unexpected movie star life because she’s just so darn charming. I think this is also helped by the secondary cast of characters, especially Alien Drake and Chloe, who were always supportive. You got to love the tenacity of a heroine who is willing to give up so much for the people she loves. I did admire that quality about Carter and the novel.

I also loved the moral in this story, it’s unexpected but completely endearing. It had moments of corniness too, but I feel like that was somewhat to be expected. The premise is far from originally, but I can’t ever say I found myself bored while reading Catch a Falling Star. The writing really just has this knack of pulling you in and giving you a fun tale of young love. It’s just cute and fluffy, and I liked that the book was able to balance its humor and angst, something I feel many books struggle to do. I think there’s lots to enjoy about Catch a Falling Star — it didn’t wow me, but it certainly kept my attention from start to finish.

Late to the Party ARC Review – The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colors of Madeleine #2) by Jaclyn Moriarty

19160352Title: The Cracks in the Kingdom

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Princess Ko’s been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can’t get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens — each with a special ability — from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello.

Chief among these is farm-boy heartthrob Elliot Baranski, more determined than ever to find his own father. And with the royal family trapped in the World with no memory of their former lives, Elliot’s value to the Alliance is clear: He’s the only one with a connection to the World, through his forbidden communications with Madeleine.

Through notes, letters, and late nights, Elliot and Madeleine must find a way to travel across worlds and bring missing loved ones home. The stakes are high, and the writing by turns hilarious and suspenseful, as only Jaclyn Moriarty can be.

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I really enjoyed A Corner of White. It was quirky, fun, and a little crazy. But then again, the The Colors of Madeleine series has always been about crazy ways of communication, and the second book Cracks in the Kingdom continues the adventures in cross-communication between Elliot and Madeleine.

Overall, this took me awhile to get into. The plot started off a bit slow, a touch unfamiliar and it wasn’t until about halfway through that I found the pacing had really hit its stride and took hold. The characters are still fantastic, the new ones just as fun and well-realized, and once again there was such a fantastic sense of humor that I found myself laughing throughout.

This book’s touch of seriousness though was really its best part. Some of the communication between Elliot and Madeleine gets so heated, and yet you understand both sides of the argument without much difficultly. Totally broke my heart so many times.

I do think this book is actually on par with the first one> I don’t know if I would say it’s better, but the charm and the insanity of the first book is still very much alive in this story. The ending was solid and fit really well that I hope that there isn’t a continuation. If you like fun, quirky world-building and characters, I highly recommend this series. The writing isn’t always the easiest to get into, but once your in — your in for the long run.

ARC Review – In The Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di Bartolo

shadowsTitle:  In the Shadows

Author(s): Kiersten White & Jim Di Bartolo

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes a spellbinding story of love, mystery, and dark conspiracy, told in an alternating narrative of words and pictures.

Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch.

Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC.

Sam’s Review (4.5 Stars)

I feel like I am one of the only people out there who has never experienced a book by Kiersten White. I’ve been told many awesome things, and it’s always been a case of just not having the time to get to every single author I’d love to read something by. When I saw this was up on Netgalley, I had to grab it based on the premise alone. The blurb really doesn’t do the dual-narrative justice at all!

Before I go into the writing I want to stress what a visual experience this book is. Jim Di Bartolo’s artwork is both beautiful and even horrifying at times, and paired with White’s writing, you have two different tales running simultaneously throughout with two stories to keep track of, though both are quite connected and when you get to the end, a lot of parts really come together.

In the Shadows is an eerie and uncomfortable read. A lot of the time the characters read out of a horror film in terms of their mannerisms and behaviour. I can’t say I always liked Minnie, Cora, Thom and Arthur, but having their stories woven together by a supernatural feeling that just can’t be shaken off is pretty damn scary. There’s a lot of horrific descriptions when it comes to people dying, and because this book has such an old world feeling to it, it makes it harder for the creepy feelings to be shoved away.

This is definitely a book I want a physical copy of, just so I can with ease, go back and forth between pages. I found myself constantly flipping back and forth just to check what I had read because this narrative is a bit overwhelming and easy to get lost in.

I don’t want to spoil a lot of this book because I feel it’s one that will benefit from multiple readings. It’s not a book where all the answers are in your face, but rather they must be pieced together and each piece does not always feel like it has a set place. That being said, I feel like it’s a book that gives you more each time your read it, and the illustrations are just so breathtaking that you might find yourself looking for all the smaller details within. This book is definitely worth checking out when it releases, especially for those who love a great mystery with a supernatural flavour included.

River’s Review (4.5 Stars)

This is one of those books that can’t really be described, it must be experienced. And I HIGHLY recommend reading this in physical format. I’m going to buy this so I can flip through the illustrations more easily. There were SO many times when I wanted to go back, but between my iPad lagging (because the images are so big) and just hating having to flip back and forth on a digital device, I didn’t do it very much.

Also, this is NOT a ‘story with illustrations’. This is TWO stories told side by side: one in words, one in illustrations. They do weave together and at the end it all makes sense, but you WILL feel some frustration up until the middle. I was trying too hard to connect the pictures to the words and I should have just let it go. I think having been able to flip back to the illustrations more easily would have alleviated this problem though. But don’t think that this is just a story with some pictures, think of it as two different things.

I am a HUGE fan of White’s work (I’ve read everything she has out, and loved it all!) so I was really pleased to see her signature solid writing in this. But this IS a bit different from her other work because it’s historical (I guess? I’m not sure when it’s set… but it’s def. not contemporary). There are a lot of paranormal elements, but you never fully know what kind until the end. There are hints of magic, hints of evil… but you’re left to guess what exactly is happening until the pieces click click clickkkkkk together.

I love the characters and the sibling relationships. I loved Arthur and his outsider/loner status. I liked the way things clicked along. I do think that because this is a bit short (half of it IS illustrations, so the actual written story is probably only 200 some pages) some of the depth that I usually enjoy with White’s writing was lacking. A few of the romantic scenes were a bit rushed and seemed to not fully come out of nowhere, but they were kinda like ‘whoa’ too.

This was my first experience with Di Bartolo’s art and HOLY HOLY COW (insert other expletive here, I’m trying not to swear so much in my reviews) was it ever amazing. These illustrations were not just ‘pictures’. They weren’t just ‘drawings’. They were not ‘something to supplement the written portion of the story’. They were full blown PIECES OF ART. The art in this book is sexy and creepy and brilliant. They tell another story, a story that connects to the written story, and in the end merges together. I found myself drooling over the artwork and I want to see them in their full, glossy-printed glory when this comes out.

So pick this up, devour it, drool over it and enjoy it! It’s one-of-a-kind.

Book Chat – A Book Written Just For Me

Have you ever read a book and thought: “Wow, this book felt like it was written just for me!” A book that has themes, ideas, concepts, anything really that just screams “me!” I love when I read a book and feel like the author has gone into my head because of themes or ideas that I often think about. Or heck, even if the book has similar interests to my own I often count it.

18599748My choice for a book like this is: Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff.

After finishing the book a few weeks ago and then Interviewing the author over @RPGamer.com, I found myself having one of those moments. First off, it’s a book about gamers, particularly two people who play RPGs (role-playing games) in various forms: Lesh likes massive-multiplayer games, while Svetlana loves Dungeons and Dragons. The novel’s key theme is looking at the roles we play in our lives, but uses gaming as an element to drive the narrative forward. In a lot of ways Brezenoff has written a sweet, if touching look at gamers, particularly those who feel like  oddballs because of the things that they love. 

 
In reading “Guy In Real Life,” I find myself completely nodding along with the story. Both Lesh and Svetlana are social outcasts, but their voices are distinctive and natural. Their views of the world around them feel valid, if selfish at times. While I don’t play MMOs (I do play tabletop RPGs from time to time), I know what it’s like to get so invested in a game (or even a book) and just escape reality to avoid dealing with problems. There’s a desire to want people to understand who you are. I admit it took me a long time to feel comfortable with myself, but when I finally did I had people love me ten times more, but I equally had people who left me because our tastes had changed. For me role-playing games are huge part of my life, heck I write for an RPG based website in my spare time! We always have fear of change, but we also have to accept who we are as well, even if others don’t. That is what I truly connect with when it comes to “Guy in Real Life.”
 
 
 

River’s Choice: “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater

I think out of the most recent pile of books I’ve read, the one that I really felt was made for 9780545224918_p0_v2_s260x420me was Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. SAY WHAT?! Not The Raven Boys? Haha, while that is the best book IN THE WORLD, I don’t feel that it was made for me (or that I can do it justice with anything I could write about it) but when I read The Scorpio Races I totally felt like it was just for me.

Why? Well… let’s back up a bit. A long time ago a friend recommended it to me. And I looked at the cover and looked at the blurb and got ‘scorpio’ mixed up in my head with ‘scorpion’ and just had this image of like, people in Egypt racing across the desert on horses while trying to outrun scorpions or something. IDEK OKAY. I just didn’t have ANY interest in it. 

But then came The Raven Boys and my undying love for Maggie Stiefvater was bone. So I picked this book up and it sat on my shelf and then I was all ‘okay self, give it a try!’ and when I did HOLY GOODNESS.

Maggie Stiefvater + Horses + Ocean

Those three elements had me hooked and it was like she was writing this for me. Not only do I currently live by the sea, it has always been my dream to live by the sea (yay life dream realized!). I also used to ride horses (all through middle & high school) and I wanted to be a jockey (but I was too tall) and race horses (life dream not realized). So all through this book I was just able to picture this as basically my pre-teen fantasy life come true. There were also little elements scattered through the story that were mirror images of my life (small town, mom-made sweaters, etc. etc.)

I even bought this book for my mom for Christmas because I thought it would remind her of me so much. (Plus I always have to share the Maggie Stiefvater love!)

So as much as I love and adore and obsess over The Raven Boys (Ganseyyyyyyy) I feel like THIS book was the one that was crafted just for me (ha! I wish it was).

So River and I want to know: what books have you read lately that have made you feel like it was written just for you?Let us know in the comments!

ARC Review – Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

17228280Title:  Better off Friends

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:  For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way. Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for the advance reader copy of this book.

River’s Review (4 Stars)

This book was SO cute. I was totally drawn in when I saw it was about opposite-sex best friends. From 8th grade until 2007, my best friend was a guy and I was in love with him. We went through a lot together and I was SO totally able to relate to both Levi and Macallan’s situations and feelings. Unfortunately my story didn’t turn out like theirs (I ended up dumping his ass after years of being unable to fully define and commit to what our relationship was) and that was a huge, painful, life changing thing. So I was really cheering for these two through the entire book.

I LOVED the characters. Levi and Macallan were both such strong characters. They both knew who they were and what they wanted (even when they weren’t being totally honest with each other). I loved their banter and their love for a fictional BBC TV show (at least I think it’s fictional?). I liked their fights and how they were resolved. And I loved their families. Macallan stood up for what she believed and Levi really struggled to find himself, and was able to. Both voices were fresh and realistic.

I thought this was really unique because it spans many years. The story starts off with the two in 7th grade and over the course of the book time covers up until their senior year of high school (I think, it might have been junior year). For such a short book it did that really well and I rather enjoyed reading about their young, pre-teen days.

This book has alternating chapters, but the voices are SUPER clear and I had no trouble keeping track who was speaking. Also, the artwork was SO cute (each chapter starts with an image of the boy or girl from the cover to indicate who’s POV it was). And at the end of each chapter the two characters are having a conversation and reflecting back on what was told in the chapter. I really liked these sections, but due to the formatting (probably just an ARC flaw) it was sometimes unclear (there wasn’t any indication that it had switched from the first person POV to the conversation) and I really hope that the final copy has something super cute to indicate the change.

The only thing that I didn’t really like was the ending. I was hoping that they were at their wedding or something, reflecting back and telling their story (hence the conversations at the end of each chapter) but it just kinda trailed off…

Sam’s Review (4 Stars)

This is my first Elizabeth Eulberg book, and I have to say this one was quite the pleasure and introduction. <i>Better Off Friends</i> explores a boy and girl friendship (how often does one get to write that?) and shows the complicated aspects of what that type of relationship entails, be it assumptions, over-protectiveness, and possible feelings. I loved how easy it was to fall into this story and how wonderful Levi and Macallan’s points of view felt. Eulberg writes this very natural, real story that is easy to relate to if you’ve been in this situation (something I have dealt with) and doesn’t fluff it up for the sake of tension.

First off, this book has a very fast-pace. It’s easy to engage with and there’s such a natural tone of voice for both our protagonists. We get a huge sense of how their friendship works and why they behave the way they do. Truthfully, I was a lot more fond of Levi’s chapters if only because it was nice to read a male point of view and it *feel* like a proper boy’s point of view. Levi is a darling, but he’s a complicated soul who’s a little dense when it comes to people’s feelings and emotions, where as Macallan is so much more heighten in ways that Levi could never be. I just, I loved them both equally and more so than I thought I would. Plus they met through the mutual love of a British television show — I can jive with that.

I really love how this story moves from 7th grade to high school and the progression of time doesn’t feel as though its rushed or forced. Everything about this novel has so much ease, but it’s downfall is its ending — it simply trails off without feeling entirely completed which was quite the bummer. Considering the time progression I felt like there should have been a bit more to tie everything up.

I don’t think this will be the last book I’ll read by Elizabeth Eulberg, and in fact, I think this one may just be the beginning of a potential author binge. This book is wonderfully sweet, smartly presented, and one that if you like contemporary, should be on your to-be-read pile.