A Monday with Maggie Stiefvater

 

Yes, I know it’s not Monday today but I simply have to tell you the story of my Monday afternoon from a few days ago! It all started around 3pm on Monday afternoon…

I got a phone call from my husband telling me that Maggie Stiefvater’s car was at his shop right. now.  Maggie Stiefvater is into cars (though I’m sure you knew that, considering she has some seriously cool vehicles that she posts about and even has a hashtag #stiefvater cars on her Tumblr account) and her car with the notorious “THIEF” license plate just so happens to be a type that my the company that my husband works for works on (okay, that was a horrible sentence, but you know what I mean). I had seen in a tweet before where she mentioned the shop by name so I knew that she had been there before (where I promptly freaked out) so I quietly reveled in the fact that she had been to my husband’s work before and they had helped tune the THIEF car!

So it’s Monday afternoon and I didn’t even think about making this connection between the shop being near Chicago, knowing Maggie often drives her cars to events, and the fact that I just saw her on Saturday at ALA in the city. I got a phone call from my husband saying that his company just posted a photo of her car on the dyno (a dynamometer that in short, measures the power of the engine and spits out reports that help tuners see and maximize performance) and tagged her in it on their Instagram story. Now I’m guessing that most people who follow the shop’s account are car people, not book people, so if they know Maggie Stiefvater, they probably know her for her cars and that fact that she writes articles for Jalopnik from time to time, probably not for her books… But since Shane knows that I love her books and that she’s taken her car to his shop before, he knew exactly who that tag was and immediately let me know.

We had a few excited and maybe incoherent phone calls back and forth when I realized she was at the shop that was currently ten minutes away from me and literally on my way home from work. Like, I would pass the shop — and her — on my way home. “Would it be weird if I asked to go over there?” I asked him, thinking that maybe I could swing by and say hi but truly not wanting to be creepy and dropping in out of nowhere, being a fan that was invading her privacy. I knew it wasn’t like I was following her and trying to figure out where she was but in this crazy turn of events, it just so happened to be a place that I knew, frequent, know the employees, and my husband freakin’ works there, so it’s not so crazy after all. “Let me make a few phone calls!” Shane said, and got on the phone with his co-workers.

His closest friends were in meetings or on conference calls and was having a hard time getting a hold of them so after a few phone calls to them and then back to me, I told myself it was totally okay if this didn’t happen. It was purely coincidental and again, didn’t want to be a creepy fan and just show up. I definitely wanted permission from the shop to drop in and of course, Maggie’s permission herself as she would be giving up her time to talk to me, a complete stranger.

Finally at 4:51pm, he called me back and said, “She’s waiting for you. Go right now!”

“RIGHT NOW?” I said, trying to mentally prepare myself because I had just spent the last 30 minutes at my desk pretending to try to do work but really trying to think of conversation starters in my head so my first words to Maggie Stiefvater weren’t “werjleksdjkhakjsdjf”.

“Yes, right now!” He said. “They’re waiting to close up the shop. There’s only a few minutes left of the work day. Just go!”

So not wanting to just skate out of work early and look bad, I popped into my boss’s office to ask if I could leave a few minutes early. He told me “of course” without even asking why (sometimes this place really is great) and I immediately packed up my stuff and got in the car. I texted my friends that IT WAS HAPPENING, freaked out for a while, chastised myself for not wearing a better outfit that day, and promised everyone I’d take a picture. I tried to put my audiobook on in the car but how can someone concentrate on listening to a book at a time like that!? So I gave myself a pep talk on the way over, still racking my brain for something on this Earth to talk about. I raced down the street, trying not to speed too much, knowing that MAGGIE WAS WAITING FOR ME, and then I got STUCK BY A FREIGHT TRAIN. Fortunately it was moving quickly but the whole time I was shouting to it “go go go go gooooo Maggie is waiting!!!”

I finally pulled into the shop and I was so dazed that I didn’t even notice Maggie’s car sitting out front, tucked behind another car (unless they had pulled it around when I was inside), and I walked in the front office to go find the sales manager who had set this all up on the shop’s end. I walked in the front door and THERE SHE WAS. I waved to the sales team and then Maggie turned around and I possibly gave the either creepiest or most excited wave I’ve ever given in my life.

“Are you here for me?” She asked.

“Yes, hi! I’m Brittany!” I replied, and we launched into conversation from there.

I thought I would be totally tongue-tied but we actually had some really nice conversation! I was a little awkward at first but I told her that she might know me from my candles because I run and own Novelly Yours.

She said “Yes! The candles! Blue and Her Boys,” with little bit of a grin at the name.

AHHH she knew my candles!! She knew who I was, in a way! She told me she had received three of them so far (So thank you to everyone who gave her one!!!!) and she’ll be burning them for the rest of the year! She asked me what other kinds of candles I made so I had told her about the other Raven Cycle candles that I make and she seemed excited to hear of them. We actually talked about candle-making a bit, asking me if I stirred a giant pot of wax like a witch’s brew (I wish. That would actually be pretty cool) so I detailed the candle-making process a bit and we talked about how I got into making candles of my own.

“So how did you get into making candles?” She asked me. “I’m sorry, I’m sure you get that all the time.”

“Not at all!” I told her, and launched into how I got my start making candles and starting Novelly Yours. I’m sure she answers the same questions over and over way more than I do and who doesn’t want to tell a favorite author about the candles that you made specifically because of their books? It was truly a dream to be able to discuss. I told her about the November Cakes and Scorpio Sea candles and she asked me what the November Cakes candle smelled like, excited about the scents that I described. I told her I’d be happy to send one her way and she said she would love that!

We continued to talk about books — what I was reading (I showed her my copy of THE WICKER KING and forgot to tell her that the friendships in it so far remind me a little of all of the Raven Boys combined), what book I was most looking forward to in the fall (I drew a TOTAL BLANK and helloooo I couldn’t say ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS?) and told her that I was so deep into candles right now that I haven’t been keeping up with my TBR.

“So deep into candles — that’s a sentence I didn’t expect to hear when I woke up this morning!” she said with a laugh. I explained how I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks, especially while I work.

We ended up talking about ALA and I told her that I saw her there on Saturday (as pictured above!). She had asked if she asked me what my favorite book was and I said she hadn’t! So I told her my favorite of the Raven Cycle is BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE  — “Ah, the unfinished sentence” — and overall, my favorite is probably THE SCORPIO RACES. I shamelessly told her that I’ve actually only ever listened to the audio because it’s so good and that I listen to it every year. We launched into a conversation about the audio for that book and she shared some funny anecdotes about a bunch of 90-year-old librarians swooning over Steve West at an event at which Maggie, Steve West, and Fiona Hardingham were present for an award. She told me that she actually had gotten to choose the narrators for that book and that it was the first audiobook that Steve West had done so I profusely thanked her for that because I love his narrations, trying to contain my creepy and refraining from telling her that I just listened to eight books narrated by Steve West in the past three months.

I embarrassingly didn’t recognize Courtney Stevens who was with her (I think it was a combo of sunglasses and the fact that I was so starstruck) and we were introduced somewhere along the way of the conversation! I apologized for not recognizing her and told her that I had read THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH and loved it! She mentioned her upcoming novel DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS which comes out in August and said, “You know what? Let me grab it for you. I was going to give it away anyway,” and went out to her car to grab an ARC for me. “It has a Doc Martin on the cover so you know it’s good,” Maggie said. Courtney even signed it for me, “to make it more valuable when you sell it on eBay,” Maggie joked to which I gasped, “I would never!” though we both knew of course I wasn’t selling it on eBay.

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“I actually am more surprised when someone does want an ARC personalized,” Maggie told me. She said she doesn’t even keep copies of ARCs of her own books anymore because it’s just too many copies and she understands that most people pass an ARC along or it just falls apart over time so it makes more sense to get a finished copy personalized.

We started winding down the conversation and although I was having so much fun, I really didn’t want to keep her there any longer than she wanted to be. We wrapped up our chat and I told her I didn’t want to hold her up so with a quick few words back to the shop’s sales team, we parted ways, but not before I asked if she would mind if we took a photo together. “I would not mind at all,” she said, and Courtney was nice enough to take a photo of us…. as my phone once again ran out of space. Thankfully she took two before my phone decided to be so rude (“I knew it would do that,” I told them. “I was deleting things on the way over here!”) and then it was time to go.

I neglected to take a picture of Maggie’s car on my way out because she was already in it and felt like that would be a little weird so I just admired it as I pulled out of the parking lot and reveled in what had just happened. I called my husband on the way home to share some of the details and then tried to listen to my audiobook on the way back home but was admittedly a little too dazed and starstruck to really focus.

It was a crazy whirlwind of events that totally brightened up an otherwise stressful and frustrating Monday. Shane was so wonderful to set that all up for me with the phone calls back and forth to his shop and I thanked the shop and Maggie and Courtney for taking the time out of their days to make this happen for me. It was so nice of everyone to stay at the shop and let me stop by to say hi to one of my favorite authors. I can’t even say it was a dream come true because I would have never thought that this would be something that would have happened, so I guess I have to say it was beyond my wildest dreams!

Thanks again to Maggie Stiefvater for making my day and for making this incredible story happen. It’s always wonderful to fall in love with an author’s work but it just makes reading their books that much more special when you know how much they appreciate fans and give up their time to do things like this for me. It was a truly unique and special experience!!

Top Ten Tuesday: June 27, 2017 – Top Ten Books of 2017 (So Far)

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic: 
Top Ten Books of 2017 so far

I’ve actually had a lot of misses with only a few stellar books so far. I was just thinking how it’s only been a few months but really, it’s been half a year!! There’s still some time left to find some super-hits of 2017 but here are a few of my favorites from the year so far!

STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor
This was easily one of my favorite reads of the year! I’ve been waiting for Laini Taylor’s new book for so long and finally go to read it in April! It was gorgeous, just as I expected, and of course had all the feels.
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4.5 stars


A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab
My experience with Victoria Schwab has been reeeeally hit or miss (both in reading and in interactions) so I had been hesitant to start this series for a long time. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC! I honestly thought the first book was the most solid of the series but it made my list of top books so far this year.
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4.5 stars


HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA by Kerri Maniscalco
I absolutely adored STALKING JACK THE RIPPER from Kerri Maniscalco last year and was equally pleased with HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA! I think the first book remains my favorite because I enjoyed the Jack the Ripper story line just a bit more but another very, very solid release from Kerri and I am a huge fan!
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4.5 stars

THICK AS THIEVES by Megan Whelan Turner
I binged this series on audio over the past couple weeks (I just checked and I listened to the entire series in three weeks!) and this last book was by far my favorite of the series. The characters felt the most developed, I was engaged the whole time, and I loved the relationships.
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4 – 4.5 stars


THE WAY OF KINGS by Brandon Sanderson
I’m a huge Brandon Sanderson fan and I’ve slowly been making my way through allllll of his books. THE WAY OF KINGS is by far the largest so I put it off for a long time. I’m glad I finally read it because although it was very different than what I expected, it was quite enjoyable! The ending was epic and I’m excited to continue the series.
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4 stars


GEEKERELLA by Ashley Poston
This book was soooo cute and spoke to my geeky fangirl heart! It was easy to read, a lot of fun, and a great Cinderella adaptation of the digital age!
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4 – 4.25 stars


QUEENS OF GEEK by Jen Wilde
Speaking of geeking out, QUEENS OF GEEK was also a wonderful book! The loves stories were cute, con aspect was spot on, wonderful diversity, and super solid characters. I loved everything about it!
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4 – 4.25 stars


WIRES AND NERVE by Marissa Meyer
This was my first-ever graphic novel and it was so much fun! It was super easy to read and I accidentally flew through it and finished it in a day! I love anything Marissa Meyer and it was great to get more of my beloved Lunar Chronicles gang, plus anything Iko is a win.
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4.5 – 5 stars


A MILLION JUNES by Emily Henry
Emily Henry’s debut will still be my favorite but I loved that A MILLION JUNES had the same story-telling style and magical realism aspect. She has a way that sucks you into the story and puts you right in the feels!
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4 – 4.25 stars


BAD ROMANCE by Heather Demetrios
This book was so hard to read but in a good way. It was easy to see how Grace got stuck in this damaging relationship and couldn’t get out, even thought it was obvious to everyone else that it was harmful to her. It was an amazingly realistic book which made it eye-opening, scary, and emotional all at the same time. Heather Demetrios did a great job with this book.
Goodreads | Review | My rating: 4 – 4.5 stars


Those are my top books of the year so far! Not too many that really hit the 4.5 star mark and really no true five star book. I think STRANGE THE DREAMER may be the best book I’ve read all year and it was like allllllmost 5 stars but certain things held me back!

If We Were Having Coffee… June 23, 2017

Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner has been doing a series called “If We Were Having Coffee” that’s a nice blog series started by many bloggers out there to catch people up on the odds and ends of life that doesn’t fit into a pretty blogging box. 

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If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I made probably the worst coffee I’ve ever made this morning!! Okay, it’s not THAT bad but it wasn’t good. I didn’t have time to filter new water because I forgot to fill up the pitcher and our town’s water just doesn’t taste good unfiltered!

If we were having coffee… I wish Starbucks delivered right now…

If we were having coffee… I’m still a little behind on blogging because I’m trying to work hard at work! I took on a new position a few months ago and it’s been a lot of constant catching up, but I try to keep blogging and getting new posts up at least three days a week here!

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I’m going to ALA this weekend woooooo! It’s in Chicago so I decided to grab myself an exhibits pass and hit the floor on Saturday and maybe Sunday as well.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I’m SO EXCITED I get to meet Kerri Maniscalco this weekend at ALA!! I just adore her and her books and cannot wait to see her in person!

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you candle business is still  booming so that’s another reason why I’m behind on the blog… But I still love my blog and don’t want it to get left behind!

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I’m almost done bingeing the The Queen’s Thief series on audio! I have to say, the hype monster got me a bit and I think it was built up quite a bit. I’m still enjoying it a lot but I’m not totally in love with them.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that because of this series binge and other audios, I’ve maybe accidentally listened to eight books narrated by Steve West in a matter of a few months (mid April until end of June). I can’t help it when I love an awesome narrator!

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I still haven’t read many good five-star books lately. Lots of solid fours, some good threes, and a couple disappointing twos but haven’t read anything that I really fell in love with since I finished STRANGE THE DREAMER back in April.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I’m excited for the TOWER OF DAWN cover and I love the blue on it! I wish Chaol would have been on the cover since Celaena/Aelin is on the covers of all of the other books. I’m also really kind of out of this fandom by now… I’ve had a hard time with the last few Sarah J. Maas books, especially in terms of writing/editing, so while I’m excited to read Chaol’s story, I also feel like I may have the same issue with TOWER OF DAWN and the last Throne of Glass book, so I really hope it goes well.

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If we were having coffee… I’d let you know that I’m getting back into my personal #bookstagram! I’ve been having fun getting creative with photos again, and not just for Novelly Yours, and following some photo challenge prompts throughout June. I remember I used to have a hard time keeping up with photo prompts and now they’re actually my motivation to keep taking photos.


Thanks for sharing this coffee date with me! I’m glad I got to catch everyone on up on everything that’s been going on. Life has been non-stop, with so many things to do, and I really am trying to keep up with my blog because I’m still so proud of it and so happy with this little corner of the internet. I’m okay with slowing down and things being a little bit different but I definitely don’t want to lose it!

Book and a Beverage [175] – Terri from Second Run Reviews

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Terri from Second Run Reviews!

Name & Blog Name: Terri M., Second Run Reviews
Tell us a little about your blog! I started Second Run Reviews in December 2013. I originally wanted to start on January 1, 2014, but I read an amazing book (Traveler by Dennis W. Green) and wanted to share the book with the world. 
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? Back in March 2015, I wrote a blog post about how being brave and finding hope and survival through reading. For me, it was laying my worries about my job out there (without being too specific) and connecting it with one of the things I love to do most, reading.
Got anything special coming up we should know about? In the Spotlight is a feature on my site where I spotlight authors via interviews, guest posts and book release announcements. I will be opening up reservations for 2018 soon. And while I initially was considering charging a small fee for the feature, it will remain free for 2018.


Whatcha reading?
I just finished reading Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell.
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc) Well, I purchased an electronic copy via a Christmas sale that Amazon had last year. I can honestly say that sale was one the few times I can admit I was a little click happy.  Then, during the COYER Blackout Challenge, I won a physical copy and decided that since I had two copies, it was probably a sign I should read it.
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? I have a soft spot for fairy tale retellings since I discovered The Princess series by Jim C. Hines and The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen. Mechanica definitely hit that soft spot for me. A strong female lead who pursues her talent with mechanical works and realizes she has to live for herself and not some guy or her horrible stepfamily.  Also, the Faerie in the world believe that you can make families with friends. This is something I’ve experienced in my own life so that message resonated with me.
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? Since I’m an aunt now, I’m always on the lookout for books my sister and brother can share with their kid at some point in their lives.  There’s not much violence in this novel and there’s isn’t any sex. I think this would be a fun book to read aloud with kids.
Oh, and I found out book 2 is coming out later this year!

Whatcha drinking? Coffee.  Straight up black in the winter. I make my own cold brew concentrate in the summer..
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? Coffee (or tea at night).
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Definitely coffee.  I think I’ve become a bit of a coffee snob and have started to prefer making my coffee at home by grinding my own beans especially after we got a Keurig.  I was sick of buying the little pre-filled cups so I got one of the reusable cups (that was trial and error to find one that worked) and got a burr grinder after my standard bean grinder died.  Now I grind my own beans for my hot and cold brews.
I prefer a medium or dark roast coffee if anyone is wondering.  And I think that Starbucks Breakfast Blend makes the best cold brew concentrate.  Oh, and I prefer to visit local coffee shops over chains when I can.

What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? Outlander by Diana Gabaldon | My review
Traveler by Dennis W. Green | My review
Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen | My review
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? I’ve been reading most of my life and blogging since 2013. As my blogging life and bookish convention attendance increased, I discovered I had a knack for connecting with people (which should have been obvious since I was in college admissions for 6 years and project management for 10+ years). Local authors I connected with started asking me for advice about their books and marketing.
As my life in the corporate world started to go downhill, I seriously started looking for opportunities to work with authors. In January 2017, I took a huge leap and joined with Author Accelerator (authoraccelerator.com) and became their Launch Specialist. My work there focuses largely on managing their course offerings. It’s a dream job that allows me to combine my weird crop of technological and project management skills and my love of reading.
They are also responsible for giving me that coffee mug that appears in the pictures.
Anything else you’d like to share? Connecting with authors is still my most favorite thing after 3 years of blogging whether I’ve read their book or not. I’ve had more positive interactions than negative ones.  Attending bookish conventions has expanded my book world immensely.  I wholeheartedly encourage people to look up smaller fan-run conventions (upcomingcons.com/) and signings (https://www.facebook.com/groups/authoreventsaroundtheus/) in their area.  They are usually inexpensive to attend.  And because of some of the events I’ve dared to attend, I’ve run into some pretty famous folks (check out How Not To Meet A Celebrity. My Exciting Adventures At Phoenix ComiCon. http://www.secondrunreviews.com/2017/06/not-meet-celebrity.html).


Thanks, Terri! Ohhh I am DEFINITELY checking out these links! I was just looking for something like this for conventions! I can’t wait to read your “How Not to Meet a Celebrity” too!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Terri! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog // Twitter // Facebook

Review in a Tweet | Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is ALCATRAZ VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the first in Sanderson’s middle grade series and I wasn’t planning on reviewing these books since I don’t have a whole ton to say about them, but with this new concept of a review in a tweet, I thought this would be the perfect way to still say a little bit!

I’ve read the first two Alcatraz books so far and they’re very fun! A little bit silly, but it is also middle grade so there’s that younger tone there. It actually reminded me of the tone in the Reckoners series, with some intentional laugh-out-loud moments that are there purely for laughs. The story line is a bit young for me (but again, middle grade) so it’s not as engrossing as I would say his other books are but the Alcatraz books are such quick and easy reads! I’ve been trying to go through them on audio because it’s so fast and they’re easy to listen to at high speeds too!

 

Fast Five Friday | Geek Chic

fast five friday

I love blogging and writing and recommending books… but I know that I tend to get a little long-winded in my blog posts! FAST FIVE FRIDAY is a means for me to recognize some favorite books and round them up for recommendations without talking your ear off.

FAST FIVE FRIDAY | GEEK CHIC

Geek is in, my friends, and I love reading fantastically nerdy books. I even made a shelf on Goodreads for geeky reads (I may be a tad obsessed with creating shelves) and since I’m in the middle of QUEENS OF GEEK right now, it seemed like the perfect time to share some quick recs! (See my shelf for the rest!)

What: The Summer I Became a Nerd
Who: Leah Rae Miller
Why: From cheerleader to LARPer in one book, this adorable read is about being true to yourself and allowing your inner-nerd to shine!
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: Ready Player One
Who: Ernest Cline
Why: Virtual Reality, video games, 80s references… this book has it all. Plus, you can get even geekier by listening to the audio, narrated by the awesomely well-spoken Wil Wheaton. His narration brings this book to life!
Where: Goodreads| Review

What: Illuminae
Who: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Why: Teens in space! Space battles, rocket ships, intergalactic politics… all documented in the form of emails, instant messages, and records. Oh yeah, and an evil computer robot.
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love
Who: Sarvenaz Tash
Why: It takes place at Comicon!! Do you get much better than that? The two main characters are huge fans and write a comic together as well. It’s geeky perfection.
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: Geekerella
Who:  Ashley Poston
Why: Another book at a con! The main character’s father started a con based on a favorite space TV show and a Cinderella adaptation to boot. Just adorable. Texts are prominent in this romance.
Where: Goodreads | Review


That’s my fast five for today! Have you read any of these gloriously geeky books? Do you have any more recommendations? There are a few coming out in 2017 and 2018 I can’t wait for as well!

Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) – Jessica Park

Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) – Jessica ParkTitle: Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) by Jessica Park
Publishing Info: May 18, 2011 by Independent
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2017

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

bookreview1

 

I picked up FLAT-OUT LOVE in an Audible sale because Julia Whelan is one of my favorite female audiobook narrators and I had seen a lot of positive reactions from my Goodreads friends. I really didn’t know what it was about before I started but I was pleasantly surprised with its content and tone!

FLAT-OUT LOVE was a wonderful mix of serious and sarcasm. Main character Julie ends up moving in with a family friend (and the family that comes with her) after being scammed on an apartment listing for college and ends up staying there throughout the year. The story revolves around the family that Julie moves in with and their delicate balance of affection and stoicism, most noted by 13-year-old Celeste’s attachment to a cardboard cut-out of her older brother Finn, who is away travelling the world. I won’t rehash the whole plot but essentially Julie brings levity and a fresh outlook on life to this family and really breaks through a point where they were all standing still, holding their breath. I loved Julia’s personality and attitude. She brought a light to that house and so much humor, sarcasm, and high spirits. There were plenty of serious moments, as this book is clearly harboring some deep secret with Celeste’s quirks that no one will talk about, but I thought the balance was really well done. If this had been a strictly serious or tragic book, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much.

Every relationship was really well-crafted. Julie is able to connect with each person in the house on a different level, even if it’s not deeply. Julie shakes things up and yes, breaks a few hearts by making them admit the “bad things”, but ultimately is able to show them that standing still is no way to live if you can’t ever move forward. I don’t really know how I feel about the romance because without spoiling anything, it gets complicated on soooo many levels and there’s a level of trust that was broken with me as a reader that I don’t think I could have personally come back from, but Julie is a forgiving soul and of course she wants to make the relationship work because it is quite sweet in its core.

While FLAT-OUT LOVE was a quick and addicting read for me, I really don’t have any interest in its companions. I tried reading FLAT-OUT CELESTE and her voice was just very difficult for me to at least listen to, though I don’t know about reading, and I don’t have an interest in FLAT-OUT MATT since it’s really just the same story but in parts from Matt’s POV. Julie was the best part of the book and without her, the stories don’t really have a draw for me.

I think FLAT-OUT LOVE is a great contemporary read and good book for those who don’t want to shy away from real life but also appreciate some good humor and lightness in times of darkness.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The nitty gritty. I’ve been shying away from the more rough patches of life and have had a strong preference for the light and fluffy. I’m glad I read FLAT-OUT LOVE and that the balance of light and dark was there.
Left Me Wanting More: Honesty. If the family had been able to just tell Julie what their life-changing situation was, there wouldn’t really be a book… so obviously that’s why there’s a secret there, but I wish everyone had just been a bit more honest. I know they didn’t want to talk about the THING but it seemed silly to keep it from the person who was living in your house.

Addiction Rating
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I actually really enjoyed this one, which surprised me! I loved Julie’s outgoing, sarcastic, and friendly tone.

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