All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Such A Rush – Jennifer Echols

Such A Rush
Jennifer Echols
MTV Books (Simon & Schuster)
2012, 325p
Copy borrowed from Mandee

Leah has always lived on the wrong side of town. Her mother was just a teen when she had Leah and they’ve moved from trailer park to trailer park ever since, usually leaving behind a landlord owed money. When Leah was 14 they moved to South Carolina in a trailer park near their town’s small airport. Leah was used to airports, she’d lived near a lot of them. She wandered over to ask for a job, got one doing paperwork and filling up the small private planes when they landed and slowly, slowly saved her pennies for flying lessons with Mr Hall.

Three years later, Leah is a qualified pilot and Mr Hall has hired her for his banner flying business, a job that Leah fears is no longer when he dies suddenly of a heart attack. Hiding her devastation at losing the man who was like a father to her, Leah looks for another job in all the wrong places until Mr Hall’s twin sons, Alec and Grayson tell her that they’ll be keeping the banner planes flying. Leah has had a crush on bad-boy Grayson for some years but she’s not sure she wants to commit for flying for them if they’re not going to stick it out. The last thing she needs is to have no job for the summer when they get bored of running the business and have all the other local flying jobs be gone. Grayson blackmails her into flying for him with a few threats and some reasons of his own involving his brother Alec.

Now Leah finds herself possibly dating one brother, but drawn to the other one. It’s not going to end well.

Such A Rush is the latest novel from one of my favourite contemporary authors, Jennifer Echols. I do like how Echols chooses a wide array of social backgrounds for her characters, ranging from clearly very wealthy to well, trailer park residents struggling to get by. Leah is determined and often rough around the edges, but you consider her upbringing, the constant moving, her mother following boyfriends on whims, being gone a lot of the time and relying on Leah to pay the bills and it’s clear she’s had to grow up way before her time. It was often hard to keep remembering that Leah was just finishing school, she came across as a bit older and probably the fact that she flew a tiny plane for a living helped give that impression too.

There’s obviously an attraction simmering between Leah and Grayson, but he wants her to date his brother, confusing Leah which makes her resentful and often snappy, which in turn leads to Grayson fighting back. He also has a slightly skewed impression of Leah which doesn’t actually reflect well on him and at times he made me sort of mad when he was judgemental, having no idea how difficult Leah’s life had been. But then Leah also never told anyone her circumstances and there was something about her demeanor that led people to believe she was perhaps a bit more free and easy with her affections than was the truth, so you almost couldn’t blame Grayson at times, not that it was really an excuse for being rude. However he was also jealous, which didn’t help him and his ability to keep his mouth shut either.

(Irrelevant fun fact: When I was pregnant with our second child last year, I wanted use the name Greyson if it turned out that it was to be another boy. We found out at the 20wk scan that yes, it was going to be a boy but my husband was all *thumbs down* and “I am meh on the name Greyson”. I wanted to use Hayden as a middle name after my grandfather who died when I was 15 and I didn’t like the sound of Greyson Hayden – too much ‘n’ sounds. So I abandoned Greyson in favour of another name but it’s still filed away in my mind if #3 occurs and happens to be another boy).

Love triangles, especially between brothers often make me a little icky but I think it was the way in which this one played out that meant I could still really enjoy it. I liked Alec in his own right but it was always Grayson who had my interest and I love the way he was forced to totally reassess his views on certain things and also embrace his new life and choices. Both Alec and Grayson are grieving, having lost not only their dad, who they had quite a fractured relationship with after he separated from their mother, but also their older brother Jake in a very short time frame. Grayson’s idea to run the business and keep it afloat was grounded in loyalty and also a sort of desperation to keep the remaining members of his family together and alive and I did admire him for wanting to do that even if the ways in which he went about some things were incredibly flawed.

Such A Rush is a fun story with a very serious side, which is what I’ve come to expect from Echols’ books for this particular line. The characters are flawed but fascinating and after Love Story, which fell flat for me, it’s nice to see some chemistry positively sizzling between Grayson and Leah. They were a couple I could definitely cheer for.

8/10

Book #87 of 2012

 
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The One That I Want – Jennifer Echols

The One That I Want
Jennifer Echols
Simon Pulse
2011, eBook
Read on my Kindle

Gemma Van Cleve has been persuaded by her friend Addison to try out for the Majorettes, even though it’s not the sort of thing that Gemma wanted to do. Spurred on by having to audition in front of everyone, Gemma loses 35lbs so that she can’t be taunted about her weight. To her surprise, she makes the team, even enjoying herself as she performs her complicated routine that she’s practiced over and over.

At Majorette camp a little later, Gemma is pleased to notice that the attractive kicker from an opposing high school’s football team is meeting her eye and looking interested. Addison sweeps in and assumes he was looking at her, dragging Gemma over to introduce them. Before Gemma can blink, Addison is telling her that the kicker, Max, has asked her out and that his friend Carter wants to go out with Gemma. Gemma isn’t at all interested in Carter but she agrees when Addison persuades her into it because Addison comes from a stricter background where she isn’t allowed to do things without friends like Gemma going along. And it isn’t worth the trouble that Addison will cause if Gemma refuses her.

So Gemma finds herself tagging along as part of a reluctant foursome, having no interest in Carter and suspecting that, despite what Addison says, he’s not interested in her at all either. It’s Max that holds Gemma’s attention. Because of their locations, Max picks Gemma up before double dates and they meet Addison and Carter at a pre-arranged location. Those times in the car alone with Max only convince Gemma more and more that he is the one she wants. But Addison is so desperate to have him and equally desperate to push Gemma in the direction of Carter. Although it seems that Addison regrets that a little when Gemma starts to get a little attention at school – after all Carter is attractive, well known and a star player for his school’s football team and they are great rivals with Gemma and Addison’s school team. People are wanting to know if Gemma really is going out with the cute opposing player and combined with how well she’s doing as a Majorette, Gemma (who has now lost around 50lbs) finds herself rather liking her new self and her newfound popularity.

But the thing about secrets is, they don’t ever stay secrets. Gemma can’t hide her feelings for Max forever and it isn’t  going to be long before everyone else finds out too.

Jennifer Echols is an automatic buy for me. I pre-ordered this one on Kindle and it randomly just showed up one day when it hit midnight on the US East Coast which was pretty nifty. I didn’t read it right away, I was saving it for when I felt like something light and fun and after the cluster of hot mess that was The Mill River Recluse I knew that I had found the right time.

Gemma is the daughter of very wealthy, separated parents and due to her weight, she lacks self-esteem. She has few friends and the one friend she does have is a toxic user and abuser who belittles and embarrasses Gemma in order to make herself appear better. Addison sweeps in and in assumes Max was staring at her, railroading everyone into going along with what she, Addison wants when really none of the other participants were interested in doing that! Gemma is a kind person who you can tell avoids confrontation and is used to blending into the background, probably due to being taunted over her previous weight. Gemma is (or was) a clear comfort eater, burying herself in cobbler and buttery desserts to dampen the disappointment and pain of her father leaving her mother for another woman and now rarely seeing her and her mother throwing herself into charity work, having little time for talks and quality time with Gemma.

Max is the second love interest in Echols’ books that is at least part Asian (Doug Fox in Forget You is half-Japanese) and Echols touches lightly on an Asian tall, skinny student playing football in the deep south of America. I did find the ‘Do I look foreign in this?’ moments amusing as well and enjoyed Max overall as a character. He was quirky and fun and seemed perfectly suited to Gemma, if ever they could remove themselves from Addison’s meddling. I didn’t particularly like Carter even as a peripheral character

The toxic friend can be a little overdone but I think Gemma’s background with Addison was well enough fleshed out and established that it was easily believable how Addison could be so obnoxious without Gemma telling her to basically sod off. When Gemma loses the weight that bothers her, makes the Majorette team and starts to find strength and confidence, as well as another friend or two, she is better able to start standing up for herself where Addison was concerned, although I do wish she had done it a fraction earlier!

The One That I Want isn’t my favourite Echols novel (that will probably forever be Forget You) but yet again it’s another deeply likable story with great characters and a well written and tight plot. If you are a fan of YA contemporary then this is a perfect addition.

7/10

Book #45 of 2012

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Love Story – Jennifer Echols

Erin Blackwell grew up in luxury on a horse farm in Kentucky. Her grandmother is wealthy beyond belief and raised Erin after her mother died when she was about 12 and her father disappeared, never to be seen again. Her grandmother is grooming her to take over the horse farm and wants her to get her degree in business – just like she did. But Erin dreams of being a novelist and wants to major in English. When she tells her grandmother this, her grandmother cuts her off and says that her paying Erin’s college tuition is a privilege, not a right. If Erin is so careless about her heritage then she can fund her own college degree.

Erin is even more incensed when her grandmother announces that she’s instead transferring her financial aid to Hunter Allen, the stable boy. She’s paying for his degree in New York and now grooming him to take over the horse farm instead of Erin. Erin and Hunter have a chequered history. They were friends as children, when Hunter first moved with his father to the horse farm. But something happened to change that and it’s been a fairly hostile and distant relationship ever since. Erin now has double the reason to resent Hunter now that he’s stealing her birthright.

When Erin’s story is first to be critiqued in her creative writing class, she’s horrified when Hunter transfers into that class late. The story she has written is about him, an 1850’s historical romance set in the lush Kentucky fields she called home. She knows that Hunter will know that the story is about him and she desperately doesn’t want him to tell their teacher that Erin has based this story on real life. So Erin and Hunter begin playing a sort of game with their creative writing stories – each of them are writing stories about the other and to provoke a reaction in the other. Most of the other students in the class are clueless but there are several that are aware that Erin and Hunter know each other. It’s a dangerous game to be playing and Erin knows that she could be jeopardizing everything she’s worked so hard for. She has busted her butt in a string of low paying jobs as her scholarship only covers her tuition and she still needs money to pay for her dorm and food. It irks her every time she sees the ‘stable boy’ flicking a glance at his new Rolex or fiddling on his new, top of the range cell phone when Erin can’t even afford a cell phone anymore. She doesn’t even have health insurance since her grandmother kicked her off the family plan.

Erin daydreams in her job in a coffee shop and writes happy endings for mythical pairings she creates out of her customers. Now she’s thinking that she might just have to write a happy ending for herself and put aside all of this childhood bitterness and rivalry.

Jennifer Echols has been one of my favourite contemporary YA writers since I first read Forget You last year. I followed that up with Going Too Far and then made my way through her entire back catalogue in very quick time. Doug Fox and Officer John After remain two of my favourite male characters in YA fiction. I was way excited for this book a long time before it was due to be published. I ended up getting it on my Kindle because I was too impatient for it to be shipped to me but then I didn’t read it until today, a month after it was released.

I was disappointed. I’m used to totally falling in love with her characters and it just did not happen in this book. I thought I would love Hunter, or at least get a kick out of seeing his name so often, because my son is named Hunter. But to be honest, I didn’t particularly like him at all. He was sneaky and underhanded and far too cocky. And I didn’t like Erin either. Quite often Echols’ female protagonists are battling some issues and normally I can buy these issues. But Erin’s poor little Rich Girl routine didn’t really do much for me. She was prickly and defensive and in her creative writing class, often downright unlikable. I also couldn’t understand the supposed attraction between her and Hunter. They’d been friends 6 years ago when they were twelve but then a couple of things happened and they didn’t talk until meeting up again in college. To me there was no chemistry, no spark. And I’m used to these books having that in spades.

Love Story isn’t a bad book – I read it in a couple of hours sitting in the sun on an absolutely beautiful, very out of season Melbourne winter’s day. But to be one hundred per cent honest, it’s not a great one. The characterization seems lacking, the relationships not clearly drawn or well fleshed out re: a decent back story and the ending is really abrupt and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. In fact when I realised I was actually at the end and my Kindle was telling me 100% I was like what the heck? My file is incomplete! I had to go back and re-read the last page a time or two again and try and figure out if that really was the end or if I had been dudded. It read like the end of a chapter and then there should’ve been another one after it where Erin resolved her issues with her past and her family.

6/10

Book #137 of 2011

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The Boys Next Door & Endless Summer – Jennifer Echols

These two books are published together in my version. If you’re going to read them, it’s best to read them in order (The Boys Next Door first and then Endless Summer). I’m going to review them both together in this post, but talk about them separately, if that makes sense.

In The Boys Next Door we meet Lori who is about to turn 16. Lori lost her mother when she was younger and was raised by her father, a nanny/au pair named Frances and spent most of her time hanging out with her older brother Bill (who is known by the nickname McGillicuddy) and the three boys next door, Adam, Sean and Cameron Vader. During the summer she works at the Vader’s marina store and wakeboards with the Vader’s and her brother in her spare time. She’s a total tomboy who has absolutely no idea how to flirt or be feminine or anything! But now that she’s turning 16 she’s determined to be noticed by Sean Vader, who is two years older, has just graduated and will be off to college in the summer. She thinks that Sean is the one for her because of something her mother said to her about twelve years ago. She also places a lot of emphasis on her 16th birthday because of how important her mother stressed it was, making her a scrapbook for it and telling her stories about the lovely ‘grown up’ ring she herself got from her parents on her 16th birthday. Because of these two things combined, Lori is absolutely sure she’s going to hook Sean Vader and awkwardly puts in motion a plan to catch his eye. Stage 1 is “Cleavage revealing top” and Stage 2 is “bikini”.

Lori is clueless. Oh, so, clueless. But’s kind of appealing in her own way and it’s obvious to see just how much her sheltered and tomboyish upbringing has had to do with her naivety. When she spies who she thinks is Adam, the youngest brother and about her best friend kissing his girlfriend at one of the famous Vader parties, she makes her way in to try her luck with Sean. But the Vader brothers look very much alike and when she gets close to the brother inside she realises that that one is Adam – so therefore it is Sean kissing Adam’s girlfriend Rachel outside!

Lori is crushed but she comes up with a genius plan – her and Adam will pretend to hook up and make Sean and Rachel crazy with jealousy! Adam is surprisingly into the plan and is willing to do anything *cough* to make it seem real and it’s him that draws Lori into steamy kisses and embraces, despite the fact that this was all Lori’s idea. Suddenly Lori starts to wonder – which Vader brother is she really after?

Like all Jennifer Echols novels, this one was cute. Lori was likable despite being extremely stupid at times when it came to boys and she tried so hard but she really was rather sweet underneath. Adam was one of Echol’s heroes-with-a-twist this one being that he suffers from ADHD, can’t sit still and does crazy stunts that often put him in hospital. I liked Adam and I loved how even though he was the crazy one, he almost grounded Lori. His family frustrated me because it seemed that Adam was blamed for a lot of things because of his ADHD when really Sean was just a total and utter d*ck to him. Sean was extremely irritating – player, disloyal to his family, rude and unfair to his brother, using the weakest spots to hit  him with and he even lashes out at Lori cruelly and unfairly during one scene where they are all watching a movie at the Vader’s. Sean needed a good sharp slap and a dressing down and I found myself wanting to reach into the book and shake Lori to her senses because Sean was just…nothing.

Despite a few nitpicks, I really did enjoy this cute story. It was a fun summer afternoon read and I love passing the time with these YA romances because they’re just light and sweet. It’s not my favourite Jennifer Echols book but I’d still recommend it to anyone who likes her other novels, or who likes these sorts of teen reads!

7/10

Endless Summer starts only moments after the conclusion of The Boys Next Door. Lori and her new boyfriend manage to get themselves into some hot water when they go out on their first sort-of real date and fall asleep, meaning that Lori is very late home, breaking curfew and angering her father, who immediately goes into ‘overprotective’ mode, banning Lori from seeing her boyfriend all summer. Lori is devastated, especially when new boyfriend’s parents agree, thinking that they’re not responsible or mature enough to handle the sort of relationship they’re diving into and that some time apart will be good for some growing up.

Lori, who is disastrous at making plans, comes up with another corker – she’s going to make her dad change his mind about letting her see new boyfriend because she’s going to pretend to date a string of other guys who will make new boyfriend look squeaky clean. New boyfriend isn’t entirely happy about this idea (err, who would be?) but Lori is Lori and once she’s on a roll, she can’t be stopped. She is sure this is the best way to reversing her dad’s rule and she dives into it headlong, choosing several candidates and setting up her ‘first date’.

Sigh. This clearly had ‘spectacular fail’ written all over it from 300 paces but Lori is like a bulldozer, refusing to listen to reason, refusing to just think for one minute that this sort of behaviour might be why she got herself grounded from new boyfriend in the first place! Not to mention that new boyfriend of 5 minutes isn’t in love with the idea and everytime he gets jealous or hurt from her actions, he seeks to hurt her back because he doesn’t know how else to let her know that what she’s doing is upsetting him and he’s a teenage boy and they’re not very good at expressing their feelings. When her first attempt fails Lori still doesn’t learn her lesson and she steps it up yet another notch, choosing the person who will hit new boyfriend below the belt the absolute hardest.

Okay here’s where I kind of didn’t love this book. I like love triangles to a certain degree – but this wasn’t a love triangle and Lori was basically just hooking up with another guy in front of her boyfriend (even though she didn’t actually know he was there watching, she had told him what she intended) and it just seemed too far to believably be part of a plan to let her see new boyfriend. It seemed a bit too hurtful and even though we’ve established in The Boys Next Door that Lori is immature and clueless around boys and in relationships you can’t tell me that there is a girl out there who thinks she could do that and not hurt her significant other. I’m avoiding saying who her boyfriend is, and who the guy is that she uses so as I don’t spoil the previous book but I’m quite certain that anyone who reads the first novel will be able to guess who I am alluding to.

I normally love sequels! I’m a big sequel fan. But this one, even though it was written by an author I’ve really come to love recently, just didn’t do it for me. That’s not to say I disliked it altogether – I did like it and it was still an amusing read, despite the fact that it probably seems otherwise in this review. I just think the core issue could’ve been a little bit more…dramatic and the way in which it was dealt with, not so close to cheating with permission (or in this case, without it) as possible. Lori just couldn’t see how disastrous her plan was, and even when it backfired in her face she couldn’t see it! She still kept wanting to go on and take it to another (even more ridiculous) level. She needed a female friend with half a lick of sense to seriously pull her up short and give her a better way to handle it. Because there really were better ways – and in fact, the perfect way ends this book. And if only Lori had allowed that to happen earlier, all the mess would’ve been avoided.

A bit disappointing after the previous standard I’m used to from this author, but not hopeless!

5/10

Book #100 and #101 of my 100 Book Challenge.

Yay! My 100 Book Challenge of 2010 is complete!

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Going Too Far – Jennifer Echols

Ok I think I might have a little bit of a writer/girl crush on Jennifer Echols. I’ve read four of her books in a very short period of time recently and although Forget You is my favourite, this one, Going Too Far comes pretty close.

Meg is 17 and a few months off graduating and getting the heck out of her small town and going to University. She’s reckless, indulging in enough outrageous behaviour that her father has washed his hands of her and has pretty much ordered her mother to do the same thing. One night before Spring Break, before Meg gets to go down to Florida and see the beach, her and her “boyfriend” Eric and two friends of theirs decide to go up to the railroad tracks where a young girl and her boyfriend were killed several years ago after they couldn’t outrun the train. They are arrested by the local conscientious police officer and taken to the station. Eric’s rich lawyer father bails him out and the parents of her friends, Brian and Tiffany, come to collect their respective children. But no one comes for Meg. Her parents are done bailing her out after her reckless behaviour and it’s up to the police despatcher to take her home after a night in the police station.

As punishment, the officer that arrested them recommends that the kids be forced to spend a week on the nightshift with the people that had to be called out to the railway bridge because of their reckless behaviour: the police themselves, the fire department and the paramedics. As predicted, Eric’s rich laywer father gets him out of this punishment and it’s up to Meg, Bryan and Tiffany to fill the three spots. To Meg’s dismay, she draws the police squad car for her punishment – and the humourless police officer who arrested her.

Eventually Meg comes to realise that this Officer isn’t quite what she imagined. He’s not as old as she thought she was, nor is he as humourless. Officer John After is only 19 and graduated one year ahead of Meg from her high school. He’s changed a little since then – about 20lbs of muscle mostly and a no-nonsense buzzcut. He’s dedicated to protecting the citizens of their small town from the dangers of the railroad bridge and he’s dedicated to making silly teenagers like Meg wake up a bit and realise that their lives are too good to waste drinking too much, taking drugs and sleeping with deadbeats like Eric. Although they have many differing opinions, and argue about pretty much everything, Meg and Officer After come to realise that there’s a little bit more to each other than meets the eye. As they spend that week together on graveyard shift in the squad car, they are both falling in love. But both of them want very, very different things out of life. Meg wants nothing but to get out of this town and never come back. John chose to come back and work as an Officer in this town and he doesn’t want to leave.

Firstly, Meg was quite an interesting character. Unashamedly breaking the law and happy to do it with underage drinking, drug taking, trespassing, etc she made no apologies for her behaviour. You got the idea early on that there was more to her attitude that simply a teenager just acting out of boredom but the reveal is still beautifully done and brings a clarity to her claustrophobia and her addiction to running. John too has his demons, also foreshadowed but still as shocking. They circle each other, getting to know each other, learning things about the other, hurting each other (mostly Meg looking to “stab John in soft spots”) and the attraction between them and the connection, is sizzling.

That is what I love about Jennifer Echols books. The attraction, the bond, she can create between her male and female leads. It was scintillating in Forget You and the chemistry in this one is just as strong. Her emphasis is on strong, mature, generous and multi-layered male love interests who balance out the often troubled and needy female protagonists. Both Zoey in Forget You and Meg in Going Too Far have secrets they are keeping, hidden issues that are affecting their judgement and colouring the choices they make, some of which are often bad for them. In contrast, both Doug and Officer After, although they have their own demons, are the more stable characters, more ‘grown up’ and more open. They provide support and stability. This could easily go over as ‘macho male characters making decisions for weaker female characters’ but it doesn’t. Echols has a good balance of just how much support and reasoning the male love interests can provide without crossing over into taking over territory. She also gets the balance right of giving them just enough vulnerability to make them human without making them laughable or too good to be true. Well okay, they might be too good to be true…but a reader can dream. And part of reading romantic fiction is the dreaming!

I might be in the minority here (and I probably am, as a lot of people love conflict in their romantic fiction) but I could read novels of couples that have the wonderful bond and chemistry, like the couples in Jennifer Echols novels, just… being themselves. Just being together and living their lives and expressing the way they feel about each other. I’m a sucker for a couple that speaks to me and Jennifer Echols creates couples that speak to me. I have two novels of hers left to read to tide me over until July of 2011. I’m not sure that’s going to work.

8/10

Book #85 of my 100 Book Challege

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Forget You – Jennifer Echols

This was the second book I read for the 24hr Read-A-Thon. I’m just going to get this out of the way right now – I love Doug. Love him utterly as a character, wish I could kidnap him and keep him sort of love. Okay now that I’ve got that embarrassing fangirl moment out of the way, let’s go.

On the outside, it looks like Zoey has it all. She’s attractive, popular, rich, the captain of the high school swim team. Her father owns a water slide park and she works there over the summer and has used that to get most of her swim-team friends summer jobs also. Unfortunately, look a bit below the surface and you’ll see that Zoey’s life is about to hit meltdown point. Her dad has knocked up his 24yo girlfriend who works at the amusement park and Zoey and her mother have had to leave the family mansion and live in a rental apartment. To top  it off, Zoey came home and found her mother unconscious from a dose of pills and she is rushed to the hospital.

Zoey’s dad – pretty much a douche. Not only was he cheating on her mother and seems to keep everything in the separation despite Zoey’s mother coming from money, but when he arrives at the hospital after Zoey’s mother has had her overdose, all he seems to care about is bullying everyone who knows. He threatens Zoey, the police officer who arrived on the scene etc – to keep quiet so that no one finds out the ex-wife he left has tried to top herself and had to go to the loony bin. Zoey has noticed in the waiting room that the cop’s younger brother has turned up with food for him. Aah, enter Doug. Doug who is on the swim team with her, Doug who asked her to the year 9 dance just before he disappeared into juvie, Doug who has seemed to loathe her ever since he got back. Zoey realises with horror that if Doug knows, then soon enough everyone is going to know.

After leaving the hospital, Zoey is feeling reckless enough to go down to the beach for one of the swim team parties where she hooks up with Brandon, who works at the amusement park with her and who is on the football team. Inexplicably, especially after listening to and giving Brandon advice on all his summer conquests, Zoey seems to think that her and Brandon are going out after they seal the deal in his Buick at the beach. I don’t quite understand why she thinks that, but she does. They have sex, then they basically go back to the party and go their separate ways.

Zoey has to move in with her dad while her mother is in a psychiatric ward getting diagnosed and treated and her father and his girlfriend are planning to elope to Hawaii. Zoey goes to yet another party (a record for her!) and she has a wreck in her Bug on the way home which Doug pulls her out of. She can’t remember anything for a couple of hours prior to the wreck or anything after Doug pulls her out of the wreck until she wakes up in her bed the next morning. When her dad realises that she can’t really remember what happened, his reactions is something along the lines of “oh God, we’ll have to cancel Hawaii because someone else is loony now!”. He is a lovely person, yes? Zoey quickly realises that pretending that she remembers everything is the only way to go here, so that’s what she does. To everyone. And that is why she is massively confused when Doug comes over to see how she is and seems to be under the impression that they are together…. And where is Brandon? He’s no where to be seen. Zoey needs to find out what the heck happened that she can’t remember but the only person who seems to know is Doug. And is she ready to hear it?

Firstly, Zoey irritated me just a little. I can understand why she didn’t want her father to know why she couldn’t remember but the way she went about getting Doug to tell her what happened was a bit silly. I understand that she thinks that she can’t trust him because of the whole thinking-he-hates-her thing and the juvie thing but honestly, he does nothing for her to think that and she must realise pretty quickly that he’s not going to tell anyone about her mother. And the whole “but Brandon is my boyfriend” when clearly he was not was just ridiculous. For a smart girl, when it comes to Brandon, Zoey really is quite stupid. But despite that, I liked her as a character. She was flawed, she allowed herself to read more into a hook up than there really was, which I found very real. She was obviously under a lot of mental stress with not being able to see her mother while they were treating her (this turns out to be pretty important) and the callous disregard for her welfare shown by her own father and she made decisions that I think she would probably not have made if she wasn’t under so much pressure.

Brandon is a bit of a cliche (do people really act like that? maybe they do) but as previously mentioned, I did love Doug. Yeah he starts off looking a bit 2D – the bad boy who has been to juvie who apparently hates our main character. But the more we get to know him we realise that he is so much more than just the bad boy. It was a really wonderful journey, learning all the little intricacies and personality traits of Doug and I almost started to think he was too good for Zoey when she couldn’t see what was right in front of her face! But Zoey’s journey is one of discovery too and there are several things she must learn and see for herself before she can make the decisions that are right for her.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice, easy read that I flipped through in probably under two hours but it wasn’t silly or vacuous or anything like that. I have heard pretty good things about Jennifer Echols and if all her books are like this, I can well understand why. I’ll definitely be looking for some more of hers because I really think she can write a story. She sucks you in and gives you characters you can relate to (or dream about!) and a plot that is as interesting as it is easy to read. This book is like fresh strawberries rather than candy- sweet but not saccharine and it leaves you satisfied.

9/10

Book #74 of my 75 Book Challenge

Looking for another review? Check out Shannon’s over at Giraffe Days

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