Shenanigans in HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a sweet YA romance from Tara Eglington. HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is a fun and witty spin on teen love–with a girl bent on getting her first kiss from a boy who is worthy of her.

kissingyouAbout the book:

Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help.

When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil.

As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?

My Review:

Aurora Skye tells a charming tale of a girl who wants to meet her Prince, and gift him with her very first kiss. In the meantime, Aurora doesn’t want any frogs stealing that kiss away, and that includes her infuriating neighbor–and former best friend–Hayden Paris.

See, at 16, Aurora wants a real true love, not like her parents marriage which dissolved horribly when her mom up and left one day four years ago. Oh, mumzy’s back, as of a year ago, with her Spanish boyfriend and little time to call Aurora, unless it’s to check and see if she’s ready to begin modelling.

Aurora wants to help all her friends find their Perfect Prince, too, and decides that going for the school play might help couple up her best gal, Cass, with Scott, a new boy who’s friends with Hayden. Hayden is a perennial thorn in Aurora’s side. He’s always seated near her, and is ultra-competitive, and basically in her face, even witnessing her graceless attempts to keep her dates from swooping in for The Kiss. While Aurora wants a secondary part in the MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING production, she and Hayden are cast as the leads–with a kiss in the script! How will Aurora deflect this? And why is Hayden suddenly being so nice to her? Is it because she has a secret admirer?

I liked the back-and-forth of this one. Aurora, for all her desire to be a Love Coach, is a blissfully ignorant young girl. Her quaint idea of having a special first kiss is endearing, and sweet. I liked how she and Hayden had a troubled history, that was partly explained by Aurora’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother. Her father’s given up on the materialistic aspects of his life, becoming New Age Dad (NAD for short), and is currently dating a horror of a woman, much to Aurora’s chagrin. There are some fun bleed-throughs of the Much Ado storyline into the book, with the cattyiness, rumor-mongering and issues with True Love. I will also say that I found the idea of only giving kisses (or any affection) to a partner who is worthy of you to be a very sex-positive and life affirming message for teens. One of the main messages is: you can CHOOSE who gets a piece of you, which is a lesson I feel is underrated in society today.

It’s readily apparent that Hayden is a decent guy, and his continued attempts to befriend Aurora eventually bear fruit. He’s her constant defender against nasty boys trying to sully her name, and a super-duper cat finder when she needs one. The detached parentals were a little convenient, and the lack of proper grounding of the story was a bit irritating to me, as I’m all about setting.  I pretty much had to guess that she was in Australia, based on some buried clues, which later became rather nutty–her dad’s going to NYC for a business trip and returning in a day? Not bloody likely, mate. I really enjoy books set in other countries, and felt the generic descriptions detracted from what could have been a lush read. That said, the book makes up for poor setting with sweet romance.

Aurora does meet her Prince, but really, it’s not when she wants. See, she’s already fallen for Hayden before her Secret Admirer can step forward. Can she accept a kiss from someone she hardly knows–even with his splendid poetry and taste in flowers? Or, should she follow her heart and kiss Hayden before anyone else can get in the way?

Aurora makes the only choice she can–and I liked how lovely it all was. Quite the storybook romance for these previously star-crossed love birds.

Interested? You can find HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and libraries everywhere.

About Author Tara Eglington:

I’m an Australian based author who grew up LOVING YA books. One summer when I temporarily ran low on my reading list, I created my own: ‘How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You.’ The narrator Aurora Skye, bounced onto the page with her tips and tricks for romance, taking on a life of her own as the creator of the ‘Find a Prince Program.’ She’s been so popular with readers that she featured in the sequel ‘How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You.’

My third YA novel ‘My Best Friend is a Goddess’ will be released in Australia in October 2016 by Harper Collins Publishers and tells the story of best friends Emily and Adriana.

‘How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You’ will be published in the US and Canada by St Martins (Macmillan) in October 2016, with ‘How to Convince’ to follow in 2017.

Catch up with Tara online on Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or email.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse April 2016–MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS-A Review

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I’m so excited to share a middle-grade story with a tiny dash of romance. MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is a romp through the world of Dillon, a 7th grade boy, who wants–more than anything–to learn how to dance. And, who secretly loves his dance partner, bestie, Kassie.

My Seventh-Grade Life in TightsAbout the book:
LIVE IT.
All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

WORK IT.
At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

BRING IT.
Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.

My Review:
This is a sweet and charming book about a young boy following his dream, even if it means sacrificing himself along the way.

Twelve year-old Dillon Parker is a perpetual bench-warmer on his middle school football team. That doesn’t stop his father from talking it up, and talking down all his attempts to get training in dance. His two best friends, Kassie and Carson, both have had studio dance lessons, and they detest dance schools for that very reason. Still, they love to dance and this trio works hard at expressing passion in the form of dance. Dillon feels as if he’s the worst of the lot, most of his dance moves being inspired by karate moves, a “style” he calls ninja freestyle. He desperately wants to be better, for himself, and for his dance crew, the Dizzee Freekz, but neither Kassie nor Carson will offer him any instruction.

When Dillon learns that a renown studio, Dance Splosion, is offering a three-week dance camp scholarship he creates an entry video. Too embarrassed to send it in, Dillon’s actually encouraged by his fellow Freekz to do just that: enter the contest, with the intention of turning it down, thereby humiliating the studio.

Yes, it’s a completely juvenile revenge plot. And, it’s deftly executed with just the right amount of doubt, self-examination, and subterfuge. To be successful in the contest, Dillon seeks help from Sarah, Dance Splosion star student. She agrees, at first as vengeance for a slight made by Kassie. When she learns that Kassie isn’t up for the competition, Sarah still helps Dillon learn how to dance, and it’s unclear why she’d help him. A secondary nefarious plot, perhaps?

What I really loved about this book was what I love about most middle-grade: tons of heart, tons of insecurity, tons of finding one’s path moments. Dillon feels simultaneously guilty for accepting Sarah’s help, as he must cut himself off from the Dizzee Freekz as part of his deal, but he’s also rocking out, feeling like a real dancer for the first time ever. Sarah’s an excellent dancer, and a good instructor, but she’s not very nice, and being around her only reminds Dillon of how much fun his other friends are.

The plot of the book allowed for many ups and downs, with great supporting characters that are real, and very much imperfect. I had so many fantastic moments of YES! and other fantastic moments of DON’T DO IT, DILLON! There are plenty of excellent insights about being true to one’s self, following your dreams, Don’t give up, being a team player. All of this happens organically, and Dillon’s an excellent naive hero. He’s an everyday kid, no special talent, and all of his success, if any comes, is down to his hard work. Dillon also has to educate his father regarding prejudice, and you can be sure the G-A-Y word is tossed around–not without consequence! Such fun, and told in a way that’s totally engaging and accessible to kids of that age. Expect a diverse cast, a tiny dash of romance, and unexpected friendships.

Interested? You can find MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and likely your public library.

Thanks for popping in! Hope you’ll bop over to check out the fave reads of my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers.