Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mini Reviews: Wild Awake, September Girls, The Kissing Booth

Wild Awake
by Hillary T. Smith
Published:  May 28, 2013
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books
Source:  Publisher/Edelweiss
Goodreads  | Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

My Thoughts: While home alone when her parents are on vacation Kiri receives a call about her sister's "stuff," and is told she needs to come get it.  Weird, really weird, considering her sister has been dead for 5  years.  Kiri is a piano player with a supposedly really great future ahead of her, but she spends a lot of her time doing drugs (weed) and acting just downright crazy, going from a seemingly normal person to giving the term "cray cray" a whole new meaning.   During all of this she meets Skunk, who has his own mental issues, finds out the truth behind her sister's death, deals with grief, secrets, and family issues, and finds love and acceptance where she least expected it.   

Wild Awake is something that is not going to appeal to everyone, but is more of an acquired taste.   I have to say it is really different from anything that I have read, and while I didn't love it, I didn't hate it either.  It just wasn't my cup of tea and I had a really hard time connecting with Kiri.  I have seen mixed reviews, the majority of people either don't like it or they really liked it.  My advice if you decide to read this, is to go into with an open mind and see where it takes you.  You may love, you may not.  

September Girls
by Bennett Madison
Published:  May 21, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Publisher/Edelweiss
Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him. 

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.

My Thoughts:  September Girls is told from Sam's point of view.  He is a 17-year-old boy, and the book covers everything you would expect to go with that - cussing, a lot of it, sex/masturbating, fantasies, talk about women, especially their boobs, real stuff 17 year old boys think about and do for the most part.  He is also dealing with his family falling apart.  When I saw the cover I was expecting romance, love, mermaids, etc.  That isn't what it is about.  I never really got the clear picture on the whole mermaid aspect of the book, which bothered me, and there were aspects about that that were just really strange.  While Sam does have a thing for Dee Dee, it didn't feel or give off a real romance vibe.  The language seems to be one of the factors that most people disliked, but it didn't bother me because I think guys probably really talk like that more than we know, despite what us parents would like to think, and I could have dealt with the sex part if I just could have connected to the story, which I didn't.  I had read the reviews on this book before I started it and tried to go into it with an open mind, knowing that a lot of people didn't like it, keeping in mind the fact that I did read a few positive reviews.  I don't know, while it was not for me, maybe there are some teenage guys out there that would like it.  I've never been one, so it's hard to say.  On a positive note, it does have a really pretty cover.  It is definitely an older YA read.   

The Kissing Booth
by Beth Reekles
Published:  April 25, 2013
Publisher:  Random House Childrens Publishers
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular--and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile--and a total player. And also Elle's best friend's older brother... 

When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer--this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak.

My Thoughts:  The Kissing Booth is a sweet story that would probably appeal more to teens.  Elle runs a kissing booth and gets her first kiss from Noah, her long-time crush, who is not only older, but also her best friend's older brother.  The book is written by a 17-year old, which shows, thus the appeal to younger readers.  Also, it is very obvious that she is British by the dialogue and terminology used.  The story is fun, but also predictable.  You have the hot guy, the girl, first love, first kisses, your typical high school romance, which also touches on issues such as drinking and sex.  The kissing booth concept was cute.  The ending was different than I expected, and I think some people will probably like it, while others won't.  I am definitely impressed that this author was published by a major publisher at 17, and I am interested to see what the future holds for her.  Overall, this YA romance is sweet and is something that will appeal to younger teen readers.    


  1. I received Wild Awake and September Girls from the publisher, and I do want to read them eventually. But I'm I'm no hurry now. The reactions to both books are very strong and diverse. I'm wondering where I'll fall. Your reviews were very helpful, Ellen!

    1. Thanks Andrea. I'll be interested in hearing what you think.

  2. I wasn't able to finish September Girls ..and still need to read wild awake. thanks for the reviews

    1. I pushed through September Girls, but it was hard. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. Now I really want to read The Kissing Booth! It sounds ADORABLE and the perfect summer read.. as for September Girls.. I've heard really weird things about it and based on how you described it.. i really don't want to know how the mind of a perky 17 year old boy works. Wild Awake doesn't sound that appealing to me too though.

    great reviews!
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  4. Oh gosh I don't think Wild Awake or September Girls would be for me. I do have a copy of Kissing Booth and can't wait to read that one. I like light fluff reads once in a while.

    Great honest review Ellen!

  5. Wow I had no idea that the author of The Kissing Booth was only 17!! That's amazing... props to her!! She's like the next Kody Keplinger or something :) Also I thing The September Girls cover is super pretty, but the cover doesn't make it seem like it's a book for boys, which is what it seems like this book should be marketed towards. Most of the women I've seen that have read it were slightly offended by it, so if boys would "get it" better, the cover should say that IMO.

    1. In the reviews I read the women were offended also. I don't know if guys would really like it or not, but it seems they may. I wouldn't have minded too much if I could have connected to the story, but the whole "mermaid" thing was just weird.

  6. They all sound pretty good. Thanks for sharing Ellen!

  7. I was a little curious about Wild Awake, and I might have to give it a try because it does sounds like it is pretty good. September Girl, not so much. But Kissing Booth certainly sounds like my kinda read. Great reviews.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    1. You might enjoy Wild Awake. There have been a lot of mixed reviews about it. The Kissing Booth is cute to.


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