Flat-Out Love

Flat-Out Love by Jessica ParkFlat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 400
My copy: ebook review copy from the author

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

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.

* * *

Flat-Out Love surprised me last year because it just started popping up on friends’ blogs and Goodreads profile around the same time. It took me a while to get myself a copy (because I was hoping someone would buy me the ebook for Christmas, LOL) and I finally took the initiative to request for a copy when people started putting this book in their Best of 2011 lists. What is up with this book that everyone seemed to love it?

Julie Seagle is excited for college, but her excitement was dampened because of a little housing hijinks. But the Watkins came to the rescue after her mom calls her old friend and soon, Julie moves in with them, up until she finds a new place to live. The Watkins family seem like any other normal family in Boston, except for the presence of Flat Finn, the cardboard cutout version of the eldest son who said to be traveling all over the world. But there seem to be something off everywhere, and Julie being the fixer that she is, wants to find out what. And if it includes falling in love with the real 3-dimensional Finn who’s currently traipsing all over the world…then why not, right?

So, I was surprised by Flat-Out Love. Yes, even as I was reading it, it kept on surprising me. It was a bit longer than I expected, but it was hardly boring. The characters felt real and their banter genuine. Julie was very easy to relate to, and like her, I loved and enjoyed my college years. Reading the book made me miss my own college years — choosing classes, meeting new people, studying for class and writing papers. Julie’s relationships with the rest of the Watkins family was so fun to read, especially her friendship with Matt and Celeste. Celeste was an odd girl but I thought she was a darling. Matt was your typical geek, but it wasn’t the only reason why I liked his character. Like Julie, he has a very distinct voice and character, and yes his defining moment in the book made me shed some tears, too.

The secret wasn’t really hard to guess. I already had a guess about it early on, and I was wondering if my hunch was wrong. I wasn’t. I’m sure other people would also be able to guess, but don’t stop reading there. It’s so easy to get invested in everyone in the story and I wanted to know what exactly happened, why the secret was such. That, and because I really like everyone already, I just really wanted everything to work out for everyone. It’s like I’ve become friends with all of them and with good friends, you just want the good for them.

And since there’s love on the title…how about the romance? Well, the previous ravers reviewers of Flat-Out Love were right to rave about it. The fun conversations, the “moments”, the slow and steady and delicious burn…awesome. It had all the good romances in it — even the ones that didn’t work out. Reconciling everything after all has been undone1 was kind of a challenge, and I couldn’t really wrap my head around it for a bit. Still, it doesn’t make the novel less enjoyable. I had a big smile on my face when I got to the last page. I meant what I said on Twitter when I finished this novel: What a deliciously satisfying read. ♥

Oh and did I tell you this book is indie? :)

Rating:

Required Reading 2012: January

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Janicu’s Book Blog

More information: Flat-Out Love website / author blog

  1. I apologize for the vagueness, if I say anything more it would be spoilery. But those who’ve read this would understand :D []

Required Reading: January

So yay, it’s the new year! January is one of my favorite months of the year, mostly because of the newness and all the possibilities of a new year. Especially in reading — don’t you like it when you see your read shelf for the year still zero and you wonder up to what number you can get to by December 31 this year? :) I know I do.

And because I had so much fun with this last year (and it really helped me knock off books from my TBR), I am going to have a go at this again. Hello Required Reading 2012! :)

Required Reading is a reading challenge that is really about getting some books off the Mt. TBR. Just as the name of the challenge meant, Required Reading is about choosing some books that must be read within the month. It doesn’t have to be the only books you read in a month, but they should be read (or at least, started) before the said month ends.

I had some rules on this last year that really applied to me, but in case other people want to join me, here are the rules:

  • Books chosen for the challenge should be in the current TBR pile as of the month of the Required Reading post. So if you decided to join at March, the books you choose for the month should be in your TBR pile as of February.
  • Galleys and ARCs can be included.
  • Posting reviews aren’t necessary (but don’t you want that out of the way, too?).
  • I’ll be posting a theme every month but you don’t have to follow that. You can choose a theme for yourself if you want to — what’s important is the books that you put there are books that you want to get to reading.
  • And since this is a TBR reducing challenge, it would be very ideal if the books you choose aren’t a part of any other challenge. Just so you can read more. But seeing as I bent this rule so many times last year, you can bend it too. :)
  • Lastly: have fun. If you don’t finish a book, it’s okay! If you finish it, then…feel free to reward yourself with something. :)

I’ll be posting a linky every month of a Required Reading post so you can leave a link to your Required Reading post there. (Not that there’s a lot of people who joined this last year…but you never know :D)

Now we are on for January. :)

Required Reading 2012: January

I love the end and the start of the year because there are so many books that I end up putting on my wish list after everyone starts making their best-of lists. Of course, that doesn’t really bode well for my book budget. :P It also makes me feel like I should READ. ALL. BOOKS., at least the ones they listed as very good that are in my TBR.

So for January, my required reading list will contain the books that I noticed were in a lot of best-of-2011 book lists among my blogger friends. Let’s call this Best-Of Catch Up. :)

  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington – “Saving June has everything that I look for in my contemporary reads…” (Chachic’s Book Nook)
  • Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park – “Loved it. You know those books where you’re excited to tell the world about? I think this is one of them.  The more I think about Flat-Out Love the more I feel this “I need to pimp this book” feeling.” (Janicu’s Book Blog)
  • How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr – “From the assured writing to the authentic characters, How To Save A Life is a book that will both pluck at your heart strings and make you grin to lasting effect.” (Book Harbinger)

Oh look, all of them are contemporary books! Since I know I will probably end up going through these in a flash, I am adding two more books to the list:

So…that’s a sizable book list, don’t you think? I’ve started on one and already more than halfway on another, so at least I’ve started. :)


All I Want for Christmas 2011 Is… (Book Edition)

Ohai?

November is halfway done, which means that December is just around the corner, which also means that Christmas is just around the corner! And in the spirit of gift-giving and all that (and to help my friends in picking out presents for me, y’know, in case they want to :P) here’s my wish list for 2011! :)

BOOK-RELATED STUFF (also known as possibly expensive book-related gifts):

  • Still waiting for that book seal. My brother was supposed to give me one, but I have to confirm. :P
  • Kindle Touch. I mean, come on, you know you want one too (also, I can dream. haha).

BOOKS:

  1. Pysch Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
  2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  3. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen  Thanks, Monique!
  4. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen Thanks Angus!
  5. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
  6. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
  7. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  8. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  9. Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park (I don’t mind the ebook version!)
  10. Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver (UK edition, please?)
  11. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
  12. The Boy Book (Ruby Oliver # 2) by E. Lockhart (and the rest of the Ruby Oliver books) Thanks, Tricia! :)
  13. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
  14. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway
  15. Nightspell by Leah Cypess
  16. Amplified by Tara Kelly
  17. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  18. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I don’t really have much of a preference between books and ebooks but for books with illustrations (particularly #2, 9 and 10), I would want them in print. Because that’s really one of the things you’d pay for in print. :)

I’m also all for recommendations — if you think I’ll like the book, then I would gladly accept. it. :D

But if you’d rather be different, and decide to give me something non-book related…well:

  • Anything with sunflowers and/or stars
  • Gift certificates — not just bookstores, but other places too: Starbucks, Dashing Diva, CBTL, etc.
  • Pretty pens and notebooks :)

I’m pretty easy to please, so even a Christmas card would do, actually. Snail mail makes me happy too. :D

I’m also posting this because I joined this year’s Book Blogger Holiday Swap again. :) It’s so fun sending and receiving packages during the holiday season that even if I am a little tight on the budget this year, I didn’t mind signing up. Unfortunately, sign ups for this swap is already closed, but there are other book swaps, too, like the Book Geeks Book Exchange. :) Come join the book exchanging holiday fun!