Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie ConnorThe Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on June 24th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.

In a sea of YA that is constantly flooded with absent parents it’s nice to find a novel that is the complete antithesis of this. The Things You Kiss Goodbye has an interesting family dynamic for this genre in that the parents are very present and we see the repercussions a life of strict rules can have on a teenager. It also is much more than just being about a family, it has romance, unhealthy relationships and even forbidden ones. Though I didn’t fall head over heels for this one as I had hoped I would, there was so much that I enjoyed about it and that will have me thinking about this story for a long time to come.

Bettina Vasilis has grown up under strict rules from her “Bampas” (Greek for father.) He is a man who doesn’t like to be inconvenienced and who likes everyday to go according to a set routine. We see right from the very first page that this way of living has set Bettina on a path of sneaking out and doing things on the sly. As someone who reads a lot of YA novels I found it very interesting that the family in this one was portrayed the way that it was. For me, it showed that being strict like that doesn’t always work out the way one would hope it would. If Bettina had more freedom in her life she wouldn’t have felt the need to sneak out her window or lie about where she was going. As a mother it made me think about things because I feel that the way Bettina acted while under the iron rule of her father was very true to how a teenager would act out in the same situation in real life.

Bettina finally found a way to get some freedom in the form of Brady Cullen. She had a crush on him but as soon as she realized that her Bampas approved of this boy she was in it for the long haul. Things started out very sweet between the two of them but they quickly went sour. This relationship went into very unhealthy territory and it was frustrating to see Bettina stay with him. Because of the life that she knew she would have to go back to living if she were to break up with Brady she stayed with him when she definitely should not have. The slow build of the terrible things that happen between these two was well done and even though it frustrated me I understood Bettina’s motivation to stay with Brady. All of this sounds pretty dark and unhappy for Bettina so far but she does find happiness in the form of a chance encounter with an older man she comes to call Cowboy.

Here the story kind of shifts from a tale about toxic relationships to one about forbidden ones. Things with Cowboy grow quite slowly and this is where the novel kind of started to lose my interest. In the middle, as things are growing between Bettina and Cowboy, the pace really slowed down for me. I did like seeing the moments between these two but it kind of just shifted everything. For pretty much all of the middle chunk of the novel it was like Brady was forgotten and there would be moments where Bettina would think of him and confirm they were still together. I think there should have been a better blend of Bettina’s time in the middle here because it came across feeling a little disjointed for me. Things with Cowboy end up taking a very unexpected turn that took me completely by surprise and I think it was a bold choice for Connor to make this decision. But alas, I can’t get into that, you have to just read it for yourself to find out!

The Things You Kiss Goodbye has a lot going for it and it is definitely a memorable read. I loved seeing the Greek culture, the portrayal of family and exploring the relationships along with Bettina. Though it felt a bit disjointed at times I think this one is definitely worth the read.


3.5 Hot Espressos

Review: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Review: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Posted by on 06/16/2014 • 25 Comments

Adorable and very light; a perfect book for reading while I was on the road to BEA. While I had minor problems with this one, it was overall a real heartwarming love story that left me with a smile on my face.

Jamie is gay, and it seems like everyone knows it except his crush, Mason – who also happens to be his best friend. From the beginning, I could tell this was going to be a fun-frustrating kind of read with a lot of longing and a lot of heart. Although it’s not exactly the most unique book out there – it’s a simple angst-filled LGBT story I’ve seen a few times, now – it has a lot to offer with its charismatic characters and the adoption of…

Review: Renegade by Debra Driza

Posted by on 05/02/2014 • 15 Comments

When I finished Mila 2.0 last year I was left quite eager to get my hands on the novel’s sequel. Mila 2.0 was action packed from beginning to end and quite possibly the most fun I had reading a book in 2013. Upon finishing Renegade I am left wondering “what the hell happened?” Where was the action and fun that I loved so dearly in the first book? It must have gotten lost somewhere because this book was a nearly 500 page yawnfest with 3-4 action scenes max.

We catch up with Mila and Hunter in Renegade as they are on the run from both General Holland and the Vita Obscura. Well, Hunter doesn’t know that they are on the run and the first good chunk of the book…

Review: Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Review: Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Posted by on 04/23/2014 • 10 Comments

Upon finishing Life By Committee all I can think of is that I am… indifferent to it. I breezed through the novel and did enjoy reading it, but I failed to connect to it in any way so it was a very passive experience. This is a bit of a disappointment to me because I was such a huge fan of Haydu’s OCD Love Story, but at least I did manage to enjoy the reading a bit.

I think my inability to really connect with the story was mostly due to the fact that I never felt like I got a real understanding for our MC Tabitha. Tabby was a very cold, closed off character. This attitude is really understandable in her story because of what she had been through….

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Posted by on 10/07/2013 • 19 Comments

This is a story about survival in a harsh, harsh world. It’s not an action packed dystopian. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. It’s the journey of a young girl who’s discovering the ugly truths, but also the beautiful roots, of humanity.

Lynn has been raised inside a house with only her mother by her side. She was raised hard, and she was raised cold. Everybody is the enemy. Their pond is their only life source, so they must guard it with their lives. This is a world where drinkable water is extremely rare and not obtained without exhausting effort. Lynn and her mother have been living a hard, merciless life. I could immediately feel the weight they held on their shoulders. The hard edges they had to build…

Thornhill Tour Stop: Review + Guest Post

Thornhill Tour Stop: Review + Guest Post

Posted by on 09/11/2013 • 15 Comments

I’ve got a great guest on the blog today, lovelies! Kathleen Peacock is here today as part of the Thornhill blog tour to talk to us about Werewolves vs Vampires in the most hilarious – and realistic – way! First let’s have a look at what I thought of this gorgeous sequel!

The long anticipated sequel to Hemlock arriving at my door was no doubt the highlight of my week. I greedily tore into it a few days later, bringing me back into the turbulent lives of Mac, Kyle, and Jason. As usual with sequels, I think I would have loved it more had there not been such a large gap of time between reading this book and its predecessor. Things did eventually…

Review: Rush by Eve Silver

Review: Rush by Eve Silver

Posted by on 05/20/2013 • 35 Comments

Every single thing about this book annoyed me. It’s not a terrible book in theory: the premise is interesting and it has a strong heroine, but its execution left me so incredibly irritated.

Rush starts with a bang when we’re immediately lifted into a whirlwind of a plot, one that screams originality and awesomeness up ahead. It was for sure original; awesome, however, it is not. Let’s begin with Jackson, and how his character was used in this book. When Miki is pulled into this strange “game” where she’s told she’s on a mission to rid the earth of aliens before humanity is extinct, Jackson acts as their leader of sorts. It’s obvious that he knows everything we want to know, but all he does is dangle it in front…