2013 #Review Recap – The Flat-Out books, by @JessicaPark24

2013 Recap

Earlier in this 2013 Recap, I reposted my review of Left Drowning from Jessica Park. Today, I’m bringing back my reviews of the first two of Park’s books I read. Flat-Out Love was a book that really stood out from the rest of the pack, for me, this year. The story was great, the characters memorable, and even though it’s an NA romance…it wasn’t all the book had going for it. Honestly, there’s so much more to it than the underlying romance. I think that’s what helped me enjoy it as much as I did. I was able to focus on the other great elements that made up the book.

Soon after I finished FOL, Park released Flat-Out Matt. It’s a companion to FOL and actually made me appreciate FOL more than before I’d read FOM. This one’s a collection of selected chapters from FOL, but they’re told from Matt’s point of view. It provided me with a different perspective to the events we only saw from Julie’s POV before. Just remember, if you’re checking these two books out to read, be sure to read FOL first. Reading FOM first will 1) ruin FOL for you, and 2) Probably not be very enjoyable since jumps through FOL without the flow a full book would give…hence my use of the word “companion” before.

Reading these two books, and a few months later reading Left Drowning, showed me the diversity Jessica Park can bring to her writing all while never failing to bring well-written books to her fans. I also read her three short non-fiction books which show a more personal side of her and are hilarious.

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Flat-Out Love

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Title: Flat-Out Love91jqMulcm9L._SL1500_
Author: Jessica Park
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“He was tall, at least six feet, with dirty blond hair that hung over his eyes. His T-shirt read Nietzsche Is My Homeboy.

So, that was Matt.  Who Julie Seagle likes. A lot.  But there is also Finn.  Who she flat out loves.

Complicated? Awkward?  Completely.

But really, how was this freshly-minted Boston transplant and newbie college freshman supposed to know that she would end up living with the family of an old friend of her mother’s? This was all supposed to be temporary.  Julie wasn’t supposed to be important to the Watkins family, or to fall in love with one of the brothers.  Especially the one she’s never quite met. But what does that really matter?  Finn gets her, like no one ever has before. They have connection.

But here’s the thing about love, in all its twisty, bumpy permutations—it always throws you a few curves.  And no one ever escapes unscathed.” (description from Goodreads)

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Flat-Out Love was a great book for me to have picked up. It was hard to put down and very easy to get back into a steady reading pace the few times I had to put it down.

This story really stood out to me as an original and enjoyable read the whole way through. While I was able to make strong assumptions of the outcome, early in the novel, it was the journey to the actual reveal and confirming/disproving my assumptions that might have been the best part. It was less of “wow, I figured this book out. I don’t want to read it now” and much more “Could this really be the situation? I NEED to know. It’d be great if this was what’s going on.” I was impressed by just how much thought had to go into making this story work with the complicated back-story, the unique and dysfunctional Watkins family, and coming-of-age growth that Julie’s character went through.

The characters definitely made for an enjoyable read. My favorite of the book is probably Celeste. She has her issues and definitely adds some awkwardness to situations, but her intelligence and dialogue are what really make her a favorite of mine. Like the rest of the family, she’s smart, but she’s also funny in her own way. Also, even though she’s only in her early teens, she shows maturity well beyond her age. Definitely wouldn’t have been as great of a book without her. There wouldn’t have been a reason to read about Flat Finn without Celeste either. And he’s a very unique character as well. Despite his “flat” name, Flat Finn is very dynamic…but I’ll let the readers fin the pun in that themselves.

Bottom-line: Flat-Out Love is a great book to pick up. I can see what so many people have enjoyed about it, and I am looking forward to experiencing more of Park’s writing.

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You can grab a copy of Flat-Out Love from:

Amazon

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Flat-Out Matt

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Title: Flat-Out MattFlat- Out Matt
Author: Jessica Park
Rating: 5/5 Stars

“Matt is a junior at MIT. He’s geeky, he’s witty, he’s brilliant.

And he’s also very, very stupid.

When beautiful, cool, insightful Julie moves in with Matt’s family, why (oh why!) does he pretend to be his absent brother Finn for her alleged benefit?

It seems harmless enough until her short-term stay becomes permanent. And until it snowballs into heart-squeezing insanity. And until he falls in love with Julie, and Julie falls in love with Finn.

But … Matt is the right one for her. If only he can make Julie see it. Without telling her the truth, without shattering them all. Particularly his fragile sister Celeste, who may need Julie the most.

You saw Matt through Julie’s eyes in FLAT-OUT LOVE. Now go deeper into Matt’s world in this FLAT-OUT MATT novella. Live his side of the story, break when his heart breaks, and fall for the unlikely hero all over again.

Take an emotional skydive for two prequel chapters and seven Flat-Out Love chapters retold from his perspective, and then land with a brand-new steamy finale chapter from Julie.” (description from Goodreads)

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I recently read and greatly enjoyed Jessica Park’s book Flat-Out Love. I start by saying this only because Flat-Out Matt MUST…I repeat MUST…be read AFTER reading Flat-Out Love. This was a great companion book to Flat-Out Love, and I’m glad I was able to read both so close together. Also, please let me note that I do my best to not spoil any of Flat-Out Love, but it might not be totally avoidable. Read with caution.

This book was an essential addition to my enjoyment of FOL. While I enjoyed a majority of that book, the chapters in Flat-Out Matt that were told in Matt’s POV enhanced my understanding of the romance in the story. I feel that seeing the same events but from another character’s view gave new insight into things. It’s also a great story to see various side from due to the nature of things.

What was also a great part of FOM was the prequel chapters and the chapters near the end. From these chapters and the rest of the ones included in this book, I grew to admire Matt more than from FOL alone. I also think that having only a select few chapters “re-told,” instead of the entire book, was a great choice by the author. It gives just enough of what a reader might want to relive but doesn’t provide too much which could kill the enjoyment of reading something “again.

I’m not normally a reader who’d want to read a story from a different character’s point of view. For the most part, I feel that a story is told from one POV (if it’s a one POV type of book) for a reason and shouldn’t be touched, but I’m glad I picked this one up. Flat-Out Love is still in my mind even a week after finishing it. It’s story will stick with me for quite a while. Now that I’ve finished Flat-Out Matt, I feel that there’s even more to enjoy about the story/stories. Park’s book(s) will definitely be in the running for favorite books of 2013 when the time comes.

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You can purchase a copy of Flat-Out Matt from:

Amazon

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About the Author:

Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novels FLAT-OUT LOVE and RELATIVELY FAMOUS; five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park); and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2).

Jessica grew up in the Boston area and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After spending four years in the frigid north, including suffering through one memorable Halloween blizzard, Jessica hightailed it back to the east coast. She now lives in (relatively balmy) New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, Jessica indulges her healthy addictions to Facebook, Rick Springfield, and super-sweet coffee beverages.

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