Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Title: Fool Me Twice
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Series: If Only, book #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they're back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.

Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It's the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.

The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can't have, and Mandy Hubbard's hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love.


I was quite intrigued by the premise of this book when I first saw it pop up on Goodreads. I mean, who among us hasn't wanted to get revenge on an ex after a really nasty break-up? But despite the manipulation aspects, this book turned out to be cute and kind of fluffy, if not a bit juvenile at times.

On top of Mack's plan to make Landon fall hard for her and then unceremoniously dump him in much the same way he dumped her a year ago, Mack is full of pranks she's dying to play on him. They ranged from the mundane to cheesy, but it was kind of gratifying to see Landon take it all in stride and retaliate with pranks of his own. I had a hard time reconciling the Landon we meet at the very beginning of the book with the one that appears after the "accident". Even after the whole story is revealed -- and I totally saw it coming -- it felt like he was two different people: the jerk who doesn't even officially break up with a girl before kissing another and the sweet cowboy who goes above and beyond on the ranch.

Mack's character didn't feel all that authentic, either. Her new sense of style -- self-imposed after the break-up -- feels forced, as if she can't own it herself but only owes it to Landon dumping her. I did appreciate, though, that she realized that the Mack she had shown Landon the previous summer was just the girl she thought he wanted to see, that only this summer has she deigned to show him her true self. And it was nice that he seemed even more attracted to the real Mack.

The romance was kind of adorable at times. And though I at first suspected Adam's character was included only to involve a love triangle in the story, my doubts were slowly assuaged as it became evident that Mack's best friend Bailey was interested in him. Mack only has eyes for one guy, and it's the one she should be staying clear of.

This is my first Mandy Hubbard book, so I'm not sure if her other stories are as lighthearted and fun as this one, but I'm definitely interested in checking them out now. Even if Fool Me Twice wasn't serious or deep, it was still pretty entertaining, and I can't fault it for that.

GIF it to me straight:
Cute and distracting, but not terribly deep.


About the author:

Mandy Hubbard is the author of PRADA & PREJUDICE and YOU WISH, both novels for teens now in stores. In 2011, her releases include BUT I LOVE HIM (written as Amanda Grace) and RIPPLE. She is also a literary agent for D4EO Literary Agency. For more information, visit her website.

Find Mandy:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads



Title: Wish You Were Italian
Author: Kristin Rae
Series: If Only, book #2
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

The perfect reckless romance to enjoy whether you are home or abroad.


This adorable little romp in Italy is exactly what I needed after the more serious and fantastical fare I've been reading lately. Whenever I need a good palate-cleanser, I turn to fluffier YA contemporary novels, and sometimes I hit the jackpot and end up reading really endearing stories like this one. I enjoyed this one so much that it made me not want to cross back over to the dark side of YA fantasy, so as soon as I was done with Wish You Were Italian, I immediately picked up the other book in the IF ONLY series. (See review above.)

I was pretty impressed with the story and the writing in this book, especially considering that this is Kristin Rae's debut novel. (That's not to say that I haven't loved debut novels before, but they're not usually contemporary stories if I did.) This novel is so charming, so delightful, and I just didn't want Pippa's adventures abroad to end. Even though I've never traveled to Italy, Rae's beautiful descriptions of the country, the monuments, and the people instantly transported me there, as if I were seeing everything through Pippa's eyes for the first time. And the way she captured the moments that were truly important to Pippa...I wanted to be there experiencing them with her. Italy essentially became a character in its own right, thanks to the gorgeous imagery in Rae's writing.

Pippa is going to be in SO much trouble when she gets home. But for now, she's having the time of her life, gallivanting across Italy's countryside, seeing all the sights and sounds she would've missed had she stuck to her mother's original plan. Pippa is really going against the grain with her little excursion, but it's easy to see why this little escape was so necessary for her, considering the strained relationship she has with her parents, most especially her mother. But she keeps in touch with her best friend Morgan and her Gram, and though it's risky being on your own in a foreign country, I commend her bravery because I'm not sure it's something I could've done myself at that age. Though, looking back, I wish I'd had an opportunity like this...I don't think I could have let it pass me by either.

Besides, Pippa makes friends with a local girl who changes the whole course of her summer, and she also has that homework assignment Morgan gave her to keep her busy. Plus, Pippa met someone her very first day in Italy. Okay, she actually meets TWO someones. Darren is an archaeology student working on digs across Italy, and "by chance", he and Pippa keep running into each other. Their little tête-à-têtes are always unbelievably cute, but it's kind of obvious that both struggle with starting something they can't finish once summer is over, despite how in-tune with each other they might be. Also, Darren also suspects something might be going on with the brother of the girl Pippa is staying with...and with good reason.

I don't worry about love triangles as much as some, and this one really didn't bother me because Pippa has a good head on her shoulders and realizes the likelihood of anything lasting with either guy is slim. Still, one of her "goals" thanks to Morgan's homework assignments is to fall in love with an Italian guy, so I don't discredit her for trying to determine if there was something between her and Bruno. It's the summer before her senior year, after all, and she does figure things out for herself before they get too complicated and someone gets hurt.

That's another thing. I really liked how everyone actually communicated in this story. That's one of my biggest pet peeves in a story: when there's so much unnecessary drama because no one a) talks to each other, b) asks one another the right questions, or c) admits what they're feeling. And though there are plenty of misunderstandings and wrinkles along the way in this story, they manage to get ironed out pretty quickly, with little suffering on anyone's part.

I really enjoyed this debut from Kristin Rae, and it makes me curious to see what other stories she's working on if she can craft such a fun, fanciful read with so many positive elements. There may not be a perfect summer read for everyone, but this one comes pretty darn close. Also, it made me buy gelato, which is never a bad idea. =)

GIF it to me straight:
Awwwww's all around.


About the author:

Lover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. YA writer represented by Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN comes out May 6, 2014 from Bloomsbury!

Find Kristin:

WebsiteTwitter | FacebookGoodreads | Etsy


13 comments:

  1. These look REALLY cute! I so badly want to read Wish You Were Italian, it looks amazing! Great review! :)

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    Replies
    1. They are both absolutely adorable, but I definitely enjoyed Wish You Were Italian more. Hope you enjoy!

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  2. awwwe, this is unfortunate. The first one looked not as good, so I didn't request it. I was not aware that it was even a first one. I need to get better at checking these things. Can Wish You Were Italian be read without the other? It appears that it can me, since it's not even written by the same author. Hmmmmm. :)

    well, I'm glad the one I did get is the one that got 5 stars from you! lol

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    1. Oh, yeah, totally...they're not even companion novels, totally different characters and all that. I actually read Wish You Were Italian first, lol. They're both in a new series from Bloomsbury featuring girls who want what they can't have, but they're both completely separate stories.

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  3. I'm so excited to read these. I have them both coming up for review soon. :) Especially Wish You Were Italian. Sounds so fun!!!

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    1. Wish You Were Italian was ridiculously fun! Just from the sounds of both books, I knew I'd like it better, but gah! It was so darn cute! =)

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  4. These books looks adorableeee! I really like the covers! I'm hoping to read these very soon!

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    1. I really like the covers, too...simple but fun. I hope you get to read them soon, too!

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  5. I'm glad you reviewed both of these b/c I have them and was curious. The first one sounds like one I'll probably skip. Revenge plots aren't really my thing and I'm a little put off by all the personality shifts. I love italy and books set there, but I have a feeling that the triangle in the second one would bug me way more than it did you. Though I'm happy that these characters actually communicate. That's a huge deal for me as well. Great reviews!

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