Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Because I tend to get over-zealous with my audiobook listening and neglect to write thoughtful reviews for every single one I've completed, here are a few mini reviews to catch you up on what I've been listening to lately.

So, I listened to these in the wrong order.  Not that it matters since they're not a series or even companion novels, but I usually prefer to read books in the order published, just to see how the author's writing has progressed and such.  Oh, well...

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Title: Shut Out
Author: Kody Keplinger
Narrator: Kate Reinders
Series: n/a
Length:  7 hrs 19 mins
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: September 5, 2011
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon - $2.99 for Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...

I didn't give this book a chance earlier because of that cover.  Had I read the synopsis before making that judgment, I might have known that it was not simply a sports book -- as in, the main focus is not primarily sports, not that that's a bad thing.  I like sports-centric books, but I have to be in the mood for them.  But when I read that there was a hot library make-out scene, well, I had to give this novel the benefit of the doubt.

Shut Out was surprisingly cute.  The steamy library scene was hot, but I was hoping for a bit, toppling stacks of books or knocking over bookshelves, all in the name of love.  Still, the romance was solid enough, even if Lissa did end up single for most of the novel.*

Lissa was sweet at first, but then she turned annoying when she made the strike personal and I had to take away serious points from her character.  Her immaturity led to a lot of misunderstandings, and the lack of conversations about feelings and what-not drove me bonkers.  I'm pretty up-front when it comes to that stuff, and I have been pretty much all my life, despite being uber-shy in high school.  So, it really bothers me when I read about characters who tend to complicate matters by hemming and hawing around the situation instead of simply expressing their feelings.  Love is a risk, a gamble, but it's worth it when it's right.

Okay, now that that's been said, I really liked this audiobook.  Great narrator, funny story, swoony love interest...all ingredients for a great listen.  AND this one made me want to check out more from the author, so as soon as I finished it, I immediately picked up the audio for The DUFF.

*Let it be known that Randy is a total douche-nozzle.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png 

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Title: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Author: Kody Keplinger
Narrator: Ellen Grafton
Series: n/a
Length:  7 hrs 34 mins
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

So, if you agree that Shut Out wasn't as steamy as you were hoping for -- or as you'd been led to believe -- then you'll definitely like The DUFF.  I knew from the second Wesley Rush hit the stage that Bianca was in over her head...and so was I.  While it's true that you can't -- and shouldn't try to -- change a guy, there are some who want to change, assuming the right person comes along.  ;0)

The narrator for this audiobook grated on my nerves at first.  She emphasized things in a weird way, and she sounded like she had a bubble caught in her throat.  But after awhile, her exuberance kind of grew on me.  It wasn't long before I could totally envision her as The DUFF.

This was Kody Keplinger's debut novel, but I noticed several similarities to Shut Out:  an absentee mother, Hamilton High (though none of the characters from either book appear in both from what I remember), an obsessive compulsive main character, and an affinity for the movie Atonement.  Nothing too just made me wish I'd read this novel first.  *repeats* But the stories are completely different, so it doesn't matter.

I liked that these characters had somewhat depressing back stories, driving them both to look for a distraction.  And I'm glad the distraction they found was each other.  Their banter was funny, their sexy rendezvous were hot, and when they actually conversed like two normal people, it was sweet.  I'm not condoning a friends-with-benefits type relationship for young adults, but it was definitely entertaining.  And hot.  =)

Rating:   photo 4-1.png

About the author:

Kody Keplinger was born and raised in rural western Kentucky. She always enjoyed writing and began working on "novels" when she was eleven. She wrote her first published work, THE DUFF, during her senior year of high school. Since then, Kody has written two other novels, SHUT OUT and A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE.

Kody currently lives in NYC and writes full time. She enjoys Thai food, Converse tennis shoes, and way too much television.

Kodya writes for YA Highway, a blog devoted to the young adult publishing industry. She is also a featured writer for, a popular pop culture blog, where she reviews TV shows and movies.

Find Kody:

Website | BlogTwitter | TumblrGoodreads 

I know I rated them both 4 stars, but I actually preferred The DUFF.  I was rounding up with Shut Out, but no rounding was necessary with The DUFF.  Kody Keplinger is definitely an author to watch.  And now that I've read her first two books, it's about time I make room on my schedule for A Midsummer's Nightmare, which has been sitting unread on my shelf for ages.  :(


  1. Steamy library scene? Surprisingly cute? :D

    I haven't ever looked at KK's books for some reason, but I may have to reconsider after reading these mini reviews. I think it's interesting that you read stuff in pub order whenever possible, too-I'm too much of a mood reader to do that.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  2. The Duff was my favorite of her books too followed by A Midsummer's Nightmare then Shut Out. But I really enjoyed all of them and how they deal with a lot of issues and sex in an open and honest way. Their very entertaining too with great love interests!

  3. I've heard good things about this author and I want to read her books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these two.

  4. I've had The Duff in my to-read list for so long that now I just HAVE to read it. I'm going to check it out from the library today! Thanks for these reviews.

    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

  5. Douche-nozzle? HAHA. Brilliant.

    I really like the look of The Duff - I've been checking it out for a while, so now might be the time to just buy it already :D

    - Allie @ Little Birdie Books


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