YA Wednesdays Book Blitz: Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny

Book blitz banner for Kissing Frogs by April Sevigny

Welcome to this week’s Swoon Romance YA Wednesday! This week features Kissing Frogs by April Sevigny. Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

About Kissing Frogs

Book cover for Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny

Popular party girl and high school senior Jessica Scott has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a big one; a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ. But she lost the braces, put on some contacts, and applied all her academic genius to studying and imitating the social elite. Now she rules the school from the upper echelon of the high school realm. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for Spring Break. That is, until her teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing Biology — and her only chance to make up the grade is to throw away the culminating trip of her hard-earned popularity and join the Conservation Club in Panama to save the Golden Frog.

Unable to let go of her faded college dreams, Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, and one handsome face that stands out as a blast from the past, threatening to ruin her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving Jess’ lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three dates. While Jess does battle with spiders, snakes, wildfires and smart mean girls, she desperately tries to hang on to the last vestiges of her popular existence like the Golden Frog from its webbed toe. But as she starts to care about something more than tanning and texting – a species on the verge of disappearing forever – she may realize the worth of her inner nerd, and the one frog in particular that could be her prince in disguise.

Set in the lush and tropical El Valle de Anton, this modern fairytale re-imagining of “The Frog Prince” is toe-curling contemporary romance with an environmentalist heartbeat, in the tradition of Stephanie Perkins.

Review

Four-star rating
A free copy of this book was provided by Month9Books and Swoon Romance in exchange for an honest review.

Kissing Frogs is like a pina colada on a hot summer day – light, fun, and refreshing. It’s the story of Jess Scott, a nerd-turned-member-of-the-high-school-elite who finds herself sentenced to a Spring Break field trip saving frogs in a foreign country. While all of her friends are getting drunk and tan on a beach in Florida, Jess is spending her time cleaning out aquariums, taking nature walks, and writing a research paper in Panama.

If you’re thinking that a trip to sunny Panama doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a school break, you’re right. In between learning about the endangered species the Conservation Club has been sent to help, Jess and the rest of the kids get to hit the beach, go horseback riding, shop at local markets, and more. It’s actually a pretty cool “punishment,” and it’s not long before Jess begins to realize that the opportunity is one she should take advantage of.

This is one of the great things about Kissing Frogs – the protagonist is smart enough to know a good thing when she sees it. Although she’s upset about missing out on a vacation with her friends, is wary of touching frogs, and initially doesn’t recognize the importance of conversation, Jess tries to make the best of her situation. She’s a smart girl and an overall good person. It’s a nice change from the books where popular characters are either stuck-up, ditzy, or bitchy.

There are a few ways in which Jess is a little cliché – she’s got dyed platinum blond hair, lets her popular boyfriend walk all over her, and is addicted to her phone and makeup – but these things are pretty minor compared to her good qualities. Jess has a great sense of humor, makes an effort to make friends on her trip, and embraces the chance to learn new things.

It’s great watching Jess’ transformation throughout the book. As I already stated, she isn’t a bad person at the beginning of the novel, just a person with a limited view. The trip broadens her awareness of the world and wakes her up to a host of environmental issues. It was so pleasing to see her ditch her apathy and begin to take an active role in making the world a better place.

The conservation theme really differentiates Kissing Frogs from all the other cute, bubbly romances out there. I have to give Alisha Sevigny credit for raising awareness about the plight of endangered species in general and Panama’s Golden Frog in particular. She made me care about the animals and want to make a difference without ever making me feel pressured or guilty.

So far I haven’t mentioned much about the romance in this book. As the synopsis mentions, the love story is loosely based on the fairy tale The Frog Prince, and it’s everything I could have hoped for: sweet, natural, and lighthearted, with little to no drama. Some parts are fairly predictable – for example, there are a couple of occasions when Jess trips and literally falls into Travis’s arms – but the book is so adorable and fun that the predictable parts don’t really matter.

If you’re already planning your summer vacation and are looking for a book to take along to the beach, you can’t go wrong with Kissing Frogs. You’ll smile, you’ll laugh, and you’ll certainly want to save some endangered species.

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About Alisha Sevigny

Author photo for April SevignyAlisha Sevigny holds a degree in Sociology and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent and current Social Media and Communications Director for an award-winning English school. A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a recent trip to Panama with their new daughter, Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog. She was inspired to write her first Young Adult novel, Kissing Frogs. Born and raised in Kitimat, British Columbia, Alisha has always had a strong connection to the environment and conservationist spirit. She now lives in Toronto with her family.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway

Swoon Romance is sponsoring a great giveaway: one reader will win two previously published Swoon Romance e-books of their choice! To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter below. The contest is open internationally. A winner will be selected on April 8, 2015.

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Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss Book Cover Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Review:

I finally get why Anna and the French Kiss keeps popping up on so many Top Ten Tuesday lists – it’s wonderful! I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to all of the hype, but it really is a great book. I stayed up until midnight last night to finish it, and despite being exhausted this morning I still have a smile on my face from the experience.

One of my main reasons for liking Anna and the French Kiss is Anna herself. She feels like a kindred spirit, someone I can relate to and understand. It was such a relief to read about a person whose reactions to the events of her life are so similar to what my own would be under the same circumstances. For example, I’m a very nervous traveler. As much as I like the idea of seeing the world, the reality is that learning a new culture and being far from my family scares me to death. This is the case for Anna as well. When her parents send her overseas to spend a year in a French boarding school, she’s terrified. She sobs in her room after arriving at the school, only leaves the campus under duress, and feels overwhelmed and out of place. This is exactly how I would’ve reacted, and it was nice to see a protagonist deal with the same worries and anxieties and be able to overcome them.

Anna is a likable character, with fascinating interests and great drive and dedication. I enjoyed watching her grow over the course of the book. Her transformation from a scared, anxious, overwhelmed girl who didn’t want to go out of her comfort zone to someone brave and willing to try new things is a natural and believable one.

I also like that although Anna is spunky and smart and fun, she has negative qualities as well. She does a lot of crying, overreacts at times, has the occasional angry outburst, and lashes out and says things she doesn’t mean when hurt or upset. You’d think this would make her less likable, but the opposite is actually true. It makes her more interesting than if she were Little Miss Perfect, and it made me as a reader feel camaraderie with her.

Likewise, Anna’s love interest, the wonderful American/British/French Etienne St. Clair, is the perfect mix of delightful and real. He’s charming and quirky and cute, with a sexy British accent and a fascination with history and random trivia. He’s also on the shorter side, though he carries himself with enough swagger and confidence, and exudes such an air of charisma and magnetism, that he seems taller. He’s horrifically afraid of heights, can be mopey and unwittingly hurtful/unfair, and at one point in the book gets so intoxicated he throws up on Anna. All of these flaws are actually part of St. Clair’s appeal. He’s fun and interesting, unique among other male characters I’ve read about. He’s not some impossibly perfect boy toy but instead is the type of guy you could conceivably meet in the real world

The romance between Anna and St. Clair is lovely, although it’s quite exasperating that they have so many misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and instances of poor timing to contend with. Their relationship, which starts as a friendship and grows into something more, is the type that warms you from the inside out. I loved how they are always there for one another and how they always try to do what is best for each other even at the expense of their own happiness.

That’s not to say that they always act selflessly. St. Clair especially is a bit unfair in some of his actions. Again, though, their weaknesses made for a more believable, meaningful relationship once they finally got their problems straightened out.