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
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.
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.
About Alisha Sevigny
Alisha 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.
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.