Review of Artificial Sweethearts

 

Artificial Sweethearts

by Julie Hammerle

July 10, 2017

Entangled Crush


Blurb from Goodreads: It’s not chemistry between Tinka Foster and Sam Anderson that made them agree to fake date. With her parents trying to set her up with an annoying student golf coach, and intentionally single Sam’s family pressuring him to bring a date to his brother’s wedding, they could both use a drama-free summer.

So it’s not his muscular arms and quick wit that makes Tinka suggest they tell everyone they’re both taken. Definitely not. And it’s not butterflies that makes a kiss for appearances during the lake party go on way too long—so long that Sam wishes it were real.

Continue reading

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Entangled Teen Week Wrap Up!

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Thanks for joining me for Entangled Teen Week! And thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing me with the opportunity to review these four entertaining novels and thanks to the authors for being a part of my Microcosm this week! It’s been a great experience. Look for these incredible books in the next few weeks.

If you missed any part of this week, the recap is below.

Any Boy But You by Julie Hammerle

There’s Something About Nik by Sara Hantz

Now on Sale!  Amazon

Read my review here.

See Julie’s guest post here.

On Sale February 13, 2017; Pre-order from Amazon.

Read my review here.

See Sara’s guest post here.

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

Redux by A.L. Davroe

On sale March 7, 2017; Pre-order from Amazon.

Read my review here.

See Casey’s guest post here.

On Sale March 21, 2017; Pre-order from Amazon.

Read my review here.

See A.L.’s interview and excerpt from Redux here.

Guest Post by Author Julie Hammerle!

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Welcome, Julie Hammerle!

Julie Hammerle is the author of  The Sound of Us, which I reviewed in June of last year.  On February 13, her new novel, Any Boy But You, (reviewed yesterday) is being published and it’s part of a series, North Pole, Minnesota.


Book One vs. Book Two

The timeline for how long it took me to write and then publish my first novel, The Sound of Us, revolves around my niece.

I first had the idea for the book (which ended up being WAAAAY different than the finished product) right around the time when she was born.

I pantsed that sucker during the first month of her life. I bought one of those “Write a Novel in 30 Days” type books and never looked back. Or forward. I just wrote words. Lots and lots of words. Garbage words, most of them.

Over the next, oh, four years I entered a cycle of revise, query, repeat. I wrote other things during this time (important!), but I always went back to The Sound of Us (which was not called The Sound of Us at the time).

Finally! Finally! After years of trying to find an agent, I connected with Beth Phelan of The Bent Agency, who saw good things in my manuscript.

Aaaaannnnddd…I spent the next six months revising the story with her before going out on submission. Then we revised again. And went on submission again.

After over a year of that, Kate Brauning of Entangled Publishing bought the book. And we spent the next year+ revising, revising, revising.

The total time from inception to publication? Nearly seven years. That newborn baby was about to start first grade when The Sound of Us hit the shelves.

But that’s the luxury of a first book—time!

Writing my second book, Any Boy but You, was, oh, just a tad different.

Kate and I wanted to work together again. (She’s an amazing editor, if you ever get the chance.) Beth pitched her a few things, and we settled on this romance series set in a Christmas-themed town in Minnesota. Three books, one year.

I had already written drafts for two of the books. (Because I wasn’t solely working on The Sound of Us during those seven years.) However, Kate decided that we should use those books as #2 and #3 in the series, and, hey, could I write something from scratch for book #1? And could I have a polished draft finished in two months?

!!!

I said yes, of course, because I’m a professional, but privately I was eating a lot of chocolate during this time. I wrote out a very detailed outline, which Kate and I went back and forth on several times, and then I wrote it and revised it and did copyedits and the whole shebang.

From inception to publication on this book? About eight months.

What did I learn? 1) Writing isn’t precious. It’s messy. It’s mechanical. It’s a job like anything else, one where you need to do the work because no one else is going to do it for you. 2) Always keep writing, because you never know when an editor’s going to ask to see what else you have. 3) Lindor chocolate truffles are my world.


 

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Julie Hammerle is the author of THE SOUND OF US (Entangled TEEN, 2016). Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her music playlist reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

TWITTER  /  FACEBOOK  /  INSTAGRAM  /  WEBSITE

 

Review of Any Boy But You

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Any Boy But You by Julie Hammerle

Entangled Crush

February 13, 2017


Blurb from GoodreadsElena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.


One of my favorite YA novels from last year was Julie Hammerle’s The Sound of Us; you can read that review here. What made that novel stand out so much to me, besides its theme, was the characters. They were uniquely drawn and not falling into stereotypes. The same holds true for Any Boy But You.

Oliver is attached, almost literally, to his computer. He can develop a game or play games and not be under pressure to be popular like his sister. If he doesn’t put himself out there, he doesn’t risk getting rejected. Elena, on the other hand, wants to be out with her friends, but she’s stuck minding her parents’ sporting goods store while they’re off doing who knows what (seriously, what are these people doing that their teenage daughter is responsible all the time for the shop? Both sets of parents sound way more immature than their kids, but then I’ve seen that in real life when people get caught up in grudges, etc.).

If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail with its battle between the super-sized, money-backed bookstore versus the indie children’s bookshop, then you have a taste of the ideology driving the Prince’s and the Chestnutt’s feud, as Elena and her family have remained in North Pole, MN while Oliver and his family have transplanted from Florida in order to run the shop after the passing of Oliver’s grandfather. Add in the anonymous messaging, which allows Elena and Oliver to get to know each other and you have a wonderful homage to the movie.

Taking a cue from this summer’s Pokémon Go phenomenon, Oliver develops an app for a treasure hunt game that involves finding stashes and answering trivia questions regarding one of North Pole’s famous hockey playing citizens.

The ending has a grand gesture and I am always a huge fan of those!

As you can see, there is a lot to enjoy and love about this novel. And, at its heart, is the question of feuds and grudges and knowing when to make amends and letting go of things you can’t control, of deciding what’s important and putting yourself out there and taking risks.

Immediately before I began writing this review I discovered that Any Boy But You is part of a series taking place in North Pole. Yippee! Very excited about future installments!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


rating: 5-butterflies (5 out of 5 butterflies)


Exclusive! Entangled Teen Week @ Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored!!!

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Starting tomorrow I am hosting a week of reviews and guest blog posts of some great novels coming out from Entangled Teen in the next few weeks! I am so excited I can barely contain my exclamation points!

Please join us! Here’s the schedule:

Feb 4 Saturday – Review of Julie Hammerle’s Any Boy But You
Feb 5 Sunday – Julie’s Guest Blog Post
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Feb 6 Monday – Review of Sara Hantz’ There’s Something About Nik
Feb 7 Tuesday – Sara’s Guest Blog Post
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Feb 8 Wednesday – Review of Casey Griffin’s Secrets of a Reluctant Princess
Feb 9 Thursday – Casey’s Guest Blog Post
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Feb 10 Friday – Review of A.L. Davroe’s Nexis and Redux (2 for one special, ha!)
Feb 11 Saturday – A.L.’s Guest Blog Post

 

Entangled Teen Week starts tomorrow!!!

 

Body Positivity & List of 5 Favorite (Plump) Book Heroines

Thank you to EntangledTeen for inviting me to take part in The Sound of Us Body Positivity Blog Series in conjunction with the release of Julie Hammerle’s excellent novel The Sound of Us. You can see my review of The Sound of Us here.

The Sound of Us Body Positivity Blog Series (1)

As I mentioned in my review, Kiki uttered one phrase that resonated with me and I imagine with a lot of women in their teenage years: “too fat to be thin and too thin to be fat.”

For a good portion of my teenage years I was that girl, the in-between girl. But I was also an athlete so it didn’t bother me to be an in-between girl. I ran and worked out too much to be really chubby. I ate what I wanted and didn’t care how anyone regarded me as long as I could perform in whatever sport I was playing. And then during a high school softball game, I tore my ACL.

To say that that changed my life would be an understatement. The girl who was used to running, throwing, jumping, sliding was now hobbling around on crutches, eating the same way she always did and gaining pound after pound. I tipped the scales 40-50 pounds heavier when I entered college. Forget the Freshman Fifteen. I already had them.

My outlook changed and my confidence took a nosedive. But, you know, sometimes, even though you don’t feel so great about yourself, someone else can sometimes see you better and I remember my surprise (incredulity? stupefaction?) when a quirky Junior, who evidently learned to whisper in drama class, said to his friend: she’s beautiful.

Eventually I lost the weight that I had gained by running almost everyday and then by playing tennis, but I never became a really thin woman–and I accept that I never will. It’s not always so easy for other people to accept that about you, though. I had a boyfriend who, despite the fact that I was healthy and had no difficulties keeping up with him on hikes or on the tennis court, told me I wasn’t skinny enough and should lose weight. Needless to say, he and I didn’t last long. Who needs that kind of negativity in your life?

So this is why I identified with Kiki. I felt like she accepted herself physically as she was and didn’t dwell on it. Yay, Kiki!

Here’s a short list of my favorite novels, YA and Chick Lit, in no particular order, with heroines who are not candidates for the Brandy Melville club but are happy with themselves anyway.

  1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. From Goodreads: “Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.”
  2. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. From Goodreads: “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.”
  3. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. From Goodreads: “Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:
    a. lose 7 pounds b. stop smoking c. develop Inner Poise”
  4. Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. From Goodreads: “Heather Wells Rocks! Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges.”
  5. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. From Goodreads: “Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes.”

These are just a few of my favorites. If you care to, share yours in the comments. I’d love to hear about them–and probably add them to my TBR pile.

Review of The Sound of Us

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Up until today my favorite YA novel was Fangirl. The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle may be trying and succeeding at usurping that title.

Kiki is also a fangirl but of a science fiction tv show called Project Earth and its female lead, Dana/Calliope. Kiki is a nerd who loves tv and music and twitter, but she decides to hide these parts of herself away when she attends voice camp because she really wants to fit in, make friends, and have a chance at one of the seven scholarships that are up for grabs.

On one of the first nights, she finds an out-of-tune piano in the basement of the dorm and begins playing and is soon joined by a boy chewing on a Nutty Bar, Jack. She gets a crush on Jack and is pretty sure that it’s reciprocated.

In the meantime, she works hard at voice because if she doesn’t get one of the scholarships, she’s going to have to go to school at her father’s university where he expects her to study Latin. But things are getting tough as it seems that there is a set of rules that one of the instructors has drawn up and anyone violating those rules will be thrown out of the program. The instructor, Greg Bertrand, has also suggested that if Kiki rats on her fellow students then she would be more likely to get a scholarship. While Kiki refuses to be a snitch, she can’t be sure about her peers.

Besides being extremely well-written, the characters are also very well done. I could identify with Kiki and her thought that she is “too fat to be thin and too thin to be fat.” In high school musicals, she was always going to be the cast in the Aunt role or in the boy’s chorus. What I really like about Kiki is that she doesn’t sit around and whine. This could have been written as all angsty, but Hammerle didn’t do that and the novel is so much better for it.

Kiki’s roommate, Brie, “Blake Lively’s doppelganger,” initially comes across as kind of a prima donna, but then you see that she is actually just driven to succeed. In turn, all of the characters are well done, with no real stereotypes or cardboard cutouts.

I am fortunately at the beach on a foggy day and could read this book in an afternoon, but even so, I kept stopping just to draw the book out further. The story made me happy. I liked spending the time with the narrator. She’s funny, insightful, and self-deprecating, but also sincere and loyal.

“My first kiss is with a smarmy, shirtless guy who knows fuck-all about Project Earth and who smells like a sweaty baby. Seems about right.”

I very highly recommend The Sound of Us to anyone who enjoys well-written YA books and also music. As you can see from the quote, there is some language, but it is not gratuitous.

I love the book! And, thank you, Julie Hammerle. I hope to read many more of your novels in the future!

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Sound of Us will be published in five days!!! on June 7, 2016.

From Amazon: The Sound of Us

rating: a definite: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly(5 out of 5 butterflies!!!)