Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CBT: Flat Out Love Book Tour + review

Hello and welcome to Reader Girls. We are hosting the Flat-Out Love Book Tour today. 
Book blurb: Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance. 

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer. 

About the author: Jessica Park is the author of FLAT-OUT LOVE, the young adult novel RELATIVELY FAMOUS, five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park) and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2). She grew up in the Boston area and then went to Macalester College in frigid St. Paul, Minnesota. During her freshman year, there was a blizzard on Halloween, and she decided that she was not cut out for such torture. So she moved back to the east coast where, she'd forgotten, it still snows. Oops. She now lives in New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, she is probably on Facebook , pining over 80s rock stars, or engaging in "Glee" activities. Or some combination of the three. Probably with a coffee in hand. 

Jessica loves to hear from readers and does her best to get back to everyone who writes her! You can e-mail her HERE. Tell her about your ex-boyfriend who was a font nerd. Or send pictures of awesome Flat People on adventures. (You get bonus points for this. Possibly some sort of award, too.) Stories of online romance. Apartment rental disasters. Skydiving experiences... Whatever you want.

And like any normal person, she has an online addiction, so you can find her on FACEBOOK,GOODREADS, TWITTER, and blogging at What the Kid Says about her kooky conversations with her son. Her young adult book, RELATIVELY FAMOUS, has its own website (greedy book!), so stop by for more info.

 Flat-Out Love is available for the Kindle and can also be found at most e-bookstores and in paperback through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Book Tour List:
10/3/2011 - Practical Frugality
10/4/2011 - Colloquium
10/5/2011 - Reader Girls
10/6/2011 - Kritter's Ramblings
10/7/2011 - Reviews by Molly
10/8/2011 - Laurie Here Reading and Writing Reviews
10/9/2011 - WV Stitcher
10/10/2011 - A Bookish Affair
10/11/2011 - the bookish mama
10/12/2011 - Books in the Burbs
10/13/2011 - The Many Thoughts of a Reader
10/14/2011 - Proud Book Nerd
10/15/2011 - Hippes Beauty and Books OH MY
10/16/2011 - StephTheBookworm
10/17/2011 - A Cozy Reader's Corner
10/18/2011 - Authors Book Corner
10/19/2011 - Amusing Reviews   

Our Review: Family is one of those tricky words which can mean so much to some, and not much to others. It's a word which represents so many different things to people. In Flat-Out Love, Julie leaves her divorced mom behind in Ohio to begin her life away at college in Boston. After an apartment scam leaves her on the street in front of a burrito place, she calls home. Her mom reconnects with an old college friend who lives close by and Julie is suddenly being picked up by a nerdy guy driving a Volvo which needs some automotive TLC. In the suburbs of Boston, she finds a family with an outwardly normal appearance that is anything but. And in her caring way, Julie reaches out to help people in need and discovers some things about herself, her own broken family, and especially about the power of love.

Flat-Out Love is simply charming. At first I thought Julie's story would be a fun, fast read. It was.... but it was so much more. I really felt for the characters, from level-headed Julie with a huge heart, to the strange but endearing Watkins family, and even Julie's new college friends--the people in this book seem so real. Revealing parts of the story through emails, text messages and Facebook chats and updates gave this book a strong sense of realism and immediacy. And one of the strongest aspects of Flat-Out Love is how intelligent the characters are. Matt and his family may be bookish and nerdy, but Julie, a smart regular girl, can match his one-liners. The entire storyline about Celeste carrying around a life-size cardboard cut-out of her oldest and cherished brother, world traveler Finn, packed a tremendous emotional punch. Julie's scenes with Celeste and Flat Finn (I kept thinking of  the kid's book, Flat Stanley) were touching. 

There were so many good scenes throughout this book. Some of my favorites were between Julie with Matt and Celeste, my true favorites turned out to be with Finn (and he was never there in person). Just when I thought the text messages may be too much, the author threw such a curve ball I had to sit back and rethink my initial reaction. It became clear how wrong I was and it was all because of one scene when Julie, who suffers from acrophobia, gets stuck inside an elevator with only her cell phone for help. Her messages with Finn choked me up.  Jessica Park wrung so many emotions out of a short one-sided conversation and made me really care about this book. The continuation of this scene afterwards inside Seth's place was another grabber.

Flat-Out Love is a contemporary adult novel about family and love and it will pull and tug on your heartstrings. 

Rating: Really liked it.

Favorite excerpt: "OK, fine, she didn't entirely understand what they were to each other, but they were something. Something more than friends. They had never even met, so he wasn't exactly a boyfriend, but Julie didn't feel the need to define their relationship, because she enjoyed whatever they had going on.

But now more than ever, she wanted Finn to come home. At night, she'd lay in bed, reading over his emails and texts and scrolling through his pictures, wondering if he did the same thing. She could sense his energy and his mood in each message he had written, and she'd come to know him so well that she could practically feel him. Like she knew what it would do to her to be with him.

So she would wait for him. Because one day, Finn would be home. One day, they could see what this really was between them."

Book source: From author for a book tour and for my honest review.

Cover comment: It's OK. Would have preferred something else. 

Reader Girls thanks Jessica Park and Crazy Book Tours.


  1. Thanks for the great review. Your favorite excerpt is one of mine too. Well, one of many.

  2. Yes, Lori, there were so many favorites which made pulling one out to spotlight difficult but fun:)

  3. What a totally perfect review! Thank you so much for hosting a day on my book tour. I really appreciate it!

  4. Very nice review/ I actually liked the cover page though it felt very lonely.