Review + Giveaway: Kiss Me Again

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway: Kiss Me AgainKiss Me Again by Rachel Vail
Published by HarperTeen on December 5, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-stars

He closed the distance I'd opened up between us and kissed me lightly on the lips. "Maybe we can just be," Kevin whispered.

Charlie Collins doesn't know what to do about Kevin Lazarus, her crush and, awkwardly, her new stepbrother. Things were complicated enough when their parents were only dating and when Kevin was going out with Charlie's best friend, Tess. Now, post-wedding, Charlie and Kevin are crossing paths and crossing lines, and then they have to eat breakfast . . . together.

If only Charlie could get some time away from Kevin and her annoyingly happy and strange stepfamily, she might be able to deal. Yet first she has to make things right with George, her sort-of boyfriend, and Tess, whose trust she broke. But while Charlie struggles to be the perfect friend and daughter, at the end of the day Kevin is the one waiting for her at home. Would it really be so bad if they kissed again?

The follow-up toย If We Kiss, Rachel Vail's addictive story of first kisses and heartbreak,ย Kiss Me Againย at long last answers the question of what happens when a crush so off-limits it has to be a fantasy suddenly becomes something very real.

First Sentence: “I tried not to look at Kevin Lazarus’s lips, or remember how they tasted.”

Review:
As I began reading Kiss Me Again, I was initially highly concerned. I really liked the direction that Charlie was heading in at the end of If We Kiss. She had finally managed to make a step away from her unhealthy crush on boy-slut Kevin Lazarus, which was really good timing, too, since her mom and his dad just got married. Then, I open the next book and there she is obsessing over kissing Kevin again. Vail does, though, quickly convince me that the story is actually going where it needs to go, and Kiss Me Again turns out to be a touching story more about family dynamics than romance.

Now that they’re step-siblings, Charlie and Kevin have a serious conundrum, since they are teens who have kissed one another and would like to do that more. The romance, while perhaps the most obvious element of the story, does not dominate the other aspects by any means. Charlie and Kevin both grow a lot in their dealings with romantic relationships, Kevin learning to be more mindful and less of a flirt, while Charlie refuses to lead on a friend with a crush on her. Their surprisingly mature actions, especially in comparison with the events of If We Kiss really impressed me and made me much more sympathetic than I was previously.

Settling into a new family is difficult. The Lazarus family moves into the house Charlie and her mother have been in. Charlie has to share a bathroom for the first time in her life, and deal with the fact that the soap is now often wet from someone else (which is totally gross, I agree, girl). With her mom, Charlie didn’t have many chores, but Joe Lazarus, her new step-father, believes in everyone doing their share. Joe is also much less lenient than her mother.

What’s great, though, is that Vail highlights both the struggles and discomforts of these two families blending, and the wonderful parts. Most touching, I think is the affection shown by all towards Samantha, Kevin’s younger sister. They all try to be there for her. Never is this better illustrated than when she loses one of her baby teeth. While she’s sleeping, Charlie slips a dollar under her pillow. In the morning, Sam happily announces that the tooth fairy left her four dollars this time, and you realize that all four other family members left her a dollar for her tooth. Much as they may all have moments where they wish the marriage hadn’t happened, ultimately, they are all making the best of it and taking good care of one another.

One of the trickiest things for Charlie to overcome in this change is that she has less time to spend with her mom. They’re still trying to work out a nice balance of mother-daughter time when the book ends, but they are working on it. I mention this because Kiss Me Again has one of the best scenes (meaning incredibly awkward) where a parent tries to discuss sexuality with the child.

Charlie also grows as a person on two more fronts. She gets a job, all through her own motivation and earns her first ever money. In a whole other realm of life, she learns a bit about friendship. Though her backstabbing of Tess in If We Kiss cannot be forgiven, that does not necessarily make Tess a good friend either. In Kiss Me Again, Charlie’s starting to realize how imbalanced and unhealthy her relationship with Tess is. I do think that this lets Charlie off the hook a little bit too easily, perhaps an attempt to make her more sympathetic, but it’s a good lesson for teens about friendship, and how insidiously terrible for your self-esteem a supposed best friend can be.

Rachel Vail’s follow-up to If We Kiss greatly improves on its predecessor. If you were on the fence about reading the second one, I would recommend it. Charlie’s voice finds its stride here, and the focus on family makes this a rare, powerful young adult read.

Favorite Quote:

“‘See? This is what I mean. I can’t figure all this out if I’m your sort-of-unofficial girlfriend, because you are way too nice and funny and it confuses me.’
‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘I’ll work on being less nice, for future unofficial girlfriends.’
‘I know you think you’re doing the moral thing by sticking by me . . .’
‘Yeah, that’s why I’ve stuck with you. Making a moral point. If I get a hundred moral points, I can trade them in for valuable merchandise.’
‘George.’
‘Toasters, pencil sharpeners, dusting cloths . . .'”

Giveaway:
For US and Canadian readers, I am offering up a two-book set of If We Kiss and Kiss Me Again. For those who are bothered by such things, know that the covers match, but one is paperback and one is hardback. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

32 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Kiss Me Again”

  1. Lilian says:

    I am one of the few people who really doesn’t care if books match or not. I do like a pretty cover though…but at the end of the day I don’t keep many books after I’ve read them, and whether they match or not is of no consequence. I get why people would want them to match on their beautiful, color coordinated bookshelves…but my bookshelf is ordered by the how much I want to read the book (books I REALLY want to get to/books for re-reading/reference books closer to me, while all others are stuffed elsewhere.)
    And because I constantly need more bookshelf space (this explains the towering pile of books on my dresser,) I rarely keep books after I read them.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      That awkward moment where you realize people think your cute phrase for the free entry is a question they’re meant to answer. Whooooops.

    • Lilian says:

      ….well then. GIMMIE MY THREE MINUTES BACK. But I wanted to answer…instead of racking my brain for something to say about a book I haven’t read. So I forgive you.:)

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, that’s true. To be fair, though, commenting on the review is optional. I’ll count the entry though, because I can see where the confusion came from.

    • Lilian says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Lilian says:

      Which is why I didn’t claim the “comment on this review” entry, but I DID claim the “free entry” entry…even though I was like “SHE SAID IT WAS FREE, WHY IS THERE A QUESTION HERE? THAT SNEAKY WOMAN!!”

      I might claim the “comment on my review” entry when I think of something intelligent to say about the review…seeing as I cant get away with the generic “great review! I will be sure to check it out later!” after your discussion post…

    • Christina says:

      Ha. Well, to be fair, I do that every time, but I have learned a lesson: don’t skip adding the “then click the green button.” I just do it to entertain myself.

    • Lilian says:

      I just realized I had a double post (because I thought my first comment didn’t go through since I typed it on my Kindle.) I swear I didn’t see it. >__< *deletes the first comment* I dislike that Blogger retains the “This comment has been removed by the author.” like I did something wrong and is now trying to cover up her tracks or something. hmph. You add questions for people just to amuse yourself? I see a few generic comments on this post, tsk tsk…maybe you should make people read your “Great review” discussion as a pre-requsite entry. Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      Oh. No big deal. I know crazy things happen on the internet. I could probably remove that if you REALLY care.

      *shrugs* Sometimes I can think of funny things to put in there. Sometimes not.

      Ha. Maybe I should. Except they wouldn’t.

  2. It’s great if the books match but I am not going to turn down a book if it doesn’t match. To me a book is a book…be it a e-book, paperback or hardback. I treasure them all!

  3. I just got this in the mail yesterday. I haven’t read the first book, so I was thinking of leaving this alone rather than add two books to my way-too-long TBR, but now I’m thinking otherwise. Great review.

    Karis @ YA Litwit

  4. I hadn’t heard of this series until your review. Sounds good, complicated, awkward, lovely.

  5. erin says:

    I also hadn’t heard of this series before this post. Thanks so much for the honest review! Definitely going to go check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Liene says:

    There is only one thing worse than series books that don’t match… Not having read the first book in a series!

  7. hahaha I read the first sentence before reading your review and LOLed when you said that Charlie “had finally managed to make a step away from her unhealthy crush on boy-slut Kevin Lazarus” I guess girls never learn huh? but like you, I am glad the author took a direction that was more concentrated on the new family dynamics and that both characters actually had developed.

    great review, and thanks for the giveaway! I honestly do get annoyed if the covers don’t match, but I won’t re-buy a book just to match my series because that is a waste of money!

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    • Christina says:

      Yup, she sure doesn’t learn, but I like that both she and Kevin grow a lot, so it wasn’t as frustrating as I thought it would be.

      Well, the covers DO match. The formats don’t. lol.

  8. Christine says:

    I do like having books in a series match, but I’m not obsessive about it. I had to get over my matching-books obsession when I started getting paperback copies and hardcover copies of book in the same series, so once I got myself used to it, it doesn’t really bother me anymore. I just love a pretty cover–I’m definitely a cover snob and judge books on them before I even bother looking at them.

  9. LOL my husband used to live with 2 of his friends and they would each keep their own bar of soap in a box on the bathroom counter with their names on it. The boxes were always all soggy and wet but they refused to share soap.

    Awww the tooth fairy thing sounds so cute. I teared up a little not gonna lie. My hormones are all out of whack since having kids. Theres a Becel (yes a fucking margarine) commercial on TV right now that gets me every time!

    This sounds SO GOOD! You are a bad influence on me Christina!!! I WANT!

    • Mismatched covers DO bother me. However I like FREE a lot more than matching. LOL

    • Christina says:

      Bahahaha, that is HILARIOUS. Though I would totally do that. This is why I like liquid soap. Even my own bar soap squicks me out. It just sits there accumulating germs from the air, and no.

      Hahaha, mama hormones. That is one of the reasons I never want kids. It changes your body and you are never the same. That was seriously a freaking adorable scene, though.

      Maybe you’ll win?

  10. This series is new to me, and i will readily admit i have not ventured into YA contemporary, and i think girls will always obsess over boys and kissing at this age.

  11. Natalie R says:

    I havent read many YA contemporary books, but I am trying to expand my reading base and these two books seem like just the way to start. Your review of Kiss Me Again really captured my attention for this book, and the blurb from the back makes it seem really good! I’ll have to stop in at my library to see if they have If we Kiss because I really really want to read it. RIGHT NOW!!

    • Christina says:

      If We Kiss wasn’t nearly as strong a read as this one, but it was enjoyable. If you’re on the fence with that one, it would still be worth giving this one a try.

  12. Tiffany L says:

    This series hasn’t even crossed my path until just now and guess what? I’m convinced I’m going to love it! Even if I don’t win in the Rafflecopter this is going on my TBR for the very near future!

    Thank you for the excellent review and recommendation!

  13. Tricia C. says:

    I have students who love Rachel Vail but I wasn’t familiar with these two books. Interesting premise – falling for the boy who then becomes your stepbrother. Love the tooth fairy aspect; so adorable that they all gave her the dollar. Bet she was a happy girl in the morning!

    Since I’m growing a classroom library, I totally don’t care that they don’t match. My students can’t seem to get enough of romances. Thanks for the heads up on this series.

  14. Anita Yancey says:

    I think both books would make great reads. Kiss Me Again has a really cute cover. Thanks for this chance.

  15. Aly says:

    I know we’re not supposed to answer this question, but my OCD side must comment: I FREAKING HATE WHEN COVERS DON’T MATCH (I’m not yelling at you, but at the universe). Like, why not give me the option. Hell I’d probably buy both (if the second cover is prettier) but I hate when I start a series and they change it up on me. grrrrr ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, I don’t mind if they don’t match. In this case, though, they do. It’s just one is a paperback and one is hardback. The formats don’t match but the covers do.

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