Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Pucker Up

Technique #8 on How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You: Gloss up your lips so his slide right off!

Pucker Up

BOOK REPORT for How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington 

Cover Story: Text Me
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Cosmo Article
Bonus Factor: Shakespearean Retelling 
Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Cast Members

Cover Story: Text Me

There’s not much to this cover, but it works for me. I love the typography and the bright color, plus the little silhouettes keep it playful but not kitschy.

The Deal:

Aurora Skye knows exactly what her perfect first kiss will look like (hint: there will be fireworks). She may not know who it will be with (though she hopes it's her Potential Prince™), but she does know how she will feel when it happens (ah-mazing!). And she's quite certain that her perfect first kiss is definitely NOT going to happen with Hayden Paris, her sworn enemy, on stage in front of the whole school.

Most girls might be bummed that they’ve never been kissed by the first day of junior year, but not our gal Aurora. She's not interested in giving away that first time to just any weirdo who consults his horoscope before their date. *cough*Bradley*cough* With her vision of writing the first self-help teenage-dating manual, Aurora sets out to practice her theories on her friends, and maybe herself if she happens to find a worthy Prince wandering the halls. To further her machinations, Aurora persuades her social circle to join the school production of Much Ado About Nothing, but when she realizes her character has to lock lips with her ex-friend, Hayden, she is determined to everything she can to avoid it.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

Look, Aurora's heart is in the right place. She cares about her friends and wants to see them happy. But, guys, the girl is exhausting. If I was inducted into her group of pals, I'm pretty sure I'd have eye-strain because of all the eye-rolling. It's no surprise she won the lead in the school play because her ability to over-(re)act is top-notch. Take this line, which Aurora thinks to herself in all seriousness:

“Fate was too cruel. The whole of my life I'd been living under the happy misapprehension that my first kiss was mine to give away. Meanwhile, destiny had been laughing to itself over the truth. Hayden Paris was going to have the pleasure of kissing my virgin lips.”

It was super frustrating to watch Aurora self-sabotage with her false assumptions and constant jumping to conclusions. She's been hurt very badly by her family circumstances, and I feel that gives her some unresolved insecurities, which I can sympathize with, but until she's honest with herself and works through those issues, it's safe to say that we will not be besties.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

It's impossible to build up a good swoon when your main character is stubbornly blind to the adorableness in front of her. What is wrong with Aurora? Hayden is a dreamboat! I was ready to climb into the book and push her out of the way to volunteer as tribute.

Let it be known that I am the first one to line up for a plot that has enemistry, but this one didn't give me tingles for two reasons: Aurora's completely lame explanations about why she "hated" Hayden (one huge justification was, I kid you not, that he once pushed her into the pool) and the fact that Hayden was completely transparent about his feelings the entire time. A one-sided enemistry isn't what I expected, and it robs readers of the building tension and inevitable change of heart we desire.

Talky Talk: Cosmo Article

Eglington’s writing is breezy and full of quips, some which hit the mark and made me smile (Aurora’s audition piece) and some which felt a bit too twee (the phrase Find a Prince program and the NAD). This book is not badly written, but I think this is one of those times when age becomes an inverse factor to my enjoyment of the plot.

The beginning was peppered with a surprising amount of advice breaks—as in, the plot would be moving along and then screech to a stop when Aurora would provide the readers with helpful tips like The Glide-By: walking by a group of guys wearing your loudest high heels while ignoring them so they can’t help but stare. Aurora's step-by-step guidelines on how to treat a man who's broken up with you felt at once both dated and incredibly obvious, which made me wonder who out there would be buying her self-help book if all of the advice could basically be found in old Cosmo articles. Thankfully, as the story progressed there were fewer moments like this, and by the end Eglington managed to provide Aurora with more depth.

Bonus Factor: Shakespearean Retelling

I was not really a big Shakespeare fan until college. My favorite English professor somehow ended up being the one Shakespeare nut on staff, and, under her tutelage, the Bard became interesting and relatable for me. With Much Ado About Nothing being one of my favorites of Will's comedies, it felt natural that the parts I liked the most happened during the play rehearsals.

This doesn't seem to be a straight retelling of the Shakespeare play, but there were definitely thematic echoes: mistaken identities, enemies falling in love, farcical reactions to normal events (I know this flies in the face of Aurora's ideology, but, seriously, it's just a kiss). I got some very strong Emma/Clueless vibes as well, especially with Aurora’s bungled attempts to interfere with her friends’ love lives and when she had her Cher-by-the-fountain moment.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting

Aurora's mom will be welcomed into this ignominious hall of infamy by all the crappy moms who came before her. While her behavior in the now is supremely jerky—blowing off her daughter for a date, promising to visit and flaking, etc.—the ex-Mrs. Skye will forever suck because of what she did back then: Abandoning her twelve-year-old daughter and showing zero remorse over the decision. This event clearly affected Aurora in ways she has only now begun to realize throughout the course of the book.

Casting Call:

Peyton List as Aurora Skye

She seems like she could pull off Aurora’s dramatics and bubbly nature.

Bob Morley as Hayden Paris

Hayden always calls Aurora ‘Princess’ and although she finds it super-annoying, we know he’s really saying it as a term of endearment. Once this happened, there was no way I could picture Hayden as anyone but Mr. Bellamy Blake himself.

Relationship Status: Cast Members

Circumstances forced us to collaborate for a while, Book, but once the curtain falls and we’re no longer spending every night practicing lines, I think it’s better that we look back on our time for what it was: a brief moment where we stood together on the dark stage squinting against the spotlight, shouting into the void to provide enlightenment of the human condition. Aaand SCENE!

Blog Tour

We're excited to be part of the blog tour for this upcoming release! Check out more info on the author, Tara Eglington:

Photo by Ted Sealey

Tara Eglington grew up in Byron Bay, Australia. Her hobbies when she’s not writing include watching endless cat videos on YouTube, planning pretend holidays to the Maldives, and day-dreaming about who would play Hayden Paris in a film adaptation of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You. The novel’s sequel will be published in 2017.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from St. Martin’s Press. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You is available on 10/25/16.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.