Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Blog Tour: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills {Guest Post, Review, +Giveaway}

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Welcome to my stop on the Positively Beautiful blog tour hosted by Bloomsbury!
Today I am excited to share my review, a guest post from Wendy, as well as a giveaway with you all!
See the full tour schedule below to follow along with this fun tour!

Positively Beautiful
   by: Wendy Mills

Publication Date: Mar. 3, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Physical ARC received via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 368 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N

16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.

Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?

As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.

Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair - but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.


I'm so excited for Wendy to give us a tour of the real life island used in the book today! Take it away Wendy!
On a beautiful Sunday morning in February, my family piled into our boat and headed to Punta Blanca Island, the real-life island I used as a model for the island in Positively Beautiful.

I’ve always loved islands. Right out of college, I moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I walked the wide sweeping beaches, feeling the pound of the Atlantic Ocean on the sand under my feet. Now I live on a small, sleepy island off the coast of Southwest Florida, where there are no stoplights and miles and miles of palm farms. Even better, there are numerous other islands just off our coast to explore, some inhabited but most not. The uninhabited ones are my favorite, which is why I’ve always loved Blanca Island.  


A view of Blanca Island as we approached by boat.


Winding through a natural pass, surrounded on all sides by the tangle of mangrove roots, and watched by ospreys, we travel into the heart of the island.


Once on the island, there are a couple of places you can set up a tent. You’re not allowed to camp here anymore, but in the old days… it was fantastic. There is no fresh water, and (of course) no bathrooms, so everything had to be brought in, and brought off when you left. The pay off? Your own private island for a night or two.


Paths wind throughout the island, and you could spend hours exploring them all. One of my favorites leads here:


A small confession. The manatee cove featured in the book is real…but it’s not on Blanca Island. It is nestled only a few minutes away on another island, Cayo Costa. The manatees were shy today, and we didn’t see any, but most of the time there are at least four or five (one cold November day, we counted thirty…and stopped counting). They surface in big bursts of briny breath, their faces just peeking out of the water, and then they disappear, leaving only a expanding circle of water ripples to mark their passing. My favorite encounter here was when a mother brought her baby (we named him Junior) to the back of the boat, and they hung out looking up at us from just under the water for a good half hour.   


Islands have always felt safe to me. Well, except for during hurricane season, but that’s another story. As a rule, when I’m on an island, surrounded by water on all sides, it feels as if the real world is very far away. I suppose it’s a no-brainer that when I needed an escape for Erin in Positively Beautiful that my thoughts would turn to Blanca Island. I hope you enjoyed the tour!


WENDY MILLS was born in Virginia and spent several years in North Carolina, but now lives with her family on the tropical island of Bokeelia, off the south-west coast of Florida where she spends her time writing and dodging hurricanes. She has published adult mysteries with Poisoned Pen Press, and Positively Beautiful is her first young adult novel.  Visit her online at www.wendymillsbooks.com or on Twitter @WendyMillsBooks.
"The days of my life are pearls on a string, some scratched and marred, some lustrous and pure, but all of them mine alone. It's not the ugliest, or the most beautiful of them, that define me, but all of them together that make me who I am."
I knew going in this would be an emotional book, what with the content that is involved. I had no idea I would have trouble finishing the book because I couldn't see past the tears in my eyes. It was inevitable and you know it's coming for the duration of the book, but wow did it hit me right there in the end. However, as emotional as this book was, I do feel Mills handled it in a very realistic manner and while the ending left me sad, I wasn't overwhelmed by my sadness to the point where I felt suffocated. Sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for someone you love if that means they can be free....
The book is divided into four parts and each part represents a different part of Erin's journey as she navigates the waters of finding out her mother has cancer as well as the fact that she could potentially be carrying the BRCA mutation, which significantly increases her chances of getting cancer also. It is a rough road for Erin, not just because of the cancer, but because she is young and a teenager, and high school is a beast all its own. I found I enjoyed Parts Two-Four significantly more than Part One. Part One was a bit slower for me and had many things that I found frustrating, including Erin herself. However, once we got to the island in Part Two, I felt more of an emotional attachment to her and what she was going through. The remainder of the book I felt more invested and there wasn't as much of the catty high school drama that accompanied the beginning. It became more about Erin working to find her own self-identity as well as being there for her mom. The romance also began to sparkle in the later parts of the book.
I don't want to give anything away, but there is one twist I did not see coming and wasn't sure how I felt about it initially. It ended up really working though and was an integral part of Erin's journey to self-discovery. She has changed so much from the beginning of the book until the end. She really struggled with some self-image issues and bullying in the beginning, but by the end she had self-confidence and I liked the way she held herself amidst her peers. Teens are such fickle creatures. They bully one another one moment, and then something terrible happens and they feel sorry for the person it happened to. It ended up leading to their respect for Erin though.
Erin isn't a perfect heroine. She is a teenager who has her flaws, makes mistakes, and agonizes over the unknown. You can't fault her for those things. Her friendship with her best friend wasn't my favorite, but unfortunately that's the way it goes sometimes. People come in and out of your life and they might not stay long, but they leave a footprint all the same.
Overall, I ended up enjoying Positively Beautiful despite my issues with the first part. It was a beautiful story of finding yourself and tackled some very difficult topics, but it ultimately showed you that life is worth living- no matter how much of it you may have left.
"Courage is not always big and bright and loud; sometimes it's as silent and small as true words, a smile when you'd rather weep, or getting up every day and living with quiet dignity while all around you life rages. You cannot truly love, live, or exist without courage."
Tour Schedule:

March 2nd: Jenuine Cupcakes
March 3rd : YA Bibliophile
March 4th : Book Revels
March 5th : The Hardcover Lover
March 6th : Bookiemoji
March 9th : Dana Square
March 10th : Lovin Los Libros
March 11th : The Book Belles
March 12th : Adventures in Reading
March 13th :Who Ru Blog


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  1. Oh that island just sounds wonderful! I'd much rather be there than studying for exams! Haha!
    The book sounds really emotional, Jessica! I can't believe it made you cry so often! I'm glad you liked it despite the issues you had during the first 1/2 of the book!
    Lovely review!

    1. Haha! Me too! I love the island pictures! It definitely looks like a fun place to be (especially in all this cold!) I was surprised by how emotional I got at the end. You know it's coming, but when it does, it just hit harder than expected I guess.

  2. Oh gosh this sounds emotional.. like make me sob emotional. This book is new to me so I am deff curious now. Great review!

    1. Haha. Thanks girl. It was definitely more emotional as the book went on, so be prepared if you ever do get to it!

  3. Thanks for hosting me, Jessica! I had a lot of fun with this post. I might need to go back to the island soon, you know, just to make sure I got all the details right. :)

    1. Haha! Thanks so much Wendy! I had a blast putting this post together! I definitely want to go see the island myself!

  4. Definitely sounds like quite the emotional read! And I do love emotional reads :) Great review and lovely post! :D

    1. Thanks Magen! I had fun putting this one together.

  5. Thanks so cool! I'd love to be able to explore an uninhabited island like Erin did in the book. But to be able to see manatees! I can't even imagine how that would be.

    1. Me too! I loved that part the most! To see manatees in the wild? That would be so wow...

  6. I tried my hardest to get a picture of the manatees yesterday but those suckers are hard to catch on film. They're absolutely humongous, but for the most part when they come up for air they just stick their snout up out of the water and do this big snort... and then disappear. Lots of pictures of water rings...

    1. Ahhhh! I just read somewhere about a river in FL you can swim with them! I would die. That would be so cool! LOL. That's ok you didn't get pictures though. I can imagine they'd be hard to capture with them not really needing to come out of water to breathe!

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