December 7, 2016

Fixers, Feelings, Friendships, Families & Fears

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release Date: July 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury; Bloomsbury USA Children's
Pages: 372 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Series: The Fixer #1
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Brief Thoughts on The Fixer
Right after my baby was born, I binge watched every episode of Scandal that was available on Netflix. I was addicted! And although I hadn't really been interested in The Fixer before then, I couldn't resist when I saw it described as a YA version of that show. The heroine, Tess Kendrick, has spent her life on her grandfather's ranch. But everything changes when her estranged sister, Ivy, shows up to bring her to D.C. Tess is surrounded by powerful people, and she soon finds herself draw into a web of politics, power and a dangerous conspiracy involving the family member of one of her classmates. I had pretty low expectations going into the book, and it completely took me by surprise! I loved that Tess unwittingly became a "fixer" at her school based on her no-nonsense attitude and approach to problems. The mystery was really intriguing and kept me glued to the pages! I enjoyed the family relationships and the friendships - even though I was hoping for a little more romance. Some people will probably love that aspect, rightly so, but I'm a sucker for a good love story. I haven't picked up the sequel yet, but I'm definitely planning on it!

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury; Bloomsbury USA Children's
Pages: 352 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Brief Thoughts on When We Collided
I was a huge fan of Emery Lord's first two books, Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You, so I was excited to pre-order When We Collided. Although, I'll admit, I was a little nervous. I loved that her previous two books had depth but were still "feel good" reads, but the summary of this one struck me as one that would potentially be a little heavier. It's the story of Jonah and Vivi, two teenagers who meet one summer and are immediately drawn to one another. They quickly establish a relationship, but there are things lurking below the surface that threaten to disrupt their happiness. Lord's writing continues to shine, just as I expected, and she sensitively depicts mental illness. Yet I'm still conflicted. It was a well-written book that knowledgeably dealt with an important topic - but I didn't enjoy reading it. It was uncomfortable and frustrating, and I wished it hadn't included the romance at all. If it had focused solely on Vivi and her mental health, I may have enjoyed it more. But watching the intensity of the romance from the very beginning - and knowing it couldn't be headed anywhere good - made me want to stop reading several times. Do with that what you will.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Simon & Schuster BFYR
Pages: 519 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Brief Thoughts on The Unexpected Everything
There was never a question of whether or not I was going to pick up Morgan Matson's latest release, The Unexpected Everything. I've loved everything I've read from her so far, and I had a feeling this one would be no different. Andie had her summer all planned out: an amazing internship that will help her achieve her future goals for medical school and as many as adventures as possible with her best friends Bri, Palmer and Toby. But a scandal that disrupts her father's political career throws everything off course for Andie, too. Isn't that how all the best stories start? There's so much that I loved about this book: the amazing depiction of friendship, the focus on Andie's rocky relationship with her father - and the steps they take to repair it - and, of course, the boy. Matson always delivers excellent book boyfriends, and Clark may be her best one yet! I absolutely loved him and basically every scene he was in. The only negative I could say about this story is that it felt overly long at times. It doesn't have the most complicated plot (not a big deal to me), but it felt like the story meandered a few times and could have been used a little tighter pacing. However, I still loved this book and thought it was a perfect summer treat!

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Macmillan; Henry Holt BFYR
Pages: 320 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Brief Thoughts on This Adventure Ends
I read First & Then last year based on the comparison to Pride and Prejudice and Friday Night Lights. I went into the book with high expectations and wasn't disappointed, so I knew I'd have to keep an eye out for future releases from Emma Mills. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long! In This Adventure Ends, Sloane moves with from New York to Florida right before her senior year of high school. It's far from ideal, especially because Sloane's dad, an author in the vein of Nicholas Sparks, is suffering from a bit of writer's block. The last thing Sloane expects is to find a group of friends that welcome her into their circle, but that's exactly what happens. It starts with Vera and Gabe, twins who couldn't be more different. Their burgeoning friendship leads to an unexpected adventure when a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing. Sloane is determined to track it down, and the journey brings to light more than she could have imagined. From the very first page, I was hooked! I loved the witty dialogue, adorable banter and well-developed characters (even the secondary ones). I cracked up over the discussion on fan fiction and shipping, which seemed particularly fitting for a book with a couple that I was immediately rooting for. I was skeptical of Sloane's quest to find the missing painting but soon found myself dying to see if she'd be successful. I wish there'd been just a little more to the story, however, because it actually felt a bit short to me.

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins; HarperTeen
Pages: 382 pages
Source & Format: Borrowed; Hardcover
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Brief Thoughts on Girl Against the Universe
I don't really know what prompted me to pick up Girl Against the Universe when I saw it at the library one day. I haven't read anything by Stokes before, and I hadn't heard much about this particular book at the time. But the cover was cute, I was in the mood for contemporary, and I figured it was worth a shot. Thankfully, it was exactly what I needed at the time! Maguire knows she's bad luck. Wherever she goes, trouble seems to follow. It all started with the car accident that killed her brother, father and uncle but left her with barely a scratch - on the outside, at least. The emotional weight of that loss, combined with the other tragedies and accidents that followed, left their mark on Maguire. She avoids new people and situations because she believes it's safer for everyone if she just keeps to herself. But a series of events, including counseling, may just give Maguire the push she finally needed to re-join the world around her. Despite the heavy subject matter, this book made me so happy while I was reading it! I loved how it dealt with Maguire's anxiety, the positive depiction of therapy, the incredible support system in the form of family and friends and the cute love interest. It was a great balance of swoon and serious!

2 comments:

  1. I've got The Fixer and Girl Against the Universe on my TBR, so it's really great to see that you enjoyed both of those (very different) books! I'm especially leaning towards checking out The Fixer already, because I'm in the mood for that type of story.

    I loved When We Collided. It was definitely painful to read, but I also felt like it was honest in the best way and I loved that! I also loved The Unexpected Everything, especially for the friendships in it. And, of course, This Adventure Ends was wonderful. One of my favorites of this year!

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  2. I had the exact same feelings about When We Collided! There's no doubt it's a fantastically written story, but I definitely did not enjoy reading it... which is unfortunate considering how much I LOOVED her other books!

    I read and enjoyed the rest a lot - minus GATU because its still on my TBR.

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