Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Andie had it all planned out. 

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.


Amazing friends? Check.


Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).


But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.


Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. 


And where’s the fun in that?

***Non-Spoiler Review***

If I wasn't already a fan of Morgan Matson after reading Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, Since You've Been Gone definitely sealed the deal; it's easily one of my favorite books ever. Which made this book my most anticipated read of the summer.

In true Morgan Matson fashion, The Unexpected Everything was actually everything I expected (except for maybe one little thing, which I'll get to later...). Filled with all you'd want in a YA Contemporary, The Unexpected Everything had an interesting, not-so-average, but definitely relatable heroine struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants; friendship dynamics that revisited some SYBG themes, exploring identity and what it means to be yourself without one another and even how it is adding a boyfriend into the inner circle; and one of my favorite aspects was the relationship (or lack thereof at first) that Andie had and eventually built up with her father throughout the summer. I always love to see family incorporated! Mom and dad are always so underrated.

This book was filled with just the right amount of adventure, fun, quirk, drama, and did I mention romance? Clark, the love interest, is a teenage bookworm's fantasy come true and I enjoyed seeing his and Andie's relationship play out. Usually, a story ends when the couple finally gets together, but I liked reading about them just being and doing what couples and friends do.

Also, if you need any further reason to read this book, as the super adorable cover suggests, there's lots of dogs (and a feisty cat)!


***P.S. there's more! SPOILERS AHEAD SO PROCEED WITH CAUTION - FAIR WARNING!***

Now, onto other matters... like that one thing I DIDN'T expect. As soon as I finished The Unexpected Everything, I was left feeling happy and satisfied with the ending and the promise the future held for all our main characters. Loose ends were tied, but not in a way that makes it predictable or boring. I felt like everyone was where they were supposed to be. All except one, that is.

Early on in the book we are introduced to Topher, fellow kid of a politician, who Andie has an on-and-off again fling with. He was basically the total opposite of Clark, but not in a bad way per se. Maybe I was supposed to hate him, or not even give him a second thought when we had Clark, but after finishing the book, I kept wondering about Topher. We know that in the end, Alexander Walker opted out of the political life, so Andie got her out, but Topher's still a politician's kid and I can only imagine how his story would unfold if we got to visit him again, especially if it were at a time he experiences some of what Andie did in this book, for the first time. AH SO MUCH POTENTIAL!



So, with these serious thoughts (aka FEELS), I took to Twitter (as fangirls do) to inquire (re: beg) The Morgan Matson herself, for a Topher book/spin-off/story/anything, really.



She let me know I was def a minority in the I Heart Topher club, but I did get a few Twitter replies agreeing with me! Progress!!



Anyway, as the sole member of the club (who is totes open to recruits), I thought I'd make a list of reasons why *I* liked Topher so much and why he stood out to me whenever he got some screen time, making him a character (however minor he might have been) whose story I definitely want more of.

So, a breakdown:
Christopher "Topher" Fitzpatrick

  • Gave Andie her meaningful first kiss (that was actually kinda cute).
  • Has a sort of hookup agreement with Andie that is mutual and he respects & accepts when she turns him down and tells him she has a boyfriend.
  • He understands Andie in a way no one else really does about the pressure and expectations placed on them because of their political figure parents. She even learns how to discreetly drink at parties from him! (Which I guess might not be a plus to some people... but he has her back!)
  • Towards the end of the book, when Andie tries to distract herself from the Clark breakup with a Topher rebound and it doesn't work, she tells him how she feels about Clark, and that's when we get a better glimpse of him: 
"You love him? Topher asked, sounding not cool or dismissive or sarcastic, but for the first time in a long time, genuine. I could hear the hurt in his voice, but also the confusion underneath.
 ...
"I sometimes wonder," he finally said, his voice soft and maybe the most genuine I'd ever heard it, all games and stratagems gone, "if maybe in the beginning, I'd just...if we'd actually..." He reached forward and brushed his fingers through the ends of my hair slowly, like he knew that soon he wouldn't be able to do this. "Never mind," he said, shaking his head, some of the briskness coming back into his voice. He looked away from me and adjusted his cuffs, and when he looked back, I could see the little authentic window he'd shown me was now closed. 
 -pgs 461-462, The Unexpected Everything

Like I said, THE POTENTIAL! AH!

  • And lastly, my favorite, because I think it is most telling about his character, is Topher's warning to Andie about her dad's appearance at the governor's event. He didn't HAVE to give her a heads up, but he did because whether he understood her or not about caring that much about someone (esp when that someone wasn't him), he had her back anyway even with how things were left, instead of acting like some wounded kicked puppy like most guys would after a rejection.

So when you REALLY look at him, his character layed out like that and NOT next to Clark (who is quite literally the perfect literary boyfriend, especially for Andie), Topher is a pretty upstanding guy, if a little misunderstood and a little (or a lot) private, just the way Andie was in the beginning of her story with her walls and all. I'm also certain Morgan mentioned him being pretty hot too, and well, I AM ALWAYS HERE FOR THAT. 

Now, I will fantasize about the possibility of a Topher story, which kinda sorta makes me wish I wrote fan fiction in the meantime...



Monday, July 4, 2016

Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry


Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. 

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

***

The Love That Split the World is one of those tough books that I'm not even going to try and rate right now. I'm scratching my head at the ending, still reeling while I somehow know it's perfect. Reading it takes a commitment because it's almost certain you won't know what the hell is happening, until you think you do only to be still completely clueless a few chapters later. It's confusing and a challenge, but if you stick with it the pay-off is great.

This story is one of those rare game-changing ones. The kind that is written so lovely, it makes you see and think and feel differently about all kinds of things, in ways you never thought to before.

It's also a big mystery the majority of the time you're reading it, and the only problem with stories like this is that we often try to puzzle them out before we even really begin. This is one that takes time and patience, yes, but more so curiosity and an interest to listen and experience it wholly. It's beautiful how when paying attention, things start to come together and fit like puzzle pieces waiting to be sorted, and you'll be blown away by the message Emily Henry translates through this one of a kind book. 

Truly a story that'll stay with you long after you've turned the last page.



Other books/movies it reminded me of while reading: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Butterfly Effect, Before I Fall.

 Buy your copy here. (I get no commission with that link, btw.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.


***



I honestly wasn't even sure I'd be continuing this series, but luckily, with everyone talking and praising this book up and down for the past two months, I gave in to avoid a serious case of FOMO.

THANKING ALL YOU BOOK PUSHERS NOW.

It's funny to look back and read over my thoughts & feels for book one, and how deceiving ACOTAR was as a first installment. Sarah J Maas is either evil or a genius. As I've just finished reading this book, I'll say both. I think that's the reason it puts people off or doesn't sit well. Sarah J Maas has somehow dug herself into trouble with the constant ship jumping in her Throne of Glass series, which may or may not have been pre-determined and calculated. What started off as a Cinderella retelling with Prince Dorian as the assumed love interest is now hardly even a possibility as the endgame four books later.

This series really is different though. Unlike some books and authors COUGHSHATTERMECOUGH, it's apparent that every move for this couple was planned and mapped out down to the slightest detail. There are certain things that don't add up in the aforementioned series. The cracks you can see in the story development and can tell just when the author got the bright idea mid-way through the series to make a villain the love interest. Not so much here, and it's obvious. Maas excellently and seamlessly weaves bits and pieces from book one that at first didn't make much sense and did nothing other than validate our annoyance/dislike for Rhys. But with the context clear now, those scenes - down to the smallest detail and dialogue - are actually integral to the plot, development and eventual conclusion of this trilogy. (Also, THANK GOD it's just a trilogy. I cannot stand the longer waits anymore.)

If you, like me, didn't really enjoy book one, I suggest picking this book up with an open mind. I actually suggest rereading the first book with an open mind, and not picking a love interest to root for till you're about 1/4 into this installment. Just some advice I wish someone would have given me! I also wouldn't look at this series as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast as the first book was heavily marketed as. It has some Beauty and the Beast elements and themes, but I think it's misleading, and sends the wrong message to those looking at an OTP to root for, especially when the love interest they'll inevitably pick will turn out to be the wrong one.




Overall, such a great book, and one of the best sequels ever.

Will now start the torturous wait for the conclusion (which, I'm sure will be insane, in the best way...).

Friday, June 3, 2016

2016 Update: New Favorites

So, though I've been gone so long, that doesn't mean the reading ever stopped. Hardly, in fact. Over the past year, I've discovered some new absolute FAVORITE books that are already housed on my keeping-forever shelf. (Yes, it's a thing.)

I haven't decided whether I'll be doing full-length reviews of each title later because 1. I know I have a free summer and all, but I'm not sure that'll allow me enough time to properly fangirl and book-push, they are THAT great. Also, 2. I'm kinda DEFINITELY rusty on writing reviews (not that I was hella good to begin with, but y'know) and I'm not sure I can do them justice. WHAT IS ELOQUENCE? You've read far enough, you know what I mean.

So.

New Favorite Series OF ALL TIME(!!!)


The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
Book One: Finnikin of the Rock | Book Two: Froi of the Exiles | Book Three: Quintana of Charyn

I know Melina Marchetta is really acclaimed (with good reason) for her contemporaries, and though I really really love them too, THIS SERIES RIGHT HERE IS *~*MAGICK*~* I swear. After reading this completely epic story, I was unsure I could go back to reading current popular fantasies, fearing they'd pale in comparison. (Warning: they totally do.) Melina Marchetta is a genius and i love her words so, so much. I may have even bought multiple copies, including the new (super-expensive-for-American-Me) Australian versions because PERF. Read this series if you haven't already, I swear if there's any book recommendation I give that I'd like to have influence over anyone, it's this one.

New Favorite YA Fantasy


The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh
Book One: The Wrath and the Dawn | Book Two: The Rose and the Dagger

When I learned this was a spin on the tale One Thousand and One Nights, I HAD to read it, though I was scared it wouldn't be my thing since I'm pretty picky when it comes to retellings. Well, I'm totally glad I did because omgggg did it give me alllll the feeeeelings!! The romance is epic and swoon-worthy and our heroine, Shazi, is super smart and sassy and strong and everything I like. I'm sure you all have devoured this series as I did, it's a total new smoking' fave. GIVE ME MORE.

New Favorite YA Historical/Alternate History


Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

HOLY SMOKES WAS THIS AMAZING! I'm kind of a WWII freak and one of my favorite films ever is Inglorious Basterds bc AMAZING, so when this book was first announced I--no lie--marked my calendar with its release straight away, I was so pumped for it. That October, school/mid-terms had me totally swamped, but I finally read it over Christmas break and was almost mad that I did just because the wait for the conclusion, Blood for Blood, would be torturous. AND IT TOTALLY IS! (So LBYR & NOVL, if you're feeling generous with an ARC, I AM HERE WITH OPEN ARMS). Cannot wait to see what happens and how it all ends!

New Favorite Contemporaries


The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan | How To Kill A Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo

Fun Fact time! I totally love Kate Middleton. I followed the royal engagement and even set my alarm to wake up and watch the wedding on April 29, 2011. Needless to say, I was all over this book's release but I'm not sure I was even convinced I'd genuinely like it. I was buying because hellooo, this is my every day daydream and Kate Middleton's real life here! But I loved it, and it surprised me in all the best ways. It's the kind of book I'll come back to on a lazy day or when I need a pick-me-up read that's guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

I read God-Shaped Hole a few years ago and I'm still not fully healed, tbh. If you're a masochist in search of a book to beautifully and cruelly destroy you, there you go. HTKAR was just as good, but far less aggressive towards my heart. Don't get me wrong, my emotions definitely suffered and I was allll over the place when SOMETHING happens around the two-thirds(ish) mark, but fear not! The end is satisfying. Forever eagerly awaiting anything else Tiffanie DeBartolo releases.


***

So that concludes my updated favorites! For now, anyway. Hopefully, if I discover anything new to add this summer, you can learn about it in real time on here, or on Goodreads and Twitter, where I'll always be active even when this blog is sometimes not. Let me know if any of these titles are your favorites too, or if you have any thoughts on them!

Summer 2016 TBR

Long time, no blog, I KNOW. I'm probably the worst of the worst, but at least I'm sorta kinda active on Twitter...? Maybe.

Anyway, I'm here now and with a plan and goal to read and blog as much as I can this summer since I'm free from school and any sucky part-time jobs that normally ruin everything, including my productivity. (The irony isn't lost on me.)

The following list is my summer TBR (feel free to let me know of anything we have in common, or your thoughts on books you may have read)!


New releases by authors I L-O-V-E:
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
When We Collided by Emery Lord

The Unfinished Series:
Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Backlist titles by authors I L-O-V-E:
All-American Girl & Ready Or Not by Meg Cabot
The Moon and More & Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman

*sidenote: I'm pretty sure it's considered a crime that I've yet to read the above titles when the above women are 98% of the reason why I read today. I AM SORRY AND I WILL RECTIFY.

Oldies (but hopefully goodies?):
The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson
Golden by Jessi Kirby
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Possible (or probable) Re-reads:
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (because annual traditions)
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

^^The new Beauty and the Beast trailer is giving me tonnnnns of FEELS!!!



I also plan to read a few ARCs I've acquired on kindle, but this summer is mostly about R&R and playing catch-up. WILL UPDATE SOON! (I SWEAR, I EVEN HAVE A DRAFT READY!)


***