Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Readalong: Away Laughing on a Fast Camel


I can't believe we're already on the fifth book of the Georgia Nicholson Readalong! (More on Paper Trail Diary's idea here.) I had been feeling a bit blah about the series for the last couple of books - mostly getting more annoyed with Georgia's immaturity and wondering if anything was actually going to happen in the books. Happily, I found myself getting back into the groove with Away Laughing on a a Fast Camel. Sure there are still many issues but I had more fun reading this one than I had with the last couple.

Here's the synopsis:
The Sex God has left the country, taking Georgia's heart with him. So she decides to display glaciosity to all boys -- a girl can only have her heart broken so many times.
Until she meets Masimo, the new singer for the Stiff Dylans. The Sex God is gone, but here comes the Dreamboat, and Georgia's away laughing on a fast camel (whatever that means).
I remember always liking Dave the Laugh when I first read the books but I'm not liking him as much as I used to. I know I'm older now so that has a lot to do with it, but it's still frustrating to read about a boy telling a girl he clearly likes that his Cosmic Horn (basically: liking and wanting to snog many individuals instead of dating and snogging just one person) is due to his teenage boy hormones. I mean, he's not lying, but he just keeps falling back on the "I'm a teenager! I'm full of hormones! My need to date and make out with everyone is not my fault!" and it gets a bit tiresome. I do, however, appreciate that he realizes Mark (who Georgia dated briefly back in book one) was way off base when he tried to shame Georgia and called her a tease for not wanting to have sex with him when all they were doing was kissing.

Actually, this is a moment I want to explore more. To set the scene a little bit: Georgia had run into Mark and he told her to meet him later that evening. She goes even though she doesn't have any particular feelings for him. They end up kissing and then Mark sticks his hand down Georgia's shirt:
[I]t gave me such a shock that I jumped back and Mark was left off balance; he stumbled into the bushes. He came out a minute later covered in twigs. He didn't look pleased.
He said, "What did you do that for?"
I said, "Well. Er, it was all a bit...I don't know that I want you to..."
He lit a fag and said, "What did you come here for...a chat?"
I said, "Well...I..."
What did I come here for? Very good question. Excellent point, well made. Boredom mostly, I suppose. I didn't think I should say that. Mark seemed really angry. He said, 'Do you go all the way or not?'
I said, "Well, no I..."
Mark started walking off. "Girls like you make me sick."
And he was gone. I was left at the top the hill alone. What had I done now? I felt really weird. And lonely.
I'm glad Rennison included a scene like this in the book because it's something that happens in real life. What I don't love is that Georgia doesn't get to have a moment where she realizes that it's not her fault. She didn't do anything, even though she thinks she has. Mark's anger is never discussed and the whole problem is dealt with by Dave beating Mark up. Maybe I'm expecting too much of a YA book but I just feel that the whole situation could have been dealt with better. Which brings me to another issue that's tied into this one...

Georgia is starting to worry that she's doing something to lead on boys (again: she's not. She just apparently attracts idiots. But who doesn't when they're in high school?). It doesn't help that Jas, Georgia's very best friend, continues to have troubling views on this matter. She kinda sorta slut shames Georgia and it drives me bananas. Kissing lots of boys is not a problem and I hate that Georgia's friend is making it seem like it is. (OK, I might be projecting a bit because I definitely kissed a lot of boys in high school and I know some of my friends thought negatively of me. This may be the only thing from high school I have yet to let go of...11 years after graduation...lol.) Anyway. I don't like to see girls judging other girls like this, especially not when they're supposed to be best friends.

I found myself giggling a lot more in this book than I had with the last couple. I don't have any specific examples, since I was read a lot of this book at the gym (it's hard to take pics of good lines when you're doing cardio, let me tell you). Georgia continues to come up with the most outlandish ideas (like spying on The Stiff Dylans and their new singer during their rehearsal and having to tuck her skirt into her knickers when she climbs a box to look into the venue) and has tons of cringeworthy moments (note to self: never reapply eyelash glue while out at a concert otherwise you might end up sticking your eyelashes together).

Overall, I definitely had fun reading Away Laughing on a Fast Camel and am feeling excited about this readalong again. Yay! Coming up next is Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers. We'll be chatting about book five on July 5...and hopefully reminding myself that the "he" who ate the boy entrancers (fake eyelashes, as we learned in book four), was Georgia's cat Angus or kitten Gordy and not any human he.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: One True Loves


I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest book, One True Loves, a few months back. I had put off reading it because I knew it was going to be great and I knew I'd be sad once it was over. Finally the perfect reading moment presented itself: the afternoon of my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I read the book in essentially one sitting and I absolutely adored it. Jenkins Reid has written another stunning novel.

Here's the synopsis of One True Loves
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fianc√©, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.
Jenkins Reid always (well, I say always even though I still haven't read her first two novels...I even own them...there are zero excuses) writes about some element of marriage and relationships that I feel other authors shy away from. In her latest book, Emma is put in an impossible situation. How on earth do you even begin to figure out where your head and heart are at when your presumed dead husband shows up a few months before your second wedding? How do you deal with having a husband and a fianc√©? I think Emma handles it pretty well. It's messy and pretty much everyone gets hurt...but I think she did the best she could have in that situation. (Vague? Yes. Just read the book.)

I liked how the book was written. Right off the bat you find out that Emma is engaged and then gets a phone call from her husband. Then we go back in time to when Emma was a teen and first meets Jesse. The book moves forward in stages (like, Before: Emma and Jesse, Or how to fall in love and fall to pieces) until you get to a few weeks after the phone call from the start of the novel. I liked that we got the main bombshell right away and then Jenkins Reid pulled back to give context. It drives me bonkers when there's supposed to be a big secret and then it's finally revealed and I'm all, "Yeah. I know. I figured this out 100 pages ago. Move on." (That doesn't always happen of course but there are genres where bombshells work and authors who are better at revealing and concealing. I haven't found many chick lit/contemporary/women's fiction authors who do it well.) 

One True Loves took hold of my heart right away and did not let go...not even after I finished the last page. I was so incredibly invested in Emma's life and I wished I could hop into the book and find a way to ease the pain she, Sam, and Jesse were all feeling. I loved that I felt everything the characters were feeling in this book (and yes, I did find myself tearing up a time or two). I loved the story, I love the cover, I love pretty much everything about this book. I think everyone should read it at some point this summer. Either on the beach or in the backyard or at the cottage. Anywhere. Just read it. 

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Readalong: Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants


We're back with another installment in the Georgia Nicolson Readalong! Last time, when reading Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas, I found myself getting more and more frustrated with Georgia. I don't know if I was in a better mood or was just able to monitor my annoyance better but I found Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants to be more enjoyable. Learn more about the readalong on The Paper Trail Diary.

Here's the synopsis of the fourth book in the series:
Since Georgia's been dating the yummy scrumboes Sex God, Robbie, her glossy lips are always at the ready, and her "red-bottomosity" is kept under wraps. Along with Naomi the Sex Kitten's new litter (thank you, Angus), Robbie's announcement that his band will be traveling to Hamburger-a-gogo land (Georgia can only hope to go with), and a class trip to France, Georgia is one camper in a state of teenage splendiosity. The small trouble is, Georgia also wonders if Dave the Laugh might still be the guy for her, and when Robbie gives a surprise-ending twist to his travel plans, she gets a "weird feeling of reliefosity" that makes her wonder if she must venture out and bravely use her "red bottom wisely."
As Jess mentions in her review, not a whole heck of a lot happened in this book. Of course, in the mind of a teenager, SO MUCH IS HAPPENING. Her Sex God boyfriend might be going to America with his band but she can't keep her teenager lips off Dave the Laugh. There's also a field trip to France with her class and the good looking male French teacher. But...that's about it. Was it a huge problem? No. Not really. I still blazed through the book in one afternoon and didn't think about the lack of plot or events until well after the fact. (Blazed is appropriate as I was an idiot and read outside with no sunscreen on our holiday Monday...I might be a bit burnt...) 

Georgia plays field hockey for her school and in this book is made team captain. And then, because she acts like the immature 15 year old that she is and irritates the caretaker yet again, she has the captainship taken away. I would have liked Georgia to really think about why she was no longer allowed to be the captain. You can tell when you're reading that she's upset but isn't fully sure why she's upset. Her parents never even find out - I don't know if they even knew she was captain in the first place. But, shortly after she gets sacked from the captain's job, in a fit of rare "maturosity", Georgia and the rest of the ace gang "snitch" on the two mean girls who essentially caused two other girls to get suspended for shoplifting. Clearly there's some correlation between the two events even if Georgia doesn't realize what it is yet.

One of the phrases that stuck in my head when I first read this series made its first appearance in this book:
[Dave] explained that "having the Horn" means fancying people. And it's got various stages. "You can have the Specific Horn, when you fancy one person. Then if it gets worse you get the General Horn, which is when you fancy loads of people. But worst of all is the Cosmic Horn."
He was making me laugh and feel funny at the same time, but I couldn't help asking, "What in the name of Lucifer's bottom is the Cosmic Horn?"
"That's when you fancy everything and everyone in the universe."
Blimey.
My friends and I used Specific, General, and Cosmic Horn all the time when we were teens (it may have been implied I had Cosmic Horn...so what if I had crushes on all sorts of boys? lol). I would love to know how Rennison came up with some of these ideas!

The next book in the series is Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (aka one of my favourite phrases from the series). The review posts will go up on June 14. I can't quite remember what happens next so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm going to leave you with the pic I posted on Instagram on Monday because it was a gorgeous day and I was so happy to finally be reading outside!

Review of book one, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Release Blitz: Smut


Happy release day to Karina Halle! Her latest novel, Smut, hits e-retailers today and you (and I) need to buy it immediately. I've been reading Halle's books for awhile now, both new releases and some of her backlist, and I've loved all of the ones I've read. As you probably can guess, I'd rather read a contemporary story (rather than a dark, scary one) and it's a bonus when it's got some heat and humour. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped when I learned Halle's next book was going to be a romantic comedy. Smut is out now and you can bet I'm going to be buying it as soon as it goes live!

Here's the synopsis:
What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?
All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.
What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also might find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.
When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership together using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot but at least there’s make-up sex now.
But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed or are happily-ever- afters just a work of fiction?
I'm so intrigued by this storyline and hope you are too!

Now hold onto your hats because I have an excerpt for you too. Enjoy!

She holds my gaze for a moment and something passes over her. Regret, maybe. Then she nods. “Sit down. Let’s work.”

And so we do. And for the first time in a long time, it’s strained. I’m about to suggest maybe we need the Estonian vodka anyway when she lets out an exasperated sigh over something she’s reading.

It happens to be something I wrote.

“What?” I ask, wondering what I did wrong.

She gives me the are you kidding me? look. “Okay, I was ignoring it earlier but I think you need to get a grip on some of this shit. This simply does not happen.”

“Explain, please.”

“I just think it’s unrealistic for there to be so much talking, let alone the fact that the first time they do it it’s in a public place.”

“Too much talking?”

“Yeah.” she scans over the document. “You know, give me your cock, oh you feel so good, harder, harder, you’re so big, fuck me harder big boy.”

“Have you even had good sex?” I ask incredulously.

She flinches. “Of course I have. And it’s none of your business.”

“We’re writing about sex. It’s completely my business. I’m not letting you interject your edits based on your personal experiences about sex because believe me, if the sex is good, you’re moaning my name.”

She raises her chin. “Maybe all those girls were faking it.”

Oh, brilliant.

“Excuse me?” I say, hands pressed against the table, nearly getting out of my chair. “You have no idea. I pride myself in giving a girl as many bloody orgasms as she can handle.”

“Bloody orgasms don’t sound like fun,” she jokes softly.

“They can be if you’re into knife play,” I tell her, even though that’s not exactly what I meant. Still, she scrunches up her nose. “Don’t knock it until you try it, but that’s neither here nor there. When you were with Alan, he must have made you come at least a few times.”

If he didn’t, I feel like finding the guy and showing him a thing or two for wasting four years of her life.

“Yeah,” she says flatly.

“And in the middle of that orgasm, didn’t you want to yell a few things?”

“Sometimes.”

“And why didn’t you?”

She looks at her nails as if they’re suddenly fascinating. “It didn’t seem right. It was…too intimate. I would have felt dumb. He didn’t like any of that stuff.”

The plot thickens. “Any of what stuff?”

“Sex that didn’t involve the missionary position or the bed.”

My mouth drops open. My brain and penis can’t compute this. “I feel so sorry for you.”

We must remedy this.

She glares at me. “It’s not like I didn’t want to do it. I did. And he did try it. Most of it. But it always went back to the same old.”

I knew it. She’s a nerd on the streets and a freak in the sheets.

“I don’t mean to brag,” I tell her in all seriousness. “But you do realize that I could give you an orgasm in thirty seconds.”

Her eyes widen. I can’t tell if she’s horrified or intrigued. “I don’t believe you and I don’t want you to try.”

She’s not getting it. I frown, trying to explain. “If you’re having good sex and it’s with someone you’re comfortable with, you won’t worry about holding back. You’ll cry out all the nonsense you want, you’ll make noises like a pig and scream like you’re on fire because you truly can’t have a good orgasm unless you’re letting go on all accounts.” I lean back in my chair and study her, running my fingers along my jaw. “I would venture that every time you came with your ex, you were only experiencing half of what you should have been. How is it with your vibrators?”

I expect her to tell me to fuck off, that I’m getting too personal but to my surprise she gives me a small smile. “It’s better. But I do have a roommate with exceptionally good hearing.” She clears her throat. “Anyway, so I guess I’m wrong. The heroine can make all the noise she wants.”

“And have first time sex in public.”

“I don’t know…”

“Believe me, when you finally get a chance to fuck, you don’t care where it is. That’s why I always have a condom in my pocket. And the more public the sex, the sneakier you have to be, the hotter it is.”

“But in the book you would never get caught.”

“You don’t always get caught in real life too.”

I can see she wants to ask me where I’ve done it but she loses her nerve. “Okay.” She looks back to the document. “I accept defeat.”

But I don’t want her to. I want to prove to her I’m right and not have her take my word.

Is there a non-creepy way to show her just how amazing good sex can feel? I’m thinking not.

Or…maybe there is.

About Karina:
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Blog Tour: Dare to Take


I love a good, steamy, enjoyable romance every once and awhile. Actually, who am I kidding? I enjoy them as often as I can in between some of the other books I have to review. Because I've read two of Carly Phillips' Dare to Love books before, I knew I wanted to read Dare to Take, the latest (and possibly last...but don't quote me on that) in the series. It was exactly what I was looking for and I devoured it in one day.

Here's the synopsis:
A one-night stand.
A secret.
A mistake they tried to forget.
 On leave from the army, Tyler Dare is just looking for a little fun, but his sister's best friend is off limits. Yet unable to deny how sexy and alluring she is, he finds it all too easy to succumb to a night of passion and heat that ends the next morning in the worst way possible.
 There are just some guys you don't touch-- even someone as innocent and inexperienced as Ella Shaw knows that. But when her best friend's brother is up for grabs and willing, she can't resist. After all, she's wanted him for years...
 Now, Ella is stranded on a tropical island with a hurricane bearing down, and only Tyler can save her. It's his chance to make amends for the past and show the woman he's never forgotten that he's coming after her...in more ways than one.
I really liked Ella. She's a smart, strong woman who's fiercely independent and an amazing friend. That independence comes from a less than ideal childhood and is actually one of Ella's flaws. It's hard for her to accept help and accept the fact that some people, like Avery, her best friend, and Tyler, Avery's brother, want to help her and think the world of her. For most of the novel Ella is unable to let her issues go and that causes huge problems with Tyler, who wants nothing more than to make sure Ella is taken care of. The issues Ella had to work through made so much sense based on her past and, even though it was annoying when they created roadblocks in her relationship with Tyler, it was still easy to love her and hope for a picture perfect Happily Ever After.

Ella and Tyler had crazy chemistry and I loved reading and waiting for them to finally get together (again). It wasn't just chemistry between the sheets, either. (Though those scenes were definitely enjoyable.) Once the two started to put aside and work through their issues, you could tell they had a solid foundation for a relationship - which is probably why they both quickly realized that whatever they were doing was more than "just sex". 

The one thing I find awkward about companion series like this one are the sheer number of names and characters tossed around. Because Dare to Take is so late in the series, everyone else is already coupled up and having babies, adding even more names into the mix! There was also this odd character whose full name was mentioned and Ella had one conversation with and we never hear from again. As far as I could tell, the only reason Jillian Novak is brought into the story is because Ella needed someone who wasn't Avery to vent to about Tyler. I did wonder if she was a character in another of Phillips' novels. (A quick Google search returns nothing but it could be the character was named after Jill Shalvis and Brenda Novak - two other romance authors.) I also wasn't a huge fan of how the next series was introduced. It seemed to forced to have Kade show up in the epilogue the way he did. But maybe I'm just being super nitpicky and thinking too much about these things.

Dare to Take wasn't my favourite out of all the Carly Phillips novels I've read. Maybe it's because everything between Ella and Tyler seemed too easy or that the problems that came up were just based on stubbornness and not communicating. I can handle that in some romance novels but something about this one didn't quite work for me. I did enjoy reading it though, I promise. I didn't want to put it down and I think a big part of that is because it's a second chance romance - one of my favourite kinds of romance novel! I don't like to think of this as the final Dare to Love book so I might actually backtrack and start reading some of the earlier ones I missed!

*A copy of this novel was provided by Rockstar PR & Literary Agency for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Readalong: Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas


To borrow a phrase from the incomparable Georgia Nicolson, erlack a pongoes! (Seriously, she does say this but I have no idea why.) I apparently forgot how to read calendars and confirm when I'm to have certain books read by. I'm a couple days late posting about Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas, the third book in the Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison and the third book in The Paper Trail Diary's Readalong.

Here's the synopsis for the third book:
Georgia Nicolson is now the girlfriend of the Sex God (aka Robbie), and things are wonderful. Except her loony parents are dragging her off to Och Aye land (aka Scotland), and the Sex God's band's chance at a record contract has left her something of a "pop widow."
Then up rears temptation in the form of old flame Dave the Laugh. Is Georgia about to become a shameless vixen? 
I've been reading these books really quickly (like...under 2 hours quickly) and I hadn't thought much of that before today. I finished Nunga-Nungas after one lunch break (30 minutes) and one workout (40 minutes on cardio aka reading machines). I'm a fast reader to begin with and these books aren't very long (under 200 pages) but that's still especially quick for a YA novel. I don't read a ton of current YA but I still think the books I do pick up are taking me longer to read and I'm not sure why. Am I reading these ones quicker because I've already read them? (Albeit 10+ years ago.) Or are they just not as deep as new YA books? I'm leaning towards the latter because, honestly, not a ton happened in this book. I'm all for quick, easy, fun reads but I don't think these books would thrill today's YA readers somehow.

Just like with the second book, I had to try really hard to remember that I was once 14 and ridiculous. I was probably unintentionally cruel to my parents and friends. But that doesn't make it easier to read. I struggle with how Georgia treats Jas, her best friend. Take this exchange for example. Jas has just told Georgia something about Tom, Jas' boyfriend:
"I nearly said, 'Who cares.' But you have to be careful with Jas because she can turn nasty if she thinks you are not interested in her." (page 26)
What Jas told her isn't particularly thrilling, I'll give you that, but I feel like a best friend shouldn't respond with "who cares" when you're talking about something of importance to you.

There were a few funny moments in this book (I was actually laughing out loud when on the bike at the gym...which got me a few weird stares). One of my all time favourite lines in the series finally showed up in this book, courtesy of, of course, Dave the Laugh. Instead of goodbye, he says, "I'm away laughing on a fast camel." My friends and I used that saying for ages after we read these books. It pretty much makes zero sense but I still love it.

I will say that I completely understand Georgia's struggle with Robbie aka the Sex God vs Dave the Laugh. Teenage girls (well...many females at any age) tend to be drawn to the popular boys - whether it's a musician like Robbie, the captain of the football team, or maybe the bad boy - even though he's not right. Georgia isn't the first girl to swoon over a good looking boy and want to date him based solely on his looks. She realizes that she acts like a bit of a loon around Robbie sometimes, but not around Dave, but, like most 15 year old girls (er...is she 15 yet? I can't remember), she doesn't realize why that matters. Snippets of maturity and self-realization are evident and it's those snippets that make me want to keep reading.

We have to talk about the whole touching of Georgia's nunga-nungas (aka basoomas aka breasts). Jess (of The Paper Trail Diary) also mentioned it in her review (read it here), and includes the full exchange between Jas and Georgia that had me cringing. Basically, a boy in Scotland (where Georgia was vacationing with her family) randomly fondled Georgia's breast. She didn't ask for it - had barely talked to the boy in question, to be honest - and despite what Jas implies, she isn't putting out any signals that makes it seem like this kind of touching would be welcome. Later in the book, Mark, a boy she dated awhile back who also touched her without her permission, makes a comment about the size of Georgia's breasts in front of his friends. I don't think I would have thought anything of this when I first read this book (likely because I had no basoomas to speak of at 15) but now? Now I feel gross reading it. (Jess used the same word and it's just the best way to describe it.) Unwanted touching and slut shaming are still things we deal with (ugh...why?) but I think (hope like hell) the conversation around these things is changing. I hope.

Overall, my thoughts on Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas are pretty mediocre. I don't love how Rennison approached a lot of things (can she stop implying being a lesbian is wrong or a reason to make fun of someone?) but I find I'm curious to see how things might change by the end of the series. Would I be as committed to finishing this readalong if the books weren't so quick and easy to read? I'm not sure. Reading time is a valuable commodity for a book blogger but curiosity is winning over the general ugh feelings I have with certain things in the books. We'll see what happens after we read Dancing in My Nuddy Pants for May 24.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything


The Unexpected Everything is Morgan Matson's newest book - just published today - and only the second book I've read by her. It's crazy because she writes exactly the kind of YA I love - contemporary, smart, funny, sweet, and real. Sarah Dessen is one of my all time favourite authors and Matson's books are a lot like Dessen's. I read Since You've Been Gone two years ago and promptly fell in love with Matson. So, I was thrilled when an ARC of her new book showed up on my mailbox. I read it last week after a hellish end to a weekend (if you follow me on Twitter you'll know our townhouse got broken into while we were away for the weekend) and it put me in such a good mood. I freaking loved The Unexpected Everything. Loved. It.

Here's the synopsis:
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? 
I think the next time an adult says they don't want to read a book about a teenager (because they're young, immature, annoying, etc.) I'm going to shove The Unexpected Everything in their face. I actually found myself forgetting Andie was in high school. Granted, it was a bit easier to do because the book took place during summer vacation and Clark was a couple of years older than she was. But it also had a lot to do with Andie's personality and the way Matson wrote her (and all of the other young characters). Andie was a pretty mature 17-almost-18 year old but she was still a teen and still acted like it at times (it would have been weirder if she hadn't acted her age). I hate when YA authors dumb down their characters because they think their audience (also teenagers) can't handle "complex" characters or storylines like you're supposed to find in an adult novel. Matson doesn't do that - she treats her readers with respect and the result is an amazing novel.

I need to talk about Bertie here for a second because his little storyline gave me some huge laughs. Important information: Bertie is a dog. A large, fluffy, white dog. First of all, I would love a white, fluffy dog. Also, I was pretty thrilled when Andie noticed a P.G. Wodehouse quote in Clark's house. I was even more thrilled when I realized the dog's name, Bertie, is a play on the name of one of the characters in Wodehouse's novels, Bertie Wooster. (If you've never heard of Jeeves and Wooster, I suggest you watch the show featuring Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. I also really need to work on reading the books asap.) Plus, me tweeting about Bertie and his name resulted in a fantastic conversation with Matson herself. I tried very hard not to fangirl or sound like an idiot. :)

I loved the friendship between Andie, Palmer, Toby, and Bri. I found it pretty realistic and made me nostalgic for high school friendships (not high school itself...no thank you). Like Andie, I was lucky and my friends and I were pretty drama-free. But, once you graduate high school, those friendships you had for the last four years become so different. Even before I had any idea the girls would encounter some problems, I found myself wondering if the four of them could survive being long distance friends. As Toby realized, sometimes you need to find out who you are apart from the friends you've had for forever. All that being said, I really liked reading the scenes with all of the girls together. It made me think about those friends from high school I'm still in touch with and what went wrong with the ones I don't really talk to anymore.

I also absolutely loved Clark. He was so smart and funny and so very right for Andie. I also found it interesting to read his interactions with Andie and her friends. Clark was homeschooled and, because of his career, he lives a fairly solitary life. Reading as he hosted his first party and how he interacted with the girls and Tom, Palmer's boyfriend, was so great. Also, the romance between he and Andie also seemed really realistic which I loved.

I really can't say enough good things about The Unexpected Everything. Morgan Matson has written an absolutely fantastic novel that every contemporary lover should pick up at some point before fall. It's the perfect summer book (I really miss summer vacations...not so much the school year though...) with characters you'll fall in love with, and a story you'll become so invested in. Even though I've only read two of Matson's books (I plan on getting to her backlist very soon), she's definitely one of my favourite YA authors.

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*