Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Fixer (Book Review)

Thursday, July 30, 2015 10:33 AM with 1 comment

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The Fixer

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: July 7, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: :

This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.


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My Thoughts:

I don't watch the show Scandal, but as soon as I saw the synopsis for this book I thought: well, it was only a matter of time before a YA author figured out how to cash in on the show's success. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it slightly unoriginal/contrived. If you can look past the obvious: This is Scandal for the YA crowd vibe, however (which I could), what you get is a fun and entertaining--albeit, fairly implausible--book.

Tess Kendrick is sixteen. She has spent almost her entire life living on a Mountain West ranch with her grandfather after the death of her parents when she was a toddler. Her grandfather is battling with Alzheimers, and Tess knows they probably can not go on living the way that they have. Her sister Ivy, who is seventeen years her senior, has always been a bit of a mystery, and hasn't been around at all for the last several years. So Tess is a bit resentful when Ivy sweeps onto the ranch and takes Tess away to live with her in Washington DC while placing their grandfather in a specialized home in Boston. 

In our nation's capital, Tess's life is completely different than the one she is used to have. She now goes to a posh private school that is filled with the children of those that run our county. She soon finds out through those students that her sister is a "fixer"--somebody in Washington who gathers secrets on the rich and powerful and who makes problems disappear. The students at Hardwicke Academy assume that Tess is following in her sister's footsteps and begin to bring their problems to Tess to help them solve--even more so when she actually does help solve the VP's daughter's problem in her first week at her new school. 

Soon the main problem/issue of the book arises: a supreme court justice dies and the daughter of the president's doctor, who Tess has befriended, thinks he may have something to do with it. So begins the unraveling of a conspiracy involving more people than Tess can fathom, and a rollicking ride that is fun and fast-paced throughout. 

I really enjoyed the author's The Naturals (although I have yet to read the sequel), although I was a little disappointed in the love triangle that book/series has. So I was so happy when this book read just as quickly, but was sans any romance. There is definitely the possibility to romance in this series, but I loved that it was void of one here. This allowed for both more character development, and for the plot to stay action-focused. 

I really loved all of the characters in this one, too. I loved that Tess was strong and independent. I loved that she loved the grandfather that raised her, and that she is willing to stand up for the little guy/gal when she can see that they are getting shafted. I also really liked her sister and the two men in her life: Adam and Bodie. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. Again, it's pretty unrealistic, but as long as you can just go with it--which I could--it is a fun, quick, and easy ride. Excited to read the next one. 

Recommended, especially for those that like quick, action-filled contemporaries.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.


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Essential Maps for the Lost

Author: Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 5, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From beloved author and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti comes a fresh and luminous novel about the grief that can tear us apart and the people who can make us whole again.

When Madison makes a startling discovery, the body of a dead woman floating in the middle of a lake, the summer after her senior year becomes more complicated than she ever expected.

Madison (Mads to everyone who knows her) is staying with her aunt and uncle in Seattle after graduating from high school. Being away from her needy, unstable mother who's been pressuring her to take over the family business is such a relief. Now all Mads has to worry about is taking classes, swimming laps, and fighting off the sadness that threatens to overtake her.

That is, until the traumatic moment Mads collides with a body in the middle of the lake. After swimming the body back to shore, Mads becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of the woman and what drove her to leap off of the Aurora Bridge. Determined to discover more, Mads parks outside the woman's home and sees the woman's son: the sweet and tormented Billy Youngwolf Floyd.

Through a series of not-so-happenstance meetings, Mads and Billy realize that desperate mothers and rescue missions are not the only thing that bonds them. Billy carries a map in his pocket, the one of the museum from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and it's his dream to visit the museum one day. And though book-loving Mads is expected to return home to her already-decided future, her dream is to run away to a life of her choosing.

As the unlikely pair fall hard for each other and as the summer draws to a close, Billy and Mads must decide whose story to follow: their family's or their own.



Why I'm Excited:
Despite owning, like, five books by this author, I have yet to read anything by her. I seriously need to make a dent in my I-own-it pile before buying, downloading, or borrowing more. Anyhoo...this sounds intriguing. It sounds sweet and serious at the same time. The synopsis kind of reminds me of Golden, which I loved. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for this one. 

What are you waiting for on this Wednesday? Link me up!

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin. (I like to follow back, so please let me know if you're a new follower--and leave a link!) Thank you!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekly Rewind 7.25.15

Friday, July 24, 2015 11:24 PM with 9 comments
Image result for natflixandbooks



Weekly Rewind
The new books on my shelves and my week in a nutshell.




 

Since I started this blog I've participated in Stacking the Shelves, which is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews, and I'm going to continue linking to that meme. Throughout my student teaching semester I was using my weekend post as a way to let people know what's going on in my life, so I've decided to rename my weekend post because this feature is more personal than just what books I've received. The Weekly Rewind will be about what's going on with me and my blog, as well as about the books I've added to my shelves.

Life and Blog

Life: Where is summer going!?! Why can't, say, March go as quickly as July does? So unfair. I might actually have some news for y'all next week...but I can't say any more today. I'm doing well. I'm just enjoying my time at home with my husband and cats. Sleeping in almost every day (mornings are going to be brutal in just a couple of weeks), watching TV, hanging out with my friends, getting some reading done. Summer. Summers are awesome.

Blog and reading: This week my WoW featured a new YA mystery coming out next spring. I also posted a new Why, Publishers, Why?! that focuses on a re-issue change. As far as reading, I did finish The Fixer a couple of days ago, and have started reading The Cuckoo's Calling and re-reading Me and Earl and the Dying Girl so I can watch the movie. I've also cautiously started The Boy Most Likely To (although it hasn't really been my focus). I keep trying to decide if I need to re-read My Life Next Door first...I think I've decided that I don't. I remember the characters well enough to enjoy it without re-reading it--especially since it isn't an actual sequel. 

New books: I have a pile of books to show you today that I'm excited about. So without further adieu, I hope you are all having fabulous weekends! 

For Review

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 The Night Sister 25868559 25757649

I was immediately drawn to this charming cover. I hope what's inside is as cute.  
It's About Love by Steve Camden
Per GR: "He's Luke. She's Leia. Just like in Star Wars. Just like they’re made for each other. Same film studies course, different backgrounds, different ends of town." I'm a Star Wars nerd, so this sounds right up my alley. 
After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga (and others) 
A post-apocalyptic novel featuring a strong heroine. Because that's, like, the thing if you didn't know. 
Trust No One by Paul Cleave
A famous mystery author has confessed to the crimes in all of his books...but no one believes him because he has early-onset Alzheimers. I love a good, dark mystery, and this sounds intriguing. 
From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan
I'm not exactly sure what this YA thriller is about. I know it has a cooking competition, a dead sister, and a stalker leaving notes. Has anybody read this one yet?  
School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCoullaugh
The name says it all, I think. Looks fun. 
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
About a creepy hotel and three girls who grew up together. I've never read anything by this author, but I've heard good things. 
Girl World by Patricia Ottaviano 
I don't talk about it that often, but my dream is to one day be an author. Not necessarily YA, but the book will undoubtedly contain at least one teenage girl. Because of that, I love to read non-fiction books about adolescents today. It also helps with my day job.
The Cannibals by Cynthia Grant
A new boy in school with the last name Cannibal shows up in town and a director wants to film a horror movie in the high school. Sounds fun.

What I bought


The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
I'm FINALLY reading this. 
I read this when it first came out, but wanted to re-read it before I watch the movie. Also, I remember loving it, so might as well own it. 

What I snagged from the library

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Young Elites by Marie Lu
I've heard great things about this author, but haven't read anything by her yet. I love this cover. 
Ex Machina
This looks pretty interesting. Anybody seen it?

Well that's it for me this week. Feel free to leave a link to whatever weekend post you do (Stacking the Shelves, In My Mailbox, etc). I love to see what books people have recently snagged and especially enjoy hearing about my fellow bloggers' weeks. I hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why, Publishers, Why?! (Episode 10)

Thursday, July 23, 2015 1:08 PM with 2 comments
crying animated GIF 

My biggest pet peeve is when beautiful HBs turn into lackluster PBs. I completely understand that publishers may choose to change the cover due to various reasons, low sales especially, but the thing for me is: I don't buy new hardcover books. Ever. I can't afford them and I just simply prefer soft covers. Trade PB has always been my preferred format. So when I'm salivating over a HB cover only to have it change before it comes out in PB, it makes me CRAZY. Publishers would probably make MORE money on PB sales if they kept the amazing HB covers!

That's why I call this post:

Why, Publishers, Why?!
Today's Pick: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

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This post will be a bit different than normal because THANKFULLY this isn't a hardback to paperback change, but a original to re-issue change. I read this book back in 2012 when it first came out and loved it. It is funny and original and just awesome. When I found out it was being made into a movie, I was excited, but knew I needed to re-read it because over 3 years is way too long for my book-memory. I was pretty bummed when I found out that with the movie also came two new covers the movie tie-in (below) which is to be expected, but also this yellow cover as the re-issue. Honestly, it isn't the worst cover ever, but WHY would you change this magnificent, colorful, amazing cover that already exists? It makes no sense to me. Luckily, I was able to find the paperback in the original cover this week (which is why this post is happening months after the re-issue...). 

Has anybody seen the movie yet? It looks good...although if memory serves me correctly (which it might, you know, not), there was no romance in this book like there seems to be in the movie. This wasn't The Fault in Our Stars Part II, or anything.

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(Honestly, as far as movie tie-ins go, this isn't that bad)

Which one do you prefer? The HB or the PB? Neither? The awesome, why can't this be the American version? Sound off below!

 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (108) The Darkest Corners

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 11:23 PM with 13 comments
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.


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The Darkest Corners

Author: Kara Thomas
Publisher:  Delacorte
Release Date: April 19, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the face of her demons–and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie haven’t talked about what they saw that summer night since it happened. After the trial Callie drifted and Tessa moved and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa’s had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette–to Wyatt Stokes sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the only other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer–and this time, it won’t be as easy to run away.


Why I'm Excited:
I love me a good mystery, and this sounds intriguing. Points for the PA location, too. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for this one.
What are you waiting for on this Wednesday? Link me up!

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin. (I like to follow back, so please let me know if you're a new follower--and leave a link!) Thank you!!!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Weekly Rewind 7.18.15

Friday, July 17, 2015 11:12 PM with 10 comments
Image result for natflixandbooks



Weekly Rewind
The new books on my shelves and my week in a nutshell.




 

Since I started this blog I've participated in Stacking the Shelves, which is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews, and I'm going to continue linking to that meme. Throughout my student teaching semester I was using my weekend post as a way to let people know what's going on in my life, so I've decided to rename my weekend post because this feature is more personal than just what books I've received. The Weekly Rewind will be about what's going on with me and my blog, as well as about the books I've added to my shelves.

Life and Blog

Life: FOR REAL, every time I turn around it is Friday and time to type up another weekly post. Time has never gone so quickly as it has this summer. I'm already down to just three weeks *sobs*. I have lots of fun stuff planned for these last couple of weeks, though. Got to make the most of it, right?

Blog and reading: This week my WoW post featured a book coming out next summer about a friendship break-up. I also wrote a review for Melissa McCarthy's newest film Spy. I finished reading Modern Love by Aziz Ansari and am almost finished with The Fixer. I hope to have reviews for both up next week, but I'm going to be out of town tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday, so that might not happen. We'll see.

New books: I got all kinds of books to show you this week. My favorite store, Half Price Books, has this enormous clearance sale once a year in a convention center...and it was today. I got away with only a (ahem) smallish pile. I literally had to give myself a stern talking to a couple of times: "c'mon, do you really need to own that?" and so on. So without further adieu, I hope you are all having fabulous weekends!

For Review

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Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton
Per GR: "In an abandoned house, the ghosts gather. They argue, they laugh, and they tell their stories. Some tell their own stories, some tell stories they have heard elsewhere. Some of them are true, some are not. But each tale draws you closer. One by one, the storytellers depart, until suddenly it's just you and the narrator, alone in the dark..." Doesn't that sound amazing?
A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskovitz
I don't have the best history with faerie books, and this one isn't getting the best reviews, so my hopes aren't too high...
All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder
The world is ending and it's the last day on earth. This seems to be a fairly popular theme lately.  
If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison
I'm such a sucker for books about somebody who gets to go back into time--especially back into their teenage selves--to change their lives. It's been done--a lot--but I've read another book by the author and enjoyed it. 
How to be a Grown-Up by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin
I'm seriously a glutton for punishment. I've only kind of liked a couple of their books and downright despised their last one (that I read, it might not have been their last), but I totally downloaded this anyway...

What I Bought




I'm not linking these
Audiobooks:
The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Books: 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
Size Twelve and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger by Beth Harbison
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt
Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor 
Movies:
Ten Things I Hate About You
Step Brothers
The Dark Knight
Some Jillian Michaels DVD that will probably never actually make it into my DVD player...
  
 

I also bought Enchanted Forest which is one of those amazing adult coloring books that everybody seems to be raving about. I've already spent a couple of hours with this and am IN LOVE. 

What I snagged from the library

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The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
I don't watch Scandal, but you knew it was only a matter of time before somebody figured out how to make the concept YA-friendly. I read over half of this the first day I opened it. It's certainly interesting, and I'm hoping to finish it this weekend.
The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth
This book about a girl who is friends with the Brothers Grimm looks so interesting, but it is also scary long and I doubt I'll be able to get to it in the couple of weeks I have left. 

Well that's it for me this week. Feel free to leave a link to whatever weekend post you do (Stacking the Shelves, In My Mailbox, etc). I love to see what books people have recently snagged and especially enjoy hearing about my fellow bloggers' weeks. I hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Spy (Movie Review)

Thursday, July 16, 2015 1:12 PM with 4 comments


Spy

 
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, and Rose Byrne
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Release Date: May 22, 2015
Rated: R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity.




My Thoughts: 

As much as I like and admire Melissa McCarthy, her comedy isn't always for me. I absolutely adored her in Bridesmaids and love it when she hosts SNL, but I couldn't even watch Identity Thief, and haven't even bothered watching Tammy. That said, I was pretty excited to see this when I found out that Paul Feig (who directed Bridesmaids and created the 90s show Freaks and Geeks) both wrote and directed this comedy that star both McCarthy and Byrne.

Spy follows an unassuming woman named Susan Cooper (McCarthy), who while a full-blown CIA agent, spends her time in the "basement" being the eyes and ears of superstar agent Bradley Fine (Law). She is smitten by Fine, who smoozes her with his charm because, as his eyes and ears, she really makes him the superstar that he is. After accidentally killing the only man who knows where a deadly bomb is, Fine tracks down the man's daughter, Rayna, and sneaks into her house. Rayna, in turn, shoots Fine in the head while Susan, through Fine's eye contact's camera, sees the whole thing.

 

The CIA soon finds out that Rayna knows every undercover agent they have, so they need to find someone who she would never suspect of being an agent. This is where Susan comes in. She is finally going to get her chance to become an undercover agent and reach her full potential instead of just being the woman behind the man.

Spy is pretty funny. I went to the movie with a girl friend and both of us laughed out loud throughout the film. While Susan's hoping to get glamorous undercover identities like all the other agents, she is stuck with identities like super-cat lady and soccer mom. She is also told to observe only, but is thrown deeper into the mix when rouge agent Ford (Statham) gets in the way.



 

Speaking of Statham, he was easily one of my favorite characters in the film. He is absolutely hilarious in this, which was a surprise. Trying to seem tougher than he is, he is always making up these outlandishly ridiculous stories of the things he's survived--like the time he had to drink over 100 poisons. He and McCarthy play off each other well throughout the film, too, and have great comedic energy.

Honestly, all of the actors are spot on. Byrne, as the bad guy, has this ridiculous hairstyle and evil smirk. She is also painfully thin in this film. Growing up I was super skinny, so I'm sensitive to this and definitely don't condone body-shaming in any capacity, but I was alarmed by how tiny she is in the film. Anyway, Alison Janey (LOVE) is awesome as the no-nonsense CIA director, and Law is well-cast in his small part of roguish spy.


There were a few misses for me. There is a running gag that the basement of the CIA has a rodent problem, with rats running everywhere, which is super unfunny, but for the most part, I really enjoyed this film. If you enjoy McCarthy's brand of humor, this is a no-brainer, but even if you don't, this spy spoof is worth checking out. 

Official Trailer