Book Review: After the Game by Abbi Glines

AtG After the Game by Abbi Glines

Published by Simon Pulse on August 22, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 320 – hardcover, 352 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

Previous Books in Series: Until Friday Night, Under the Lights

PURCHASE LINKS

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Blurb:

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl that no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgens finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?


Review:

After Under the Lights, I really really hoped that this book would be better & that my mixed feelings about UtL were just a fluke. I was relieved when — fortunately — I loved this book just as much as the first one. Of course, Until Friday Night will always remain my favorite of the series, but After the Game comes in at a close second!

All the books in this series can be read as standalones, but personally, I think you should read the first two before reading this one. This book is pretty connected to the first 2 books, and for someone who hasn’t read them, that could be confusing. In addition to that, Book 2 sets the stage for this book, so you really don’t want to miss that.

I’ll start off by saying just how much I adored Riley in this book. I’ve always wanted to read more about her; now I’ve finally got the chance to get to know her in this book! I really like how this book doesn’t shy away from the truth. Riley’s just like, “Yeah, he raped me, and I don’t care whether you believe me or not.” She didn’t give a shit about what the rest of the town thought and I loved that.

“Just because others hadn’t accepted me hadn’t made me less of a person.”

I also enjoyed catching up with the other characters, West & Maggie… Gunner & Willa… All their stories are interconnected so seeing everyone interact made me so happy, especially Riley, Maggie, and Willa. Also, can we just take a moment to talk about the real star of this book? Bryony was so adorable! I just wanted to reach out and squeeze her. She was a ray of sunshine amidst all the negativity. Somebody please give her all the cookies!

This book was very family-centered, even more so than the previous books. Riley always makes sure she puts Bryony’s needs first, and Riley herself has such an excellent support system in her family. The book didn’t focus on the rape itself so much as the aftermath. You’d think that I’d be more emotional if Riley was unhappy and depressed, but what got to me was how happy and satisfied she was to have Bryony in her life. It was honestly the sweetest thing ever.

It was also really nice getting a more in depth view of Brady’s character. I’ve always thought of him as one-dimensional and as that “nice guy”. I’m glad this book delved deeper into his character. Also, like Riley, family plays a major role in Brady’s POV. I won’t say more because that would be considered a spoiler; you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Despite the above, there were a few things that kind of weighed the book down, the first being the pacing. I expected Riley and Brady’s “friendship” to last a little while longer before they started locking lips, but that didn’t happen. I didn’t want a slow burn or anything, but a lil angst sure din’t hurt nobody… which leads me to my next point. This book, overall, was definitely less angsty than the first two. There were a few unexpected turns of events, but not many and they were far too predictable & anticlimactic. Maybe this book was more about wrapping everything up, rather than starting new drama.

Another thing worth mentioning is how Rhett got off practically scot free. I feel like he was forgiven at the end merely as a means to tie off any loose ends. That doesn’t sit well with me. What he did was a crime, so why is no one fighting it? I just find it so sad because it reflects how the world views rape and its victims.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that reading this book was bittersweet. It was like the end of an era. Our characters are all grown up! I can’t wait to see who the next book centers on. My guess is either Asa, Ryker, or Nash. Either way, I’m so pumped to read whatever comes next and follow new (and hopefully old) characters on new journeys!

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views & opinions above.

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Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

 

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Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

when dimple met rishi When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published by Simon Pulse on May 30, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 380 – hardcover, 384 – paperback, 320 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

PURCHASE LINKS

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Blurb:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This. This was the perfect cute summer romance read. Filled with dynamic characters and a very engaging plot, this book was an absolute delight to devour! I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages, and it did not disappoint at all!! I don’t know how many times I’ll be saying this in my review, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

The story is told through the alternating POVs of Dimple and Rishi. The alternating POVs allowed us to view scenes from Rishi’s cheerful, optimistic perspective and from Dimple’s cautious, realistic perspective. It’s also written in 3rd perspective – which actually didn’t detract much from the story being told!

Rishi and Dimple’s interactions were always something to behold. I reallyy loved them. Their first meeting was hilarious, and the consequent ones were equally as entertaining to read. They were such dimensional characters, and their romance was so cute! I think Dimple is an amazing heroine – she’s smart, cautious and levelheaded. She is definitely her own person. Rishi is so swoon-worthy, too! He’s adorkable and goofy and just perfect! The yang to Dimple’s yin. (Or was it the other way around? Don’t attack me.)

Rishi and Dimple’s dynamic is made even better when you throw the “arranged marriage” aspect into the mix. Typically, books pertaining to arranged marriage are always negative and depressing as hell, with the parents being depicted as evil dictators. However, in this book, that was not the case at all. Rishi and Dimple’s parents were (relatively) chill about it. They weren’t all “Get married or die!!”; they were more like “Here, we arranged a quite opportune marriage for you. You don’t have to do it, but it’d be cool if you did.” They obviously wanted what’s best for their children and didn’t try to force anything they didn’t want on them.

In addition to all of the above, the cultural aspect of the book was soo perfect! The way it was presented made me curious to know so much more! The clothes, the food, the homage to Bollywood movies… everything! Both Indian and non-Indian readers alike are sure to appreciate this.

I do admit, there were times when the story felt a little too predictable, especially towards the end when I felt like I was reading a mix of contemporary romance novels. But that definitely isn’t enough to keep me from reading.

Overall, this book had all the feels! This was a light, fun, engaging read with constant humor and swoon-worthy romance. The characters were realistic and dimensional, and the diversity was on point. The writing flowed really well with the story, and the alternating POVs offered fresh insight into the characters’ minds. I really recommend this book if you need a quick, unique read to devour and feast on!

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Under the Lights by Abbi Glines

utl

Under the Lights by Abbi Glines

Published by Simon & Schuster on August 23, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 336 – hardcover, 320 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: paperback

Rating: 3 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.

High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.

Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.

As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

Okay, so, I do admit to kinda being nervous that Under the Lights wouldn’t live up to my expectations after Until Friday Night or that it would just be too similar to the first book. I was wrong about the latter; it had a completely different feel to it than the first book. Under the Lights could probably be read as a standalone, though it’s set in the same town as Until Friday Night with the same cast of characters making cameo appearances. Reading the first book definitely isn’t a necessity, but I personally like the feeling of recognizing old characters and already being acquainted with the world and all.

Under the Lights is told in multiple points of view — three, to be exact. Brady, Willa, and Gunner used to be childhood best friends until Willa had to move away. Now she’s back, but she’s not the same. All of them aren’t. They have haunted pasts and dark secrets (you know, the package deal). I know what you’re probably thinking… love triangle? Yikes. I was a bit disheartened by that, too, but it actually wasn’t that bad. For starters, it was pretty obvious who Willa would end up with from the beginning. For me, it didn’t even take away from the book. Their relationship development still made my heart beat all the same. There wasn’t much drama about the love triangle itself as expected. Instead, the “drama” was mostly focused on each character’s individual struggles. Needless to say, there was jealousy here and there, but it didn’t stir that many problems.

The story itself was an incredibly enjoyable fast read that’ll have you wondering where the pages flew. My overall level of enjoyment of this book alone is enough to warrant it 4 stars; however, there are a few issues that did bother me enough to make me take away a whole star.

Firstly, the way every single girl character except for our MC, Willa, and the previous book’s MC (Maggie) was written irked me so.much. They were all so stereotypical and mean, and it was obvious they were written for the sole purpose of being props to the guy characters. In addition, older women like Willa’s and Gunner’s mother were such awful, conceited people and I just- arghh. What pissed me off the most was the fact that two women in this book *no spoilers* said that they’d been raped, and guess what? They were ridiculed & disbelieved by almost everyone, including some of our very own MCs.

Second, unlike the first book, the character development in this was almost nonexistent. Maggie’s character development was honestly phenomenal, but Willa? Not so much. What this book did have in abundance, though, was inner dialogue. There was lots of it. Like, it would span the length of 1-2 pages! At first, I didn’t really care or notice that much, but there were times that this inner dialogue started to get repetitive and, dare I say it, boring.

(At this point of the review, I started waffling about what to rate this book, but finally settled on 3 stars for the reasons below.)

On one hand, this was a very quick, cute, and enjoyable read – no doubt about that. The romance was able to pull me in and the love triangle (thankfully) wasn’t that obnoxious. The writing was pretty great and articulate, too. The characters made me fall in love with them, and the book made me feel so many wonderful things. I just really, really, really enjoyed this book!

On the other hand, when I start analyzing the book and delving deeper into all the technicalities, I start to find underlying issues. The way the female characters were written and how they tried to bring each other down (which is a huge pet peeve of mine), the lack of character development & abundance of internal dialogue, and the sexism.

I don’t know if the first book had the same problems as this one and I just didn’t see them, or if I was just in a really weird place while reading it, but what I do know is that both books still managed to capture a part of my heart – no matter how small.

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Rating: 3 fish

3 fish

Book Review: One by Sarah Crossan

one One by Sarah Crossan

Published by Greenwillow Books on September 15, 2015

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Pages: 448 – hardcover & paperback, 400 – ebook

Format Read: paperback

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Bloomsbury UK

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?


Review:

So, I read this book a while ago and wanted to write this review then, but unfortunately, I never had the chance to get around to it. So when I received a complimentary copy from Bloomsbury Publishing, it was practically fate! I reread the book again and wrote this review and it’s just as amazing as the last time I read it.

From the moment I heard about the idea of One, I knew I had to read it. I’ve always been so intrigued about the psychological aspect of being conjoined twins and the emotions that come with it, which this book managed to portray VERY well. You have no idea how many emotions I went through as I read this book.

Added bonus: it’s written in free verse! Usually, I find that books written in verse lack the ability to make me connect with the characters or the plot or the story in general. However, One managed to pull that off flawlessly! The writing style really made the pages go by. One sitting is all it took to devour this story.

This book is told from the POV of Grace, not Tippi. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t in dual POV because we still get to see both sides of the coin. Grace is the quiet, shy one and Tippi is the stubborn, outgoing one. They’re so different, yet they’re so in sync with each other — it’s beautiful! Sarah Crossan did a phenomenal job of providing insight into their lives; it’s obvious a lot of meticulous research went into this.

The story explores a variety of different problems. One example is the daily struggle of being conjoined twins and the difficulty they face in fitting in with others. Another example is Grace and Tippi’s dysfunctional family – they aren’t the only ones with problems – and their struggle to manage the medical bills. I also found many underlying themes such as love, friendship, and family.

Also, can we talk about THAT ENDING. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, but boy did I cry my eyes out. WHY IS LIFE SO CRUEL *sob*

So, in short, One is a very thought-provoking and insightful read into the lives of two girls bound together. The free verse writing style and the topic of the book itself makes for a very unique read. Grace & Tippi were such complex, flawed characters and their dynamic with their family and friends was just so well-written. The way this book addressed everything was extraordinary and I just- *hugs book*.

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Winning by Lara Deloza

winning  Winning by Lara Deloza

Published by HarperTeen on June 28, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Pages: 336 – paperback, 304 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Whoever said being nice would get you to the top?

Certainly not Alexandra Miles. She isn’t nice, but she’s more than skilled at playing the part. She floats through the halls of Spencer High, effortlessly orchestrating the actions of everyone around her, making people bend to her whim without even noticing they’re doing it. She is the queen of Spencer High—and it’s time to make it official.

Alexandra has a goal, you see—Homecoming Queen. Her ambitions are far grander than her small town will allow, but homecoming is just the first step to achieving total domination. So when peppy, popular Erin Hewett moves to town and seems to have a real shot at the crown, Alexandra has to take action.

With the help of her trusted friend Sam, she devises her most devious plot yet. She’ll introduce an unexpected third competitor in the mix, one whose meteoric rise—and devastating fall—will destroy Erin’s chances once and for all. Alexandra can run a scheme like this in her sleep. What could possibly go wrong?


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way impacted my views & opinions below.

I’ll start off by saying this: If you’re looking for a cute contemporary read about a nice heroine and her charming love interest, and a happy ending for both of them, then this book – my friend – is not for you. Winning will trample over all your hopes and dreams, then ruthlessly crush them into nothing. This book has honestly left me speechless; I can’t even form the words to appropriately articulate my feelings!

*deep breath* Okay, yeah, I’m fine now.

So, our protagonist is Alexandra, and boy is she ruthless and manipulative. Alexandra has a plan: win Homecoming Queen, become Miss Indiana, and then Miss America. Simple & breezy… or is it? From the very beginning of the book, Alexandra is established as the anti-hero who will trample over anyone and anything to get what she wants. We see her resort to manipulation and concocting some really, really messed up schemes. She’s a power-hungry bitch, to say the least.

Despite all that, her POV is framed in such a way that makes the reader actually want her to
succeed. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself defending her in my head. Alexandra’s also been affected by a few outside influences that made her into who she is, like her father’s death and her mother’s subsequent neglect of her. This served to help the reader empathize and relate to her. There’s also the fact that, from the exterior, Alexandra’s not that bad. She’s genuinely a good person, even defending her friend’s sexual orientation when she was being attacked for it.

Winning blurs the lines between the good guys and the bad guys. There’s a kind of moral ambiguity there, because everyone’s pitted against each other. The mean girl. The best friend. The new girl. The wimp. The lackey. They’ve all done cruel things to take down each other. No one is who you think they are. Good vs. bad is clearly a conundrum that this book wrestles with, and it does so excellently.

I’ve seen people describe this as Pretty Little Liars meets Mean Girls, which is a pretty accurate description. There’s a lot of devious plotting and cutthroat competition; everybody wants something. Alexandra wants to be Homecoming Queen and get out of this town, Sam wants Alexandra’s love, Ivy wants to not be an outcast, Sloane wants to take Alexandra down, and Erin just wants to be everyone’s friend.

There’s a lot of backstabbing, sure, but there are light moments, too. The f/f subplot was really adorable, and I loved how even though everyone – including her ‘best friend’ – tried to use Sam’s sexuality against her, she still managed to emerge victorious AND she got the girl. There are tons of witty one-liners, humorous dialogues, and most importantly, girl power!

In short, Winning is a book that is sure to surprise you, taking you on a whirlwind path of devious schemes & cunning plots. Bonus points for anti-hero protagonist, multiple POVs, and f/f subplot! I’d definitely say that there are still loose ends to be resolved; I want to know what happens next, but a sequel? Not so much. Leaving the book as it is would be so much better – it sends a realistic message that not every ending has to be perfectly wrapped up and tied in a bow. If you’re a fan of unconventional contemporaries with anti-hero protagonists, then this is definitely for you!

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Wanderlost by Jen Malone

wanderlost  Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Published by HarperTeen on May 31, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 352 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

When I first read the premise of this book, my first instinct was to roll my eyes and think “Yeah, totally, that’s so plausible.” A minor leading a senior group on a tour around Europe as a replacement for her older sister who was arrested, and as a result, grounded? Uh, yeah, sureee. I soon realized that if you just roll with it and continue reading, you’ll find that it isn’t much of a deterrent after all. So in this review, I’m going to put aside all my doubts & opinions about the implausibility of the premise just because the rest of the book was enjoyable enough to nullify that flaw.

Let me tell you, Wanderlost was a very adorable, cute, fluffy, charming read. Adorable, cute, fluffy, charming reads are my favorite kind of reads! I flew through this book and I was so sad to see it end. Aubree was an amazing heroine. I loved how she a) stepped out of her comfort zone and b) managed to handle everything that got thrown her way. She didn’t do it perfectly, of course. She fumbled her way through and messed up quite a few times, but in the end she still persevered — with the help of her friends and family. Her relationship with her sister was emphasized in this book, and it was such a pleasure watching them try to reconnect & fix this relationship.

This wouldn’t be a contemporary review if I didn’t talk about the romance. The romance in this book gave me soo many heart palpitations. I could swoon over Sam for hours on end. From the moment we are introduced to him, he is charismatic, charming, and funny. His lines had me grinning widely at the page… like a goof. He’s definitely my favorite character in this book. What bothered me, however, was how Aubree still wouldn’t tell him her secret. He was so nice and charming and an overall good guy that I knew what Aubree was hiding would hurt him very much. I was practically screaming at her to just tell him!!! Still, their relationship was truly something to read. It had its bumps along the road (see what I did there), but in the end, their pull toward each other was just too strong. All the feels, man.

Another thing that I really admired about this book was the way the senior characters were written. I’m so glad they weren’t just a bunch of wise, warmhearted, wool-knitting grandparents, because that’s usually the way old people are written in books. They all had realistic personalities and were extremely dimensional, encompassing all the flaws and shortcomings of a normal person. I was actually able to connect and care about every single one of the group.

The setting of this book was breathtaking. The descriptions of the different countries in Europe the group group visited made me want to go there myself. I can understand why Aubree fell in love with every place she visited. The writing made me easily picture Aubree there with Sam, leading the tour group and having adventures together.

In short — ignoring the plot holes & inconveniences that this story presents — this was an extremely adorable book with excellent writing and lovely themes. The dynamic characters and swoon-worthy romances are an added bonus! Still, there are quite a few flaws, but the story’s overall enjoyableness definitely negates them. A perfect summer read with just the right amount of adorableness!

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Rating: 4 stars

3 fish

Book Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

 

tue The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 3, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 519 – hardcover & paperback, 528 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 3 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

Okay, so I love Morgan Matson’s books; they’re all such memorable reads and I always find myself enjoying every single second of them. I only have, like, 3 auto-buy authors and she’s definitely one of them. So, imagine my excitement when I hear that she has a new book coming out! I.am.pumped! Seriously, the excitement I felt was surreal. Unfortunately — I don’t know if it was just me or if it was the book itself — but… this book kind of fell flat. I kept waiting for that moment when I would get completely sucked in, that heart-racing ‘omg‘ factor… 400 pages in and… nope. Zilch. Nada. Maybe it was just because my expectations were ridiculously high and the hype was massive, but I still can’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment. Compared to her other books, The Unexpected Everything just failed to grab a hold of my attention and actually keep it until the end.

I’ll start off by talking about what I liked about the book, because although it just wasn’t up to par with her other books, the book in and itself did have some redeemable parts. I loved the dynamic between the characters, especially between Andie, Toby, Bri, and Palmer. Their friendship was just so precious! It’s always nice to see books that give as much importance to the platonic relationships as they do to the romantic ones, and that’s something that’s always been emphasized in Morgan’s books — which I absolutely love. Also, the humor and banter was 10/10! I found myself giggling at the book more often than not. It made the pages fly by a little faster.

Andie was a nice protagonist, too. Not my favorite, but she was okay. I couldn’t understand her reasoning sometimes and her decisions seemed to lack common sense a lot of the time. You know when you’re reading a book and the MC does something that you just know will come back to bite them in the ass at a later point? Well, that was Andie… times ten.

Speaking of Andie, can we just talk about her dad? I loved the subplot there. I loved watching their relationship develop. I loved watching them slowly get to know each other. Most of all, I loved the care with which Morgan explored their relationship. It was really something to read! Especially the scavenger hunt scene.

Now that we’ve covered what I enjoyed, let’s touch bases on what didn’t work for me. The biggest and most important issue for me, perhaps, was how predicable everything was. As I mentioned above, there was just no ‘wow’ factor that made me want to ignore life and keep reading. I could’ve guessed what was going to happen from the get-go, but I just had to give the book the benefit of the doubt and keep reading. To be honest, most of this book could’ve been condensed into fewer pages. The five-hundred-something pages were just completely unnecessary. The first half of the book barely had anything going on and the second half felt like one very long epilogue that just dragged on and on and on.

Another thing that fell flat for me was Clarke and Andie’s relationship. I wasn’t feeling it. Their interactions were clunky and forced (especially at the beginning) and just tragic. I couldn’t really enjoy the scenes of them together because they were just too tedious. I wanted banter, chemistry, a spark – call it what you will – but their dynamic just made me cringe. I feel like, as a romantic pairing, they weren’t very compatible for each other; Topher would’ve made for a more exciting interest, probably.

In short, The Unexpected Everything wasn’t what I hoped it would be, but it did have qualities that compensated for the defects. The writing was articulate and the characters were relatable and their banter was hilarious. It just that, unlike Morgan’s other books, I couldn’t feel the feels.

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Rating: 3 fish

3 fish