Waiting on Wednesday: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

The Unexpected EverythingPublisher: Simon & Schuster

Author: Morgan Matson

Release date: May 3, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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?

Why I’m excited: How I know I’m going to love this one:

Morgan Matson? Check

Friendships? Check

Family feels? Check

Really looking forward to this one, and I’m so excited that I have an eARC to start soon! I love Morgan Matson’s writing, especially when it comes to friendships. Plus, add in some family and boy drama, and this one sounds like the perfect summer read. And look at that adorable cover!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014 (Overall, By A Particular Genre, 2014 Releases)

This is one of the hardest TTT posts I’ve ever had to do. I read SO MANY good books this year. Because of that, I’m going to list more than ten books. Sorrynotsorry. I’m going to give you a list of books published before 2014 that I read this year and a list of books published during 2014. Hope that’s okay! All of the titles are linked to my reviews.

Published BEFORE 2014

It's Kind of a Funny StoryLola and the Boy Next DoorMaze Runner cover image
The Incredible Book Eating Boy CoverThis Is What Happy Looks LikeThe Day the Crayons Quit Cover

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Every single book I read by Oliver Jeffers (you can find all my reviews under this tag – sorry it has some other stuff in there too)
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Published DURING 2014

Since You've Been GoneThe Young ElitesBlue Lily, Lily BlueLet's Get Lost
Love Letters to the DeadRivers by Michael Farris SmithRain Reign

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Rivers by Michael Farris Smith
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Well, look at that. I only went THREE over. I will stop there because I could probably list about 50, but I don’t think you guys would be too happy with that. What are the top books you read this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top new-to-me authors I read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

I read so many amazing authors in 2014! I had a fun time compiling this list. I can’t believe I just came across these authors this year. It feels like I’ve always loved them. 🙂 All book titles are linked to my reviews.

Stephanie PerkinsStephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss

Morgan MatsonSince You’ve Been Gone

Oliver JeffersThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy

Robert Kirkman – The Walking Dead [volume 1]

Marie LuThe Young ElitesAdi Alsaid

Adi Alsaid Let’s Get Lost

Jennifer E. SmithThis Is What Happy Looks Like

Stacey O’NealeMortal Enchantment

Rainbow RowellAttachments

Lori Rader-DayThe Black Hour

What new-to-you authors did you read in 2014?

Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance SummerTitle: Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date:

Paperback: 468

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Fair warning: don’t finish reading this book on Father’s Day. I did, and I bawled like a baby on my dad’s shoulder for several minutes. I’m glad I had him there to hug while I did. This was me:

Crying gif

Let’s start with a brief synopsis:

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

What I thought:

You know that the ending of Second Chance Summer is coming right from the beginning, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to actually prepare yourself for it. Like I said, I BAWLED. I curled up next to my dad and hugged him hard and just bawled. There are books that make me cry, I mean that’s what happens when an author makes you feel things, but I don’t usually cry this hard at a book, like ever. So I think that there’s something to say about Matson’s writing in this case. She made me feel everything that Taylor feels so much that it almost felt like my own father had died, which, now that I think about it, was not a great thing, but her writing is very true and real.

Of course, it’s not just the ending that makes this book…great? Can you really say great about something like that? I don’t know. Anyway, just like with the other Matson book I’ve read (Since You’ve Been Gone), I thought all of her characters were fleshed out and three-dimensional. Taylor’s two siblings, Gelsey and Warren, were full, real, and believable. I really liked Warren; I think I would’ve had a crush on him if he were real. He has an inability to stop himself from sharing all these facts about the things he’s read or learned, so his family gets facts about how Coca Cola originally started (an accident; they were trying to make aspirin) and a bunch of other things. He’s nerdy, and I like that. 🙂

I thought that the drama that happened between Taylor and her childhood friends, Lucy and Henry, was also pretty believable. I think the reason behind their drama makes it so that Taylor is flawed in a way that a lot of people can relate to her.

Okay, on to the thing that irked me. I don’t know about other people’s experiences, but these are my own personal experiences. What 12 year olds have relationships like Taylor and Henry’s? Taylor was “fully aware of his presence next to me (page 162)” while on a date with Henry. Really? But then Henry had to show her rocks and insects in the woods that would “blow her mind.” I just don’t think the immaturity of that really fits in with a relationship like theirs. The prose used to describe their attraction to one another is too deep for a 12 year old. The possibility of Henry kissing her seemed to “infuse every day” and then they make out a lot. She comments on the fact that she’s spent her whole life reading about things in Seventeen and now it’s happening to her. Again, really? You’re 12. NO. Also, later, when we’re with Taylor when she’s 17, Henry’s younger brother, who is 12, thinks that kissing is disgusting. It just doesn’t fit. Especially when you add to it the drama between Taylor and Lucy and Henry. As I said before, I liked how Matson handled this drama because it was very believable. But it was believable because she was 12 and that’s the kind of drama you have when you’re 12. You don’t have these kinds of relationships though. So yeah, I didn’t really like the chapters when Taylor was 12 because it wasn’t relatable and realistic. On the other hand, I thought the romance between Taylor and Henry when they’re 17 was sweet and wonderfully done.

Then we’ve got the real basis for this plot: the Edwards family. They start off the novel not really talking about their feelings or the fact that their father is dying; Taylor doesn’t even remember the last time she told her father she loves him. I can’t even really imagine that. I tell my family I love them several times a day. As the novel progresses, they get closer and become a unit, a family. By the end of the novel, they are each other’s support system, and I loved the growth of their family. They learned what was really important and to draw comfort and strength from one another. It was sweet and I enjoyed reading a book that supported the idea of family.

The bottom line:

I really liked this book, just as I knew I would. It was very emotional, but also sweet and wonderful, and it the importance of family, which I loved. While I didn’t like the romance between Taylor and Henry when they were 12, I really liked it when they were 17. I would definitely recommend this book.

Rating: 7.5 (between pretty good and freaking fantastic)

Reading next: Necroscope by Brian Lumley (can you tell I need something COMPLETELY different?)

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

So this was the first Morgan Matson book I’ve read, and since starting my blog and checking out other book blogs, it’s pretty much impossible to escape Morgan Matson fan girls. Like, they’re everywhere. And…well, I think I’ve become one of them. 🙂

Since You've Been GoneTitle: Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Morgan Matson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: May 2014

Hardback: 449 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

 

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from Goodreads):

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

What I thought:

As you now know, Sloane leaves a list for Emily to complete. I’m a huge fan of lists, so I’m going to do my review in one. J

1. I think I need to start first with the friendship between Sloane and Emily, which is the basis for the novel. Their friendship was strange at first because I’ve never had a friendship that I was this crazily wrapped up in, but the way Matson writes gets you involved in what Emily is going through and you feel for her as she pretty much mourns the loss of her best friend. The time away from Sloane, along with what happens to her during this time, really gives Emily a new perspective on their friendship. Sloane was behind all of their fun and adventures, so Emily didn’t know who she was apart from that or what to do when Sloane wasn’t there. It was great seeing her stepping out of her comfort zone; I could completely relate to this. I used to be pretty shy in high school (I know, it’s hard to believe), and I found myself in college by breaking out of my shell and doing things by myself and meeting new people. I saw myself in Emily quite a bit.

2. Sloane isn’t who Emily thinks she is. As we learn more about Sloane through flashbacks to when she was still around, we, along with Emily, find out that Emily has built her up to be this perfect person, and she just isn’t that. Emily has lost herself in Sloane, following her along and doing what Sloane says to do. We find out that Sloane needed Emily just as much as Emily needed Sloane. Sloane put on a bit of a front, and I appreciated that; she felt more real this way. Honestly, I wasn’t really a fan of Sloane’s until closer to the end when you began to understand her more.

3. FRANK. Asdfjkl; He’s not your average love interest in a book. He’s the class president/”boy scout”; he’s a leader, but he’s not nerdy either. I think he really just wants to be normal. That’s what he gets with Emily. He was so complex and rounded and lovely and I’m in love. I can’t really put into words all the reasons why. But I swooned. Several times.

4. There are quite a few music playlists throughout the book, made by both Emily and Frank. How cool! It gave the book a really awesome, complete experience. And this is another reason I loved Frank so much: he had a playlist with Twenty One Pilots (one of my top two favorite bands), Andrew McMahon, fun., Swedish House Mafia, and more. I liked the idea so much that I made it into an actual playlist on Spotify (if you are so inclined, you can check it out here: Since You’ve Been Gone – Mix #7). Also, there’s a fake band called The Henry Gales, which I love because that’s Dorothy’s uncle’s name in The Wizard of Oz but it is also Ben Linus’ fake name in Lost. I don’t know if this is why Matson chose it, but I’m going to pretend it is.

5. I can tell that Matson has been writing for a while. Her writing is clear and succinct, nothing was unnecessary. Each sentence was perfectly placed and well-rounded. I was kind of surprised by just how well-done this book was; it’s not your typical YA/Contemporary romance, that’s for sure. I thought the voice was definitely genuine, and even though she name drops some playwrights and obscure bands, the voice still felt like that of a teenager. Also, I wanted to know what was going to happen and lost myself in the novel. I was undoubtedly impressed.

6. Oh, the romance. I thought the romance between Frank and Emily was really sincere. It was gradual, not an all-at-once instalove, which I appreciated. They become friends first and foremost (he has a girlfriend when they start hanging out). But it wasn’t just that he had a girlfriend: they needed each other, needed a friend to talk to. So they were friends first, and then came the feelings, yet it wasn’t forced; it felt organic, like it actually came from their friendship and appreciation of the other person. Because of this, the romance felt more realistic to me. Of course, the reader knows where it is heading, but you still hold your breath when problems arise, and you root for them the whole time (at least I did).

7. Emily’s transformation was really gradual and not all at once, too. I liked this. No one changes all at once; no one can just dive into being brave and doing things out of their comfort zone. It felt more honest and real this way. She was scared when she started going through the list, but with a little help from her new friends, she knows she can do it. Also, I won’t give any details, but I think she even backpedalled a little bit towards the end; I liked this because it shows that even after you change some, you’re not perfect and you still make mistakes.

8. The list was such a great idea! Sloane couldn’t be there, but she gave Emily a list of things to do that she knew would break her out of her shell. Through it, Emily made new friends, found herself, and can now go through life on her own path. And it was so fun to see her do these things. A couple of things from the list: Ride a dern horse, ya cowpoke, dance until dawn, share some secrets in the dark. The list was sweet and entertaining, and I enjoyed seeing Emily figure out how she’d do them and felt for her as she struggled to get up the courage to do some of them.

9. Something I didn’t like: I thought the ending was a little rushed. Again, I don’t want to give away too many details, but the book led up to this big event (which was pretty genuine and I understood it) but it felt too fast.

10. I liked the secondary characters – Beckett (Emily’s little brother who is basically a ninja), Dawn (Emily’s new friend from the pizza parlor), Collins (Frank’s best friend). I thought they were all well-developed, rounded, and were each included with a purpose.

11. However, we are left without knowing what happens with two of the secondary characters who played a pretty big role in the book. I wish we could have found out what happened there, but I suppose it’s nice to be able to make up my own mind about that.

12. This quote: “I closed my eyes only to open them once more, and make sure it was all still there – the riot of stars above me, this whole other world existing just out of reach.” –Page 261

13. I borrowed this book from the library, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be buying it along with Matson’s other two books. I was seriously impressed and I can completely understand the hype in the book blogosphere around Morgan Matson.

The bottom line:

This is a book about self-discovery, friendship, young love, and finding your own path in life. Everyone can relate to Emily in one way or another, and I was sucked in pretty quickly to the story. The romance and transformation of the main character was real and genuine and organic, and I appreciated it very much. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like this book.

Rating: 9 – Practically perfect

You can follow Morgan Matson on Twitter or check out her website to find out more about her.

Have you read Since You’ve Been Gone? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!

Reading next: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner