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Review: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young

The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Format: eARC

Source: Harlequin Teen and Edelweiss

I am Comet Caldwell.

And I sort of, kind of, absolutely hate my name.

People expect extraordinary things from a girl named Comet. That she’ll be effortlessly cool and light up a room the way a comet blazes across the sky.

But from the shyness that makes her book-character friends more appealing than real people to the parents whose indifference hurts more than an open wound, Comet has never wanted to be the center of attention. She can’t wait to graduate from her high school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the only place she ever feels truly herself is on her anonymous poetry blog. But surely that will change once she leaves to attend university somewhere far, far away.

When new student Tobias King blazes in from America and shakes up the school, Comet thinks she’s got the bad boy figured out. Until they’re thrown together for a class assignment and begin to form an unlikely connection. Everything shifts in Comet’s ordinary world. Tobias has a dark past and runs with a tough crowd—and none of them are happy about his interest in Comet. Targeted by bullies and thrown into the spotlight, Comet and Tobias can go their separate ways…or take a risk on something extraordinary. 

Being sixteen is never easy but Comet Caldwell has the additional woe of being saddled with two parents who seem prone to treating her as a polite boarder or acting surprised that she’s actually still around. Add in two fun-loving friends who cannot understand her bookishness or her contentment to stay at home and Comet is often left feeling invisible and misunderstood. Enter hot new guy from America. A shared class project with Tobias turns into more and Comet is smitten. But Tobias and his cousin run with a rough crowd and suddenly Comet is the target of unwanted attention. Being with Tobias means no longer being invisible and facing up to bullies. So is Comet willing to shake up her life and come out of her shell?

I had an odd relationship with The Fragile Ordinary and my feelings for Comet and the overall story ran the gamut.
The first several chapters: Oh my goodness, this was sixteen year old me. I relate to this girl so hard.
By the middle: I’m so over being in this girl’s head. I get it already, you’re not like your friends, you don’t like parties, blah blah blah.
And by the end: So that was it, huh? Okay.

The Fragile Ordinary suffered from an overabundance of telling instead of showing - something I’m willing to go with in small doses but there was little here for me to discover for myself. Comet shared her every thought and feeling (to the point of being repetitive), Comet told me all about her feelings for Tobias, Comet told me about every outfit she wore (and described everything her friends wore). Because of this, I was never able to invest in the Comet + Tobias relationship. While I was told (often) how Comet felt and how their relationship progressed, I was never able to see it or feel it for myself. Passages like this one are a prime example: “Tobias and I… well we were better than great. Closer than ever and yet both excelling separately.” While I generally liked both Comet and Tobias, I was never able to feel any connection or buy in to the romance.


Comet did experience some real character growth throughout the book – finding confidence in herself, calling out her parents for their atrocious lack of parenting, and generally finding her own voice – and I appreciated seeing the gradual changes in her. While The Fragile Ordinary didn’t bring anything new to the YA contemporary genre, it was still an enjoyable story that showcased friendship, acceptance of what we cannot change, and standing up for one's self.

3/5 STARS

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

WWW Wednesday #15 | July 18, 2018


WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.
Just answer three questions and share what you're reading.


WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
    
    
 So I was kinda/sorta planning to wait and start reading All Your Perfects when I got my physical copy at the Colleen Hoover signing in a couple weeks. But then I came back to reality and knew that there was *no way* there could be a brand new CoHo book out there and me not start reading it. As if! So, yeah... All Your Perfects is now happening.♥

I was only 40 pages or so into Siege and Storm when The Great CoHo Book Release of 2018 happened so that's now been set aside. I'll pick it back up shortly. 

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
 I finished The Simple Wild last week and it was another hit from K.A. Tucker. This one is more relationship-focused than some of her others (family relationships, romantic relationships) and I loved it.  

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?
           
I want to get back into Siege and Storm and I also have an ARC of Someone I Used to Know that I need to get to.

What are you currently reading?
I wanna know! :)

Top Ten Tuesday: The Short & Sweet Edition (Novellas and Short Stories)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: 
Favorite Novellas and/or Short Stories
I very rarely read short stories, but if there's a novella included in a series I'm loving... I'm all over it. Whether it's a prequel giving background information, a story about a side character, or an epic epilogue, I'm there. Here are some of my favorites.


Destroy Me - Shatter Me #1.5
Tahereh Mafi
The one that had me questioning everything I thought about Warner.

Crossing the Line - Pushing the Limits #1.1
Katie McGarry
The one where Katie McGarry delivered a line I loved so much it's stuck with me for 5 years. "Play this right, Lincoln. She deserves a man, not a boy."

Shadows - Lux #0.5
Jennifer L. Armentrout
The one where I met Daemon Black's twin brother. 

Kiro's Emily - Rosemary Beach #9.5
Abbi Glines
The one that made me understand Kiro.

My True Love Gave to Me
The one that gave me two short stories that I loved: Midnights by Rainbow Rowell and It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins.

Finding Cinderella - Hopeless #2.5
Colleen Hoover
The one where Colleen Hoover made me laugh, then sob, them smile.

The Favorite - The Selection #3.5
Kiera Cass
The one about the character I liked more than the main character.

The Wedding - Lux #5.5
Jennifer L. Armentrout
The one I'd been waiting for. With all the feels.

The Proposal - Wait For You #2.5
Jennifer L. Armentrout
The one that made my heart melt.

In Her Wake - Ten Tiny Breaths #0.5
K.A. Tucker
The one that gave me what I wanted (but should really be #1.5).

How do you feel about novellas?
Love 'em or leave 'em?

Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Genres: Women's Fiction

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Format: eARC

Source: St. Martin's Press and NetGalley

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends—and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made—though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.


Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself—or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

Barbara Delinsky is a mainstay in women’s fiction and with good reason. Tackling complex issues while exploring family dynamics and relationships, Delinsky can weave a story that captures the mind as well as the heart. Before and Again is no exception.

Maggie’s life changed in an instant. After losing all that she loved most in a horrible accident, she has rebuilt a quiet existence in another town. She craves anonymity and has shared her past with no one, save for one trusted friend. When supporting a friend in need means being thrust back into the spotlight, and the risk of her past becoming known is all too real, Maggie must decide what she is willing to risk in order to do what she knows is right.

Who was I? I wasn’t a mother or a wife, and I was a daughter in name only. But I was a friend. Being a friend sometimes meant you left your own comfort zone for the sake of someone else. I wanted to be the kind of person who did that.

Maggie was a character that was still mired in grief and guilt. Outwardly, she gave the impression of having moved on, but in reality she was still stuck in a spiral of self-blame and recrimination. When her friend’s son is accused of hacking into the Twitter account of a high profile journalist, the national media descends. Maggie is terrified of being recognized and having her own past brought into the spotlight but she also cannot turn her back on her friend. At the same time, a face from Maggie’s past has reappeared and she’s reeling from the implications.

There were a lot of threads running through Maggie’s story: her job and her pottery, the scandal with her friend’s son, her estrangement from her family, her ex-husband, and Maggie’s overwhelming heartache. While at times the pacing did seem to lag, I was still invested in Maggie’s story. And despite the hacking scandal, which often seemed to take a backseat, the story felt more character-driven than the synopsis suggests. Along with its commentary on the role of the media (about which Delinsky seemingly has nothing but disdain), Before and Again also tackles issues of friendship, forgiveness, loss and second chances. Sometimes a bit slow, but ultimately a hopeful story of overcoming tragedy and finding happiness again.

3.5/5 STARS


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag | 2018

I've had the beginnings of this post sitting in my draft folder for weeks, just waiting to find the time to finish it. So here we are in the second week of July and I figure if I don't do it now it's going to turn into something like the Two-Thirds of the Year is Gone Book Freak Out. And since that doesn't exactly flow off the tongue, I better get busy and get this done.

1. BEST BOOK YOU'VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

    
I'm totally cheating (yes, on the very first question) but I'm picking one adult novel and one YA. Because after agonizing for the last five minutes between these two... why not go with both. I'm living on the edge, people. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a total tour de force from Taylor Jenkins Reid. I feel like she should just retire now (#notreally) because how could she possibly ever top this? Autoboyography by Christina Lauren gave me All. The. Feels. I fell in love with Tanner and Sebastian and my heart ached for both of these special people. This became an instant favorite.

2. BEST SEQUEL YOU'VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

I'm going with the second book in Emma Chase's Royally series. Henry and Sarah from Royally Matched were both characters I loved and their story was priceless. Plus, the audio narration was sheer perfection.

3. A NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN'T READ YET BUT WANT TO

      
Uh, how much time do we have... ? I'll keep it to just three: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli and 9 Days & 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno. I've been meaning to read these but various factors have prevented that. You know, Life and whatnot. ("Life is not whatnot." Sixteen thousand bonus points if you can name the movie that quote came from.)

4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF 2018

Easy-peasy. Jennifer L. Armentrout's continuation of the Lux series. The Darkest Star releases on October 30, 2018.

5. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

That would probably be Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer. It really fell flat for me.

6. BIGGEST SURPRISE

Y'all know that I'm not typically a fantasy reader. It's just not my genre of choice and it takes a lot for me to pick up a fantasy novel. But the synopsis of The Cruel Prince grabbed me and I took a chance. And it ended up being my biggest surprise of the year (so far). I loved this tale that crossed the mortal and Fae worlds, where plotting, scheming and political intrigue was the order of the day.

7. FAVORITE NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR

    
The writing duo of Christina Lauren has me firmly under their spell. Autoboyography became an instant favorite and Love and Other Words sealed the deal. I'm excited to read more.

8. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

I'll go with Mal from Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series. His book, Play, was my favorite of the series and I loved his big heart and crazy sense of humor.

9. NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

Auggie from Wonder. So, so precious.

10. A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

Again, how much time do you have? I cry in half the books I read. LOL But for the sake of brevity (like I'm really concerned with that at this point - bahaha!) I'll go with Autoboyography. I remember shedding some serious tears for Sebastian during one scene in particular.

11. A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Love Scene, Take Two was All Kinds of Adorable and I read most of it with a big smile on my face. Teddy and Bennett were so sweet and basically the epitome of the heart eyes emoji.

12. FAVORITE BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATION

It's not like I've seen a lot of movies this year - in fact I think I've only been to the theater twice. And - surprise, surprise - both times were to see the same movie. :) So picking my favorite adaptation is easy. But even if I'd seen all the adaptations this year, my answer would be the same: Love, Simon. They did an ah-mazing job at translating one of my favorite books to the big screen and managed to capture all of its charm and sweetness and humor and heart. 

13. FAVORITE POST YOU'VE DONE THIS YEAR

Oh geez, seriously? I feel like I've already been working on this post for a year and a half and now I'm supposed to peruse every post from the last six months? Gah! Without actually looking (not happening), two come to mind: my review of Autoboyography and my post about my father

14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU'VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

One of my favorites covers so far this year. The Boy & His Ribbon by Pepper Winters.

15. BOOKS YOU WANT TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

         
         
Um, all the books? Is that an acceptable answer? No? Okay, then I'll go with: Full Tilt by Emma Scott, The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye, Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan, More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer, Roomies by Christina Lauren, Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham, Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi, and The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon.

Have you read any of the books I've talked about? 
What's the best book you've read so far in 2018?