In Which Barnes Drops the Mic: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

Source: GoodReads

The Long Game was the much anticipated sequel to The Fixer which if you haven’t PICK UP NOW.

I mean it.

It’s rare that I say the second book in a trilogy or series is better than the first but this one is totally be. So much better and I loved the first one.

This book though drops the mic on the first and then some.

There are so many OMG moments in there and—

Obviously, I’m babbling which I rarely do in reviews but I do, do it when I love a book and I loved The Long Game. I don’t tend to do spoiler heavy reviews so writing this one is a little hard because so much happened. If you thought The Fixer was interesting and filled with twists, well, it ain’t got nothing on The Long Game.

Even more bombshells are dropped, the characters are fleshed out further. And oh, there are so many moments that make you think that Barnes knows how to pull out your heart and squish it into itty bitty pieces.

I ❤ you Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Seriously, this book has me wanting to revisit your backlist even the more dubious titles that I wasn’t so sure about because this one is well done.

Tess really grows and she was already a BAMF in the first book but now, times that infinity. The thing is, she doesn’t feel unrealistic. The character is as flawed as they come and you see this with her relationship with Ivy—note, I did wish that Ivy would’ve been in the book a little bit more but I think having her be a little distant in this book was a little needed.

There were twists in this one that I didn’t expect, and I have a feeling when the third book comes out next year I’m going to do a reread of this series because I do think there were some clues in the first book that I didn’t pick up on.

One of the most refreshing thing about this series is that it’s not romance heavy. While there is some flirtation and maybe a kiss, it’s not the primary focus of the book. Tess is not focused on boys and I have to say that is refreshing, especially for a YA book. Instead, the book focuses more on friendships and plots and it really works.

Overall, if you want something that is a bit different from the typical YA contemporary flare. Read this. It is one of my favorites this summer. Barnes has really upped the ante and….oh, this book.

Overall Rating: An A+. Yeah, rarely give them but this one was a joy to read.

Amazing Premises, Lousy Characterization: Zero Day by Jan Gangset

Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?

Source: GoodReads

Obviously, there’s been a bit of an absence on the blog.  Blame the Louisiana bar exam for that.  They don’t call it the fourth worse one in the country for nothing, ya’ll.

The good thing is the test is done, so my free time has improved for the time being.  I’m sure that could change though.    This review will probably be a quickie though for various reasons.

I read or should I say partially read Zero Day about six or seven weeks ago.  I probably shouldn’t even be writing a review at this point since I forgot a lot of details about the book, but I do remember why I DNF’d it, and that for me justifies a little blurb of my thoughts of this book.

I’ll be honest, plot wise it kept me intrigued.  But the characterization has been so horrible, that I could not stomach continue reading it.

It was really sad, because the plot was pretty interesting if a bit cliche and a little too over the top.

Full disclosure, I do like political thrillers and stories about kidnappings, so this really should have been up my ally.  But there was really nothing unique about the set up and everyone felt so wooden that it failed.

I think had the book just been a political thriller, it would have been fine.  While I do like my characterization, with politics you can’t expect a lot of emotion.  Can’t say the same about kidnapping stories though.

With kidnapping stories, the emotions should be raw.  You should be able to connect to the characters on a certain level.  But here I could not feel for Addie or any of her friends and family, they just felt wooden.

So, so, wooden.

Who knows, maybe they improved as the book progressed.  But this is one of those cases where I just didn’t bother finding out.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Another One Bites the Dust: Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Enjoy Red Girl, Blue Boy and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury’s contemporary If Only romance line centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can’t have!

Sixteen-year-old Katie and Drew really shouldn’t get along. After all, her father is the Republican nominee for President of the United States while his mother is at the top of the Democratic ticket. But when Katie and Drew are thrown together in a joint interview on a morning talk show, they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. With an entire nation tuned into and taking sides in your parents’ fight, and the knowledge that—ultimately—someone has to lose, how can you fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate?

This title in the If Only line is a frank and funny romance that shows how sparks fly when opposites attract.

Source: GoodReads

This book makes me want to drink.

I am really starting to think there is something wrong with me.  The last three reads have been DNF’s.  And I HATE DNFing, especially where the premises of the book seems to indicate that I should really like this book.

I didn’t though.

The main female character was just hideous.

Remember Rachel Berry in the first season of Glee and Tracey Flick in Election, this MC is even more EXTREME than they were.

Yeah, I couldn’t stomach her point of view that was probably the biggest reason I DNF’d it.

Technically speaking, the book was readable enough if you could get past how unrealistic Katie and to a lesser extent Drew were.

I guess I should talk about the elephant (ha, ha, political pun) in the room: Katie.

As I said before, completely ridiculous from her copy-cat Jackie O infamous pink suits, to claiming she looks like Christmas with her green eyes and red suits.  I wanted to roll my eyes.  Does that mean I look like Christmas too anytime I wear red since I have green eyes too?

Please.

Half of the shit she gets herself into wouldn’t happen in real life because the campaign would have a PR person on staff to tell her it’s not a good idea to wear an imitation of the outfit that Jacqueline Kennedy wore when her husband was killed-especially when you’re a Republican.  Or for that matter, a replica of the suit that Nancy Reagan wore.  Then again, look at some of the stupid things that have been going on this election cycle-see Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

So maybe Katie is a realistic spawn of a GOP candidate.

Okay, probably not.

I couldn’t handle it.  Maybe her behavior would be explained by the end, but I really doubt it.

Drew on the other hand is the stereotypical My-Parents-Are-Ruining-My-Life teen.  He’s not that bad, but I rolled my eyes when he started ranting about being rich.  BUT at the same time, I could see a kid whose parents are involved in politics acting like him instead of Katie.

God, Katie.

SMH.

The plot itself didn’t seem bad.  The If Only series has simple little rom com plots, and this book falls into the series premises perfectly.  The problem is that it falls into a lot of pitfalls that a lot of these books do-half baked Disney Chanel like romances.

Unless Drew was the boy at the beginning of the book (which my Book Psychic senses are telling me he was), I didn’t see them interact.  I didn’t want to because I already had an inkling how squirm inducing it was going to be since Katie’s one other interaction with a guy was embarrassing at best.

Socially awkward characters can be good, but squirm inducing socially awkward characters aren’t so good.  If Katie made Katie Couric cry I can only bet it was because Couric felt sad at how hopeless this MC was.

Overall Rating: A DNF a total and complete fail on the part of the leading lady.  Shame.  If you’re interested in a YA book about politics try The Wrong Side of Right by Jen Marie Thorne, The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, or All American Girl by Meg Cabot.  Do not read this one, unless irrational main characters don’t bother you.

It’s Like House of Cards, Scandal, and Veronica Mars Had a Very Attractive Baby: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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.

I was kind of worried about this book because I have a hit or miss track record with Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s stuff.  Fortunately, this one worked for me.  Which I was extremely grateful about.

The pitch comparison is perfect, though I think someone should’ve mentioned House of Cards as well, since I did see shades of Raymond Tusk in a certain character-at least that’s who I pictured said character to look like.

The political scandal/mystery surrounding the book, worked surprisingly well.  I was a little worried about how Barnes was going to pull it off without it seeming cliche or eye roll worthy, but it didn’t feel that way to me.

The mystery when you got down to it, was pretty simple and I think that’s one of the things that helped the book work.  If it  would’ve been too complicated, it would’ve failed on its face.  Because it would’ve been too much, especially for a first book in a series.

Yep, series.

I think one of the big reasons this book worked for me, is right now I am really into political themed YA.  Blame, The Right Side of Wrong for that.  The Fixer takes a different look at an aspect of DC life and it does it just as well.

There was a lot of mystery though, still by the time I finished this book.  I needed-wanted-more back story with Ivy, and I guess that’s what book two is for but still.

Also, I really liked how Barnes portrayed Alzheimer’s.  The portrayal of that character was pretty spot on, my grandma suffered from the disease, and watching Tess’s grandad decline was a painful reminder of what my grandmother had endured.

Romance in this book was surprisingly light and I actually approved.  I liked how there were hints that something could develop amongst multiple characters in the story further down the road, BUT for now the book just took it’s time with the getting to know you stage and establishing relationships.

That is something I could really do more of with YA.

Also, there was a strong emphasis in this book on family.  And that is another thing I could do with more in YA.  And I wanted more development in this area as well.  Again, this is only the first book.  So hopefully, in more installments this factor will be developed as well.

I could nit pick on a few things about this book, but to be honest I’m not.  The few flaws that were in this one didn’t tarnish my reading experience.  I was able to get through this one in a weekend (and I was packing/cooking/cleaning/shopping/and simultaneously playing two Nancy Drew games throughout all of this).

Overall Rating: A solid A.