Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review | Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: May 26, 2015
Source: Borrowed



From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances. (Goodreads) 
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

My Thoughts:  I wanted to read Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider immediately when I saw the cover because, oh how lovely, and it also goes along with the book so well. I think that books with very sick characters sometimes make readers hesitant and while I understand that, it also makes me sad sometimes, especially in this case when the book is so great and hopeful even with the sickness diagnosis. But not reading this book means absolutely missing out on something special because it is so full of smile-inducing moments and life.

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Lane: Super-smart, second in his class, plans on early admission to an Ivy League school. Spends all of his time studying and prepping for college entrance exams, very little social activity. Arrives at Latham House prepared to continue his current heavy course load in order to maintain his GPA and second-place rank in his regular high school. Plans to leave as soon as he is healthy - in other words, very soon. Plans have to change when he works himself into a weakened state and his books are confiscated, he is forced into more rest and relaxation in order to recuperate. 

Sadie: Has been at Latham House for about 15 months when Lane arrives. Loves making people laugh, often sneaks out and makes mild trouble around campus. Has a great group of friends, participates in as many social activities as possible at Latham. Been at Latham House so long she never really acts like she cares to leave. 

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Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider is the story of a group very different teens that are thrust together under the same scary, sick circumstances. It's a great story of how they all cope with this sickness that plops itself into their lives while also trying to maintain normalcy, foster their interests, and leave their mark in a world that sometimes doesn't remember they exist. Lane and Sadie would not likely be friends outside of Latham House, but their friendship blossoms within the the sanatorium and soon turns into this really sweet romance. 


There is so much I loved about this book, 
too much to say without telling you everything, 
so I will list a few things: 

1. Lane and Sadie are great. They are so different, yet they complement each other very well. Outside of Latham House, both would likely have been less social but for different reasons. Over the course of the book, Lane learns to loosen up a bit and embrace life, aided by Sadie, and it is amazing to watch this transformation. He is so hesitant in the beginning, like coming out of a shell, but I loved that he began to really live and to love life, and this is due to Sadie and her circle of friends. Before Latham  House, he probably would not have experienced life to the fullest. 

2. Lane and Sadie have a backstory that predates their arrival at Latham House, when they were at summer camp together. Something happens that has affected one of them and it has clouded so much about his/her life since that camp experience. Both recognize one another immediately as fellow campers, but it takes a while for both sides of the story to come out and for the air to be clear. There are several themes to this part of the story: forgiveness, judgment, etc. and I loved that the author included it into this book. 

3. Sadie's circle of friends are an eclectic bunch. They have different interests and are diverse. Sadie loves them wholeheartedly. They embraced Lane wholeheartedly. I think that they have a healthy dynamic to offset their unhealthy conditions. (There is a lot of this healthy/unhealthy in the book, so neat.) When they bring Lane into their fold, I feel likes them too, but I feel like it was initially more a thankfulness and a "Phew, I made friends!" before it grew into the same genuine love the rest had with one another. This isn't surprising to me because Lane was not very social before arriving at Latham House. It wasn't long before he was able to find deep connections with each of these characters, he grew to love them tremendously. I could feel how much this circle of friends meant to each other when I read their scenes together. It was important because of how they clung to each other during their stressful and scary times and also relied on one another for stress relief during fun and happy times. 

4. The sneaking out and shenanigans provide plenty of smiles and chuckles and happy times, which is fantastic because there is always the underlying knowledge that these characters are sick. Yes, they are surviving right now, but the odds are that everyone won't survive. It's important to the story when certain sad things are explored, but the book did not feel overwhelmingly sad to me. 

5. The world outside of Latham House is afraid of tuberculosis, so afraid. (Our real world is too, it's afraid of any sickness that easily spreads.) There are a few parts of the book where we are reminded of the potential for hysteria even though it isn't really present in the book. A minor character presents with fear, there is talk of potential fear back home, etc. This is something that is interesting to think about while reading. If a teacher at your child's school lived with a person that had been diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis, how would you feel, what would you do? Would you demand the teacher step down from their job? Would you want the teacher to send their family member away to protect your own child? OR...what if you had no idea that the person coughing beside of you had a diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis? Scary, right? This is something that these teens worry about, integrating back into society after the world has been afraid of them, when they're no longer sick. 

Toward the end of Extraordinary Means, something happened that I was not expecting and a little cascade of events took place. I loved the end, how everything unfolded, but to tell you why means to spoil things that you really aren't expecting. 

I think that if people don't pick up this book out of fear of heartbreak, it will probably be because of what they fear for the ending BUT the ending has some surprises. And it is hopeful. This story is a tragic one, yes, but there is so much in this book and it is a favorite of the bunch that I've read so far this year. I'm so happy that I stumbled upon such a lovely cover (it totally represents this book, by the way) and that I read this one. And I found a new-to-me author, that's always fun! I need to go backward now and read previous work by this author. I recommend Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider to readers that enjoy young adult contemporary fiction with issues, alternating points-of-view, and romance. 

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Extraordinary Means will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary 
Romance: No triangle. Sweet romance. 
Issues: Sickness. 
Alternating POV's.
Great secondary cast. 

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
will be available for purchase on May 26, 2015.

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Find Books by Robyn Schneider: 




Review | Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine - with Excerpt + Giveaway

Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine
Series: Finding Fate #3
Published by 
Forever
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Publisher


Sometimes wrong can feel oh so right . . .

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.  (Goodreads) 
Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine

My Thoughts:  I'm SUCH a fan of this series and Right Kind of Wrong is probably my favorite of the three books. I was completely sucked into this story. 


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Jenna Lacombe: Fiercely independent, scared of commitment, has a need for control. Jenna has a plan for her life and if you aren't a part of it, then you may as well give up. She likes having a good time, but can't help but hold herself back just a little in everything - this is because she just can't allow herself to fall completely in love with the one guy she wants to love. Everything in her life basically revolves around her fear of loving love Jack. 

Jack Oliver: Big handsome guy with tattoos, but not the stereotypical bad boy. He's so nice and genuinely kind and he has his eyes on Jenna, only Jenna. He makes it no secret that he wants her as more than a friend. He is frustrated and a little angry that Jenna is so stubborn about her "life plan" that does not include him, even though she's more than happy to be his best friend and spend tons of time with him. 

Hey, Jenna, your walls are coming down, little lady. Just give up, already!  

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Okay so what happens in Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine is we see Jenna continuously try to push away Jack, who pursues her calmly and with intention. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Ahem. Let me start over. 

At the beginning of the book, Jenna gets a call from her grandmother in Louisiana that she is dying, please come home. Now this isn't a new thing, her grandmother cries wolf like this from time to time. Frankly, Jenna is a little over it. Traveling from Arizona to Louisiana is expensive and she always finds that her healthy-and-fit grandmother is as healthy as ever. Jenna decides that this time, she's going to save money by driving cross-country instead of flying, no big deal that she has to drive herself. No one is happy about her decision, particularly Jack (who is in love with her). It works out well that Jack's family needs him to come home too and oh hey guess what, they also live in Louisiana. Jack invites himself along on Jenna's road trip, giving safety and saving money as the reasons, and Jenna can't really refuse. Jenna doesn't take kindly to him inviting himself, but she doesn't have much of a choice because of Jack's persistence. (She also doesn't put up a huge fight because she really secretly loves him too even though she doesn't want to admit it.) 

This road trip was one that I knew I would love from the very beginning. LOVE LOVE LOVE. 

To say there is tension is putting it lightly. Jenna is one tough chick. She gives Jack a hard time, but he is so cool with her. It's obvious that his feelings for her are real and run deep. What makes this trip even more interesting is the reason that Jack is heading back to see his family. As readers, we know that Jack's brother has gotten himself into some trouble - dangerous trouble - and big brother Jack has to come save his life, but Jenna doesn't find this out until later. 

Why? Because Jenna is being Jenna, trying to keep up her walls, trying to stay hard. But it's difficult when she is stuck in small spaces with Jack Oliver, see. And when she hears him talking to his family, such love and concern. But then when she sees him interact with his family, his forced and faked calm easing their biggest fears, JENNA CAN'T HELP IT. She begins to break. It's awesome, it's wonderful, it's the best. 

Right Kind of Wrong is the third book in this series, but you can read these books in any order, no problem. The characters in each book appear here and there in all three books, but it isn't a big deal at all, no confusion. This book was a little more serious than the other two although there are some funny parts in it (the other two are a laugh-out-loud at times), but the story in this one is so, so good. Here you have a couple that fights hard for the love that they finally get, you have the guy fighting hard for the girl's love, and you have a little bit of action and holding your breath while Jack has to take care of some family stuff to rescue his younger brother. It's great to see character development in Jenna, who is fiercely independent and strong in the beginning but still has some things she needs to work on - she is so much better off at the end of the book when some softer edges! And Jack, just a great all-around character. You think you have him figured out within minutes of meeting him, but NOPE NOPE, there's really so much to his character. 

I have devoured these three books, the Finding Fate Series. They're so fun, they're happy-ending stories, no-triangle books. They're rereads for me. I want more contemporary from this author. I recommend Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine to readers that enjoy romances with happy endings, no triangle, and swoony-swoony romances. (All three of these love interests have been so great, good gracious.)

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Here's an excerpt from 
Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine
and a chance to win a signed copy of the book! 

     Opening my car door, I slide into the driver’s seat, turn to put the key in the ignition and—
     “Ahh!” Jumping back, I thwack my open palm against the gigantic body of pure muscle seated in the passenger seat. “Dammit, Jack! You scared me!”
     “Good morning.” He grins.
     “What are you doing in my car?” I snap, throwing him some serious stink eye.
     “I’m going with you to Louisiana.” He nods to a large duffle bag in the backseat.
     I blink. “Uh, no you’re not.”
     “Uh, yes I am.”
     “Like hell.”
     He crinkles his brow. “I’ve never understood that phrase. But okay. I’ll go with you ‘like hell,’ whatever that means.”
     “Get out of my car.” I point to the door.
     “Oh, Jenna.” He clucks his tongue. “This will be good for both of us. Listen.” He casually leans against the passenger window and pierces me with his gray eyes. “For reasons beyond my control, I need to go back home. And for reasons beyond your control, so do you. And since our ‘homes’ are right next door to one another, I figured we’d carpool to Louisiana and you can just drop me off at Little Vail on your way to New Orleans.”
     He gives me that little-boy smile of his and it’s all I can do not to lean forward and soak it in. I hate me.
     “I don’t see how that’s good for me,” I say. “At all.”
     He shrugs. “You get some company on the road.”
     I nod with a clenched jaw. “And you get a free ride.”
     His smile grows and I instantly realize that was the wrong thing to say.
     “Precisely,” he says.
     I can’t afford to spend any excessive time with Jack. Not just because we fight, but because of what happened last year. It was one crazy night when we were both drunk, and we never spoke of it after the fact, but our “friendship” has been tense ever since.
     “Well, I don’t need any company,” I say, shaking my head.
     “Sure you do,” he says easily. “Everyone needs company.”
     “Not me. So get out.”
     He grins. “No.”
     God I hate him. But not really.
     God I hate that I don’t hate him.
     I jut my chin and stare him over. “Fine. If you won’t remove yourself…” Exiting the car, I stomp around the hood to his door, yank it open, and wrap my hands around his bicep. Then I start pulling.
     He doesn’t budge. Like, he literally doesn’t move an inch as I tug at his oversized arm and grunt like I’m trying to move a massive piece of hardwood furniture and not a human being.
     His eyes dance as he watches my struggle. “What’s your plan here, Jenna? Haul me out of the car and leave me in the street?”
     “Sounds good to me.”
     “Well, that doesn’t sound friendly at all,” he says, flicking the lever to recline to seat a bit so he looks even more relaxed than before.
     “I wasn’t trying to be friendly,” I grit out.
     “Clearly.”
     I try pulling him out again, to no avail. He’s giant and solid, and honestly, just touching him is turning me on.
     I drop my hands and glower at him. “You can’t just tell me that you’re coming along on my road trip.”
     He cocks his head. “Would you feel better if I asked?”
     “Not especially.”
     “Jenna.” He leans forward and his gaze bores through me, down into the deepest parts of my being. “Will you please let me join you on your trip to Louisiana?”
     For a moment, I’m lost in his eyes, debating with myself. I don’t trust myself around Jack. Not at all. But I did spend half the night tossing in my sleep with nightmares about traveling alone so maybe having Jack tag along might not be so bad after all. Maybe.
     Pulling back, I straighten my shoulders and relent, like usual when it comes to Jack.
     “Fine,” I huff out as I stomp back to my side of the car in climb in. “But no talking,” I say, hoping I haven’t just made a huge mistake.

Enter here for a chance to win one of 
FIVE SIGNED COPES of 
Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Right Kind of Wrong will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. Slow-burn.
Alternating POV's
Great secondary characters
Companion Series

Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine 
is currently available for purchase.

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CHELSEA LIVES IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA, WHERE SHE SPENDS MOST OF HER TIME WRITING STORIES, PAINTING MURALS, AND AVOIDING HOUSEWORK AT ALL COSTS. SHE'S RIDICULOUSLY BAD AT DOING DISHES AND CLAIMS TO BE ALLERGIC TO LAUNDRY. HER OBSESSIONS INCLUDE: SUPERHEROES, COFFEE, SLEEPING-IN, AND CRAZY SOCKS. SHE LIVES WITH HER HUSBAND AND TWO CHILDREN, WHO GRACIOUSLY TOLERATE HER INABILITY TO RESIST TEENAGE DRAMA ON TV AND HER COMPLETE LACK OF SKILL IN THE KITCHEN. 




Find Chelsea Fine:  Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Website / Instagram

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Find the Finding Fate Series: 

  


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