Review: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Last year I loved Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things and I was really hoping to love What to Say Next just as much. At first, I didn’t think I would. I even put this one down to read something out before coming back to it. I’m so glad I kept reading, though, because I did end up really enjoying it.

I LOVE DAVID DRUCKER. I love him! While I wasn’t sold on the story from the very beginning, I was sold on David pretty much instantly. He’s such a different character than I’ve read before. He’s on the Autism spectrum and while I’m not exactly qualified to comment on how realistic a portrayal it was, it did seem pretty realistic to me. There were several times he reminded me a little of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. He was sweet and funny and so, so honest. I just adored him. He went through some heartbreaking moments in this book and I loved seeing him end up stronger because of it. I also really loved his relationship with his sister.

It took a little longer to warm up to Kit. She’s grieving the recent death of her father and while I think it could be cathartic for readers who are going through similar circumstances, it was a little redundant. I kind of feel awful saying that because I know there are stages of grief that everybody goes through at different rates and if it was me I would probably be much the same, but at the same time it made her kind of unlikable for awhile. (I also thought this particular storyline was a little too similar to one in Buxbaum’s last book.) However, as she learned to deal with things in a more emotionally healthy way she became a lot more likable. And her friendship with David made me like her even more. My biggest problem with her storyline has to deal with her father’s accident. I felt like there was supposed to be a bit of a mystery surrounding it, but I thought it was obvious and was a little annoyed that it wasn’t “revealed” until close to the end. It brought with it an extra bit of drama I didn’t feel was really necessary.

The story is told in dual 1st person POVs. At first I didn’t think it worked and wished we only had David’s POV. I felt like David and Kit’s stories didn’t really go together. It almost felt like reading two different books with a couple of shared scenes. Once David and Kit started to spend more time together and be a bigger part of each other’s lives, though, I started to really appreciate the style. Also, Buxbaum nailed their individual voices. There was never a time when I didn’t know which character I was reading. I also absolutely loved being in David’s head.

Overall, What to Say Next started out a little rough for me, but I ended up really loving it. I loved the growing relationship between David and Kit and watching David learn how to better interact with those around him. David Drucker has become one of my favorite characters of all time. I definitely recommend this one.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2016

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016. To make this a little more difficult I am not including authors who had debut books in 2016 – because they’re new to everyone, not just to me.

Pierce Brown

1. Pierce Brown Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star. You all know my love for him and the Red Rising series by now. I can’t wait to read what he writes next!

Julie Buxbaum

2. Julie Buxbaum – Read: Tell Me Three Things. So far this is the only book I’ve read by her, but I definitely want to read more.

Beth Kendrick

3. Beth Kendirck – Read: Cure for the Common Breakup, New Uses for Old Boyfriends, Put a Ring on It. I found a new fun chick lit series this year. I will be reading a lot more from her.

Holly Black

4. Holly Black – Read: The Curse Workers trilogy, The Darkest Part of the Forest. I ended up really enjoying The Curse Workers series and while The Darkest Part of the Forest wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I still absolutely love her writing.

Blake Crouch

5. Black Crouch – Read: Dark Matter. Though I didn’t think Dark Matter really lived up to the hype, I was very impressed with his writing. I watched most of the first season of Wayward Pines and really liked it until it got really weird, but it did make me really want to try the book series.

Vince Flynn

6. Vince Flynn – Read: American Assassin, Kill Shot. My brother, who is not a big reader, became obsessed with the Mitch Rapp series and gave me the first couple of books to read and I enjoyed them. I definitely plan on continuing to read the rest of the series. Sadly, Vince Flynn has passed away. A new author has taken over the series, though, so there should still me more Mitch Rapp stories to come.

Tamara Ireland Stone

7. Tamara Ireland Stone – Read: Every Last Word. I’m not really sure if I’m interested in her other books, but Every Last Word will always be a very important book to me. I have never related to a character as much as I did with the MC in that book.

Lisa Jewell

8. Lisa Jewell – Read: The Girls in the Garden. I really liked The Girls in the Garden and already have I Found You from NetGalley.

Denise Hunter

9. Denise Hunter – Read: Many, many of her books! So I’ve probably read more books by Denise Hunter this year than any other author and I don’t feel like listing them all. There have been several that I really, really enjoyed and a couple that I really hated or even DNF-ed. Despite the bad ones, I still have more books from her on my TBR.

Ruth Ware

10. Ruth Ware – Read: The Woman in Cabin 10. The Woman in Cabin 10 definitely had some creepy, hard-to-put-down moments and I want to check out more from her.

What new-to-you authors did you discover this year?

The Olympic Book Tag: Take 2

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I love the Olympics and I love Olympic Book Tags! Yes, I have already done one, but there are 2 Olympic Book Tags floating around the blogosphere and Deanna from A Novel Glimpse, tagged me for this one.

The Opening Ceremony — What book did you think had an incredible opening?

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Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. I was hooked on this book from the start


The Games — What is your favorite fictional competition?

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The Hunger Games is literally the only book I can think of with a competition. I feel kind of bad for saying it’s my favorite competition, though, haha.


The Original — The modern games are based on the original Greek competition – what is your favorite book based on a classic?

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Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London. A cute re-telling of Pride and Prejudice


The Eternal Flame  — What is one ship that you won’t let die, even after the books made it clear it was never going to happen?

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I usually end up shipping the ship we’re supposed to ship, so the only one I can really think of is *Ruin and Rising Spoilers* Nikolai and Alina. While I was ok with her ending up with Mal, Nikolai was always my favorite.


Gymnastics — What’s a book that had so many twists and turns it left your head spinning? (in a good way)

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Golden Son. I was trying really hard not to repeat books, but what is a tag without a Red Rising mention?!


The Controversial Judge  — What’s a book that you have a totally different opinion about than most other people?

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I just don’t get it. I really did not like this book at all, but the blogosphere loves it.


Beach Volleyball  — What is your favorite fictional duo?

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I’m going to go with Shazi and Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn series. I thought they were a great example of a romantic pairing also working together for the greater good.


Weightlifting — What is the most massive book on your shelf?

A collection of Jane Austen’s novels. I love it.


Track & Field — What is a book that you just tore through with world record speed?

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I read P.S. I Like You by Kasie West in a day.


Synchronized Swimming — What is a book series that you kept reading, even though you didn’t have any idea why?

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Pretty Little Liars. I made it to book 10 before I couldn’t take anymore.


The Tortured Fan — What fictional family, group, nation, or organization do you irrationally root for no matter how many times they break your heart?

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Joe from the You series. He is a sociopath, but I always root for him.


Closing Ceremony — What book had an ending that just blew your mind?

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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Bookish Book Lover Tag

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I saw this over on A Novel Glimpse (you should check out her blog, btw) awhile back and thought it looked like a fun tag, so I’m stealing it 🙂

What book are you currently reading?

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I’m currently not reading anything, but my next read will either be This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, which I just got approved from NetGalley for (I’m so excited!) or The Problem with Forever by JLA, which I just got from the library (finally!)

What’s the last book you finished?

Paper Princess by Erin Watt. This is definitely not the type of book I usually like, but it was a super addicting read. I’m kind of eager to read the next book (out later this month). Though this is a YA book, I WOULD NOT recommend it for YA readers. It reads way more adult.

Favourite book you read this year?

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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown. The whole Red Rising trilogy is amazing, but this one is my favorite of the three.

What genre have you read most this year?

Contemporary

What genre have you read least this year?

Historical Fiction

What genre do you want to read more of?

Mystery/Suspense. It’s one of my favorite genres, but I haven’t read a ton of it this year yet.

How many books have you read this year, and what’s your goal?

My goal is 75 and I’ve read 69. I should probably up my goal.

What’s the last book you bought?

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Imposter by Susanne Winnacker and Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I was having a bad day at work and walked down to the Dollar Tree that’s in my work plaza for a break and picked these books up on a total whim. Imposter was pretty decent (though I later found out the author decided not to finish the series, so that kind of pissed me off). I haven’t read Messy yet, but I after I bought it I realized it’s by the same authors as The Royal We, so I have high hopes for it.

What book are you saving up to buy next?

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Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo. I’m planning on seeing her in a couple weeks at one of my local libraries and usually buy the book there so I can get it signed.

How many books did you check out last library visit?

I use the e-library, so I usually just get one at time – whenever my hold on a book comes in

What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

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I am dying for Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

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I think that The Hunger Games, though kind of old news these days, has mass appeal to all ages – every single person in my family has read this series and enjoyed it (that includes a brother in his 20s and dad in his 60s). For YA/Fantasy/Paranormal enthusiasts, I think everyone needs to read The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan. Great characters and witty writing.

Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more?

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Can Erin Morgenstern PLEASE write another book? The Night Circus is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and I just need more from her!

A few books your heart adores?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Unspoken by Sarah Reese Brennan

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

I’m sad that Six of Crows is only a duology.

What books are on your wish-list?

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Broken Prince by Erin Watt

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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I saw Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse do this tag and thought it seemed better than the mid-year post I was thinking about doing, so I decided to tag myself for it.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2016.

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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

I think the 2nd book in this series is my favorite because it’s here that it separates itself from The Hunger Games comparisons, it’s action-packed (which I normally am not a huge fan of, but LOVED it here), had a billion surprises and twists throughout, and also really brought the emotion. This book is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to rating a book 5 stars on my blog.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2016.

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Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black.

Ok, so obviously Golden Son would be this answer, too, since it’s a sequel and it’s my favorite…but Red Glove was also an exceptional sequel. I thought it was much better than the first book and I really enjoyed it.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To.

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The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout (published 2/23/16)

Seth is one of my favorite JLA characters and I was really looking forward to this…but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve been waiting for it to come to the library, but it hasn’t yet.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows was one of my top three books of 2015 and I’m soooo excited fort the sequel. I love the characters so much and can’t wait to see what happens. You can read a sneak peak of it here!

Biggest Disappointment.

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Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

After completely falling in love with Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy series, I was so looking forward to reading more from her, but I found myself pretty disappointed with this book. The quick-witted humor and banter that I had come to expect from Brennan was missing. Perhaps I would have liked this better if I had read A Tale of Two Cities?

Biggest Surprise.

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Despite having this on my TBR for a long time, I wasn’t really expecting anything from it, but I really, really enjoyed it! While it does have some cheesy moments, it had excellent character development and a whole lot more emotional depth than I was expecting.

Favorite New Author.

Pierce Brown

I am completely blown away by Pierce Brown’s writing. Despite not really being a fan of sci-fi or action, his Red Rising series has become one of my favorite series of all time. I will read anything this man ever writes. And you should, too.

Newest Fictional Crush.

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Somebody Nobody (and his real life self) in Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

I won’t tell you the character’s actual name because it’s a spoiler (even though you can probably guess who it is within the first couple chapters), but I love his quick wit and his vulnerability, and that he’s always there for Jessie (even if he’s not physically there for much of it)

Newest Favorite Character.

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Cassel from the Curse Workers series.

He’s smart, funny, and so sarcastic. He’s just a fun, cool character to read about.

Book That Made You Cry.

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I don’t think the average person will cry at this, but I identified SO MUCH with the main character and so many of her struggles. I honestly think I have some undiagnosed OCD, which just makes so much more sense of my life.

Book That Made You Happy.

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Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

This is a super cute Pride and Prejudice re-telling. Nothing spectacular, but it was fun to read.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation.

The only ones I can think of that I’ve watched this year are Mockingjay Part 2, which was my least favorite one in the series, unfortunately, and The Convenient Groom (on Hallmark) which was so different than the book that I had a hard time enjoying it.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year.

This year has not been a great blogging year for me so far, but I have managed a couple of original posts

Love Stinks: Toxic and Unbearable Relationships in Fiction

This Book is Making me Nervous – Novels that Feature Characters with Anxiety Disorder

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year.

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Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Because I’m using the purchase of books as weight loss rewards, I’ve only bought a handful so far this year and this has been the best (both the cover and what’s on the inside)

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to participate

Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Three Things:

(1) I really, really enjoyed reading this book!

(2) The format of this review is extremely unoriginal.

(3) I don’t know why, but I really love the cover of this book and am really happy that it ties into the story. Though also oddly disappointed that it’s not a bigger role.

Three More Things:

(1) I loved the banter in this book. It was so fun and witty and kept me smiling throughout so much of it. I loved the e-mail/texting/IM formatting and honestly wouldn’t have minded if the whole thing was written like that. While I think that shifting to texting/IM-ing made sense, I did miss seeing the e-mail subject lines, as they were pretty funny, too.

(2) While there was a lot of fun banter, the other half of the book was pretty heavy. While the banter did a good job of helping balance out the heavy, I don’t think it was done as effectively as it could have been. It would be all fun and texting one page and the next was a lot of introspective moments of grief. The transitions were a little jarring at times.

(3) The family aspect of this book was lacking for me. While things start to get better by the end, I really didn’t care for any of the parental figures in this book. I thought the blended family aspect would play a bigger factor in the story, but it was mostly used to give Jessie one more thing to be upset over.

Another Three Things:

(1) Jessie is dealing with a lot, though – the loss of her mother, moving away, new step-mother and step-brother, new school, new friends, mean girls, bullying, absent father. I mean, the list goes on. Plus, she’s only 16, so if she spends a good deal of the book feeling sad and lonely and a little self-indulgent, I can excuse it. There was actually a lot of Jessie that I could identify with and even though I didn’t always love how she handled something, she was a likable character and she did really grow throughout the book.

(2) I love the Anonymous E-mailer, Somebody Nobody. This could have been creepy, but I’m just going to blow right by that and go for how cute it was. Because it was cute. Though, was I supposed to be surprised by SN’s real identity? Because as soon as his character was introduced he was my guess on who it was and I just became more convinced as the story went on. Like, it couldn’t have been anyone else. And while I wouldn’t have minded if it was revealed to Jessie before the final chapter, I was ok with it. I shipped it.

(3) I don’t really feel like I can mention any of the guys/potential love interests without giving away SN’s identity. So I’ll just say, I think you will be satisfied with the romantic portion of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Tell Me Three Things. It was such a cute story with fun, witty banter that I couldn’t get enough of. And while I didn’t always think the heavier moments were well balanced, they did seem raw and relatable and in that regard, was well done. This is definitely a YA Contemporary I would recommend. I already want to read it again.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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