Size Doesn’t Matter (173): Words in Deep Blue; Everything All at Once

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (173): Words in Deep Blue; Everything All at OnceWords in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Published by Knopf BFYR on June 6, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 273
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Cath Crowley’s been on my to-read list since I found the book blogging community and was read the gospel of Aussie YA. However, I’ve never been great about deciding what to prioritize, so Words in Deep Blue is my first Crowley, though I do own both Graffiti Moon and A Little Wanting Song, which I will read…someday. Words in Deep Blue very much won me over.

Admittedly, it did take me a bit to really fall for Words in Deep Blue. At the outset, Rachel’s basically pure anger and sadness (over the death of her brother), and Henry’s an idiot chasing after his obnoxious ex. I very much did not like Henry for a good portion of the book, despite his bookishness. Ultimately, I sort of came around, but Rachel can totally do better. Then again, Henry’s a teenager, so maybe he’ll improve with age, as he learns to think more with his brain and less with his dick.

Actually, for all that Henry and Rachel are the main characters, I was wayyyyy more into Henry’s sister, George. She also has a ship (or is it two?!?! I won’t tell you), and it’s so freaking cute, unlike Henry and Rachel which is mostly frustrating until the end and also just not my particular brand of shiptrash. George’s flirtations end up happening in their family bookshop’s Letter Library, books that people are allowed to write in or leave letters inside. George is prickly and unapproachable with some A+ resting bitch face and attitude to match, but in her letters the soft side really shows through. I love epistolary romances, so obviously I could not resist this one bit.

The setting and sheer love of books is the other main point of appeal here, and I very much loved that. They generally aren’t discussing books I’m personally into, but most anything bookish is pretty great. I just wish that the book had centered more on George and less on Henry.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (173): Words in Deep Blue; Everything All at OnceEverything All at Once by Katrina Leno
Published by HarperTeen on July 25, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Magical Realism
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book Depository

From the author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found comes a magical new YA novel about 24 dares, 3 weeks, and taking a leap into the unknown.

Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.

In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

This gorgeous novel is perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, with the scavenger hunt feel of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and a dash of magic that evokes Tuck Everlasting.

My expectations for Everything All at Once were pretty low. I didn’t know too much about it, but I really liked the cover (I’m shallow, so what?) and impulse-grabbed a copy at ALA. Everything All at Once grabbed me from the very beginning and didn’t let go; I binged all the way through this in one day, and I regret nothing.

There’s something in the water this season; there are so many books about grief. I feel like every single contemporary I’ve read lately has that as a main theme. Lottie’s trying to cope with the death of her Aunt Helen, something compounded by the fact that, as a beloved author of a children’s book series, everyone feels like they understand her pain. That element made this book’s treatment of grief stand out from the crowd a bit.

In a fairly typical YA book concept, Aunt Helen leaves Lottie 24 letters, each with a dare for her to complete. Usually these sorts of lists are from best friends, but I’ve read this basic plot many times. Thankfully, I really love these plots, because they’re all about character development and getting out of comfort zones. Helen left Lottie the dares because she knew anxious Lottie, so much like her aunt, would be the one who struggled the most following her death. The letters are touching in their own right, and the challenges are less specific than in most of these challenges, allowing Lottie a lot of freedom on how to get things done.

The writing is excellent, and I bonded very strongly with Lottie. Helen and Lottie are the strongest characters by far; the others didn’t stand out too much for me, though I did like Lottie’s relationship with her parents. If you’ve been looking for more YA with loving families, Everything All at Once will do right by you.

I really appreciated that, while clearly Aunt Helen’s been inspired by J.K. Rowling, the Alvin Hatter series isn’t a barely disguised Harry Potter. The plot and cast of the book are clearly very different, and the content included from the books is somewhat plot relevant. That said, I didn’t actually enjoy the snippets of the Alvin Hatter books, even though they are well-written.

For the most part, I loved all of this book. However, the way the book ended was just weird. View Spoiler » Your mileage may vary, but I would have preferred a different, more straightforward resolution.

Everything All at Once is an excellent under the radar contemporary that’s worth looking into if you’re into books about books, dares, or anxious heroines.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (173): Words in Deep Blue; Everything All at Once”

  1. Leah says:

    I am also a George fangirl. I loved her snark and straightforward attitude. She needs her own book!

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