The Fixer

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Reviewed by SA

A young adult political thriller. Do I have your attention yet? If that’s not enough to get you rushing to pick up this book, stick around, because I have so many reasons you will love The Fixer. It’s smart, exciting, intriguing, and, most importantly fun. It’s another one of those books that you can read quickly, but it somehow stays with you for a long while.


Since her parents death, all Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has known has been her grandfather’s ranch. Her grandfather, however, is starting to forget things, and it’s becoming harder and harder for Tess to cover for him. She wants nothing more than to stay by his side, but her estranged sister, Ivy, a mysterious big-wig from D.C., has other plans for them. 

When Tess is uprooted and thrown into the capital, she’s tossed into a world of politics and power. Ivy is a fixer: when someone with a name wants a problem solved, the name on their lips is Ivy Kendrick. One of those problems is Tess; Ivy manages to enroll her, somehow, into Hardwicke Academy, home of the children of the biggest names in D.C.. And some of those children have bigger problems than their parents could ever imagine…

The rich and powerful have skeletons in their closets, and a conspiracy starts to take shape, one that Tess isn’t sure she can fix. Things are going to get… complicated.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up this book. I saw it compared to “Scandal meets Veronica “Mars, though since I’ve never seen an episode of either, it wasn’t much of a reference. All I knew was “teenage girl solves political problems”…  so not much to go on. Which made the whole experience all the more awesome: I had nothing to compare it to, so everything was extremely new. But imagine you had a teenager who was onto everything going on in house of cards. A different perspective, making everything new.

Tess herself is one of those smart protagonists who proves she can be resourceful… and smart enough to talk to people with more experience when things get out of hand. Dealing with such intricate political schemes when having no experience in the political world means you need backup: and trusting in the people around you is not a trait many YA protagonists use. She never plans on becoming a fixer, but she has such a heart, and a hatred of bullies, that she can’t help but step in for others.

And Tess’s friends she makes at Hardwicke are awesome, and I mean awesome. Many main characters are POC and pretty badass. They have their own skills and talents, and support Tess, becoming a strong team. Just as Ivy has her own team, Tess somehow inadvertently builds one around herself. It’s fun to see those worlds collide: Ivy and her team, with Tess and her own.

The conspiracy starts as something you think could have a simple answer: but it quickly grows into something much, much larger. And it’s not something you can solve, or even theorize, by yourself. Almost like a Sherlock Holmes novel, you need to work out the problem using the few clues at your disposal, which you only uncover by following Tess’s own – at first reluctant – investigation. You won’t see the twists coming.

Some things seem a little unrealistic, however. For example, the first Lady who keeps showing up and showing an interest in Tess. Or the ease with which some of the mysteries are solved and resolved. Then again, this is meant to be a fun YA novel, so I’m going to let that slide: the book was fun all the same.

The Fixer seems like the beginning of something great. I an excited to read the sequel, and would love to see this turned into a show – a House of Cards crossed with Alex Rider and maybe Pretty Little Liars. It’s a fun, smart novel that keeps you hooked until the end.

Assorted Musings 

  • So there’s this HUGE twist at the end, which somehow I managed to see coming. All this because I read a book in middle school about this boys, his show chickens, and his sister, the exotic dancer named Dawn. So now every time I see characters with that kind of age difference I expect that twist. Dangit book-whose-name-I-can’t-remeber!
  • I totally imagine Ivy looking like Kristen Bell, for some reason. Why? No idea.
  • YESSSS for no forced Romance! I thought there would be but NOPE.
  • THAT ENDING. I really need a sequel STAT!


By Scott Sigler

Reviewed by SA

Looking for your new favorite book this summer? Summer fast and fun that will stay with you forever? Then I would seriously recommend Alive, Scott Sigler’s new book coming out today. It’s a fun, fast paced thrill ride that will leave you breathless and asking for more, offering you questions upon questions of mystery and intrigue. You’ll never want to put it down.


When she breaks free from the coffin shaped box that was holding her, our protagonist has no idea who she is. She knows only one thing: it is her twelfth birthday. But her clothes are too tight, her body too large for being twelve; and what is that strange circular mark on her forehead? As people begin to emerge from the coffins, each claiming it to be their twelfth birthday, none fitting the bill, and with no other memories, our hero takes on a name: Em, for the M. Savage on her coffin. She will lead her crew into the corridors of their strange prison – if it even is a prison – where every hallway is strewn with the remains of the dead, and rooms hold horrors they would never want to see.  As their questions get answered, more questions are asked. Who are they, and what are they doing here? What do the marks mean? And are they alone?

The second I read “its my twelfth birthday”, I groaned internally. ‘ I assumed much too quickly that this was just another YA*… I was wrong, thank goodness! In less than a chapter, Sigler had managed to get me completely hooked. Already, every question that was out there made us want, no, need an answer. And he wasn’t going to just give it to us, no!

Now the difficult thing about this book is writing a review with no spoilers: the answers to the questions our heroes ask are astounding, and something you could not have anticipated at all. The best of all, however, is that the answers do not let you down. Frequently, a good book or show will ride on the intrigue to keep you reading, but when all is revealed, you feel cheated. For some, think Lost. What’s fantastic about Alive is that the answers enrich the novel and give it a whole other dimension. You don’t learn anything until near the very end, so the reveal actually leaves you asking more, wanting more.

Em herself is a fantastic lead. She’s smart, she’s insightful, and she’s flawed. It’s an incredible amount of growth for a character with no memories. She watches and judges, plans and fights, all the while trying to keep everyone together and proving herself to be an incredible leader. In her mind, she is still twelve, which means she has some quite interesting insights (mainly on modesty, she’s not a fan of her tight clothes) and remarks (she’s confused by white people skin for a while). I absolutely loved her. The internal turmoil after a defining moment is something you don’t get a lot of in novels these days: it’s either brushed over, or brought up every five minutes. Em is a great person to follow, and get to know.

Alive strikes balance in everything: it finds the balance between asking hundreds of questions and answering them, balance in a fast paced plot and internal turmoil, balance between good and evil. It’s bother horror survival and human growth. It may not be ‘the perfect novel’ (does it even exist?), but I could find nothing wrong with it, nothing negative to say at all. It was gripping and fun! It was surprisingly fast to read – possibly because I couldn’t put it down – and I loved piecing everything together with Em. This is definitely my favorite YA science fiction novel in a long, long time. First time I’ve read something as good in year! It was… awesome, for lack of a better word..

So if you’re looking for a great, fun, fast read this summer, you’re going to love Alive. Drop everything and start it now! Comes out today on amazon.

N.B. I just found out that this is the first in a trilogy. It ends in such a way that I had no idea! I’m super excited for the sequel, when do we get it?

*Not that I have anything against YA! It’s the whole “Cash Cow” mentally that’s bugging me these days. You can tell when a book is written just for the money of it, taking everything that appeals to the key demographic and shoving it together for optimum readership. Thankfully, this is not that book.