Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

Windfall

Windfall

Release date: May 2nd 2017

3.5 stars

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

This book was very typical Jennifer E Smith, in the best ways possible. It was a light read with quirky characters and that familiar writing style that has me reading until the last page. It dealt with a lot of topics other than just focusing on an eighteen-year-old winning a massive lottery and it changing his life. It dealt with death, survivor’s guilt, first love, heartbreak. I thought the book did a wonderful job showing how different people would react to winning and how they would choose to spend the money, which Jennifer E Smith was able to do by having her main character be the friend who bought the lottery ticket instead of the person who won.

Alice was a character I found myself both relating to and not quite understanding. Loving seeing her friend happy, worried he would change with all that money, worried people would use him, not wanting to confess her feelings, all those I got. Even being afraid of accepting some of the money in fear it would change her I could understand. The part I had a hard time with was that she could be very judgemental but that was part of her growth arc. With Teddy, we got to see his growth arc through Alice’s eyes and he had to learn what having all that money meant to the people who were suddenly appearing in his life. I couldn’t blame him for going a little crazy with it all at first. Even the adult in me knows I would too.

I love the friendship between Alice, Teddy, and Leo. They were a perfect balance to each other. Leo was very practical and seemed a lot more mature than the other two. Alice was a good girl, trying to make her late parents proud with her volunteer work but still looking to find who she really was. Teddy was the more brash and impulsive of the three of them and was the one often reminding the other two to have fun. The friendship was strong between these three, even with the feelings between Alice and Teddy. I liked that Leo wasn’t easily shoved to the side the second something started to develop between Alice and Teddy.

The plot went pretty much where I was expecting it to go but it was still a fun reading journey. It did a good job balancing the more fun aspects of the story like an eighteen year old suddenly having so much money and going a little crazy with it to and the more serious tones like Alice still dealing with the deaths of her parents and the downside to having all that money. It was a quick read and I would definitely say this is one of my favourite Jennifer E Smith books so far.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

1 Comment

Filed under book-related, books, reviews, talking books, ya books

Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

The Color Project

The Color Project

Release date: July 18th 2017

Goodreads: Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.
Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.
When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

Why I’m excited: The synopsis goes on to say for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, two of my auto-buy contemporary authors. Here’s hoping it lives up to that praise.

1 Comment

Filed under book-related, books, talking books, TBR books, waiting on wednesday, WoW, ya books

Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

I binged watched 13 Reasons Why this weekend. That was…it just was. How do you describe something like that?

Currently reading: Warbringer

Finished reading: Once and For AllHouse of Furiesone-of-us-is-lyingWindfall

Reviewed: traitors-kissRamona Blue

What I’m hoping to get to next week: inconceivable-life-of-quinnDefy the Stars to read

one-of-us-is-lyingWindfall to review

Books read it 2017: 60

Debut authors read in 2017: 18

1 Comment

Filed under book-related, books, favorite book, reading recap, talking books, TBR books, wrapup, ya books

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten unique books I’ve read. Or, at least they were unique at the time I’d read them.

10. challenger deep Challenger Deep – Neal Shusterman. This book is unique is many ways. It was one of the first books I’d ever read with a teenager character dealing with a mental illness and the use of the dual POV to portray the real world vs what the world was to the main character was fantastic.

9. symptoms of being human Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin. I think this is still the only book I’ve read where the gender of the main character wasn’t stated as boy or girl.

8. under the never sky big Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi. I’ve read a lot of Dystopians now but this was one of the first series I read, is still a favourite, and I love the blending Dystopian and Sci-Fi.

7. goodbye The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Cynthia Hand. This one is unique for the way it affected me. Even when I find myself connecting with a book, it’s still rare that it affects me to the point where I’m shaking and my chest actually hurts.

6. salt to the sea Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys. I feel like any of Ruta Sepetys’ books could make my list. I love that she takes lesser known parts of history and molds them into her stories.

5. 9780399175411_OutrunTheMoon_BOM.indd Outrun the Moon – Stacey Lee. She’s another author I feel like most of her books could make this list. I love the blending of historical events with the culture of the characters.

4. rebel of the sands Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton. There were a few westerns I could have chosen but this one stood out with the setting.

3. burned big Burned – Ellen Hopkins. Her writing style is just so unique.

2. Raven boys big The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater. Everything about this book is so unique and I loved every bit of it.

  1. harry potter Harry Potter – JK Rowling. I feel like I put HP on every list but this series is so unique and so special that even 20 years after the first book, new fans are coming into it and falling in love, fans grab on to any bit of extra information released, and it’s a series that will never die.

6 Comments

Filed under book lists, book-related, books, favorite book, talking books, top ten, top ten tuesday, ya books

Book Review: The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beatty

traitors-kiss

The Traitor’s Kiss

Release date: May 9th 2017

3 stars

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

This was one book that I was really excited for when I’d first heard about it so when I found myself having a hard time connecting with the characters and getting into the book as a whole, it was disappointing. It felt very slow, which I’m usually fine with as long as there’s great character dynamics and world building. But both of those elements really felt like they were lacking so there was nothing to make up for the slow pacing.

Sage was not a character who really drew me in to her story. She was a very judgmental girl, especially toward other girls, and I wasn’t a fan of the way she thought she was better than them because she was a tomboy with no interest in boys and they liked things like make-up. I’m not a fan of the heroine continuously putting down other girls just so she stands out as different. It felt like one of those “all the boys like her because she’s so different, which makes all the girls hate her” trope that I really, really dislike.

If I had connected more with Sage, I think there’d be a chance I would have liked the book more, or at least been more forgiving of the slow pace and lack of interesting character dynamics. It ended up being pretty predictable, which could also be because I have read so many fantasy books in the last year or so that it feels like not much surprises me anymore. There were glimpses of potential for some great supporting characters.

I will likely pick up the sequel when it comes out to see where the author takes the story, to see if my theories are right, and because I hate leaving a series unfinished.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

1 Comment

Filed under book-related, books, reviews, talking books, ya books

Book Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

Release date: May 9th 2017

2.5 stars

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

So far Julie Murphy has been pretty hit or miss with me. I wasn’t a fan of Side Effects May Vary but I loved Dumplin’. Ramona Blue had the potential to be on either side and, unfortunately, the more I read, the more I found myself thinking it belonged with Side Effects May Vary in terms of enjoyment. The pacing was slow, it felt like it was really dragging in the middle, and so many characters had very little development.

I think this will be one of those books that ends up dividing readers. Ramona was a girl who had always identified as a lesbian who started to have confusing feelings for a childhood friend who’d come back to town – and that friend was male. Her journey of exploring what those feelings meant and what it meant for it is not something I feel like I have a right to comment on, even with it being a fictional character. I did enjoy her relationship with her sister and her two friends Ruth and Saul, and the dynamic between Ramona and Freddie’s grandmother was something I wish we’d gotten a lot more of.

The supporting characters were where this book lost me the most. None of them were very developed. There were a lot of them but they could have been condensed into two more well-rounded characters. They were fun and I liked them but they were mostly just there and had very little to do with the plot except for when Ramona needed a sounding board. I do wish we’d gotten more of Adam in some fashion, whom I got very attached to even with his limited page time.

I did expect swimming to play more of a role in the book, based on the synopsis. It was present and it was something Ramona loved but for the most part it was in the background compared to her arc and her family. The swimming and the training was another thing I wish we’d gotten to see more of during the book. Overall, I think the book tried to focus a little on too much instead of choosing a few things to focus a lot on.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

1 Comment

Filed under book-related, books, reviews, talking books, ya books

Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

The Gauntlet

The Gauntlet

Release date: May 23rd 2017

Goodreads: Cora and her friends have escaped the Kindred station and landed at Armstrong—a supposed safe haven on a small moon—where they plan to regroup and figure out how to win the Gauntlet, the challenging competition to prove humanity’s intelligence and set them free. But Armstrong is no paradise; ruled by a power-hungry sheriff, it’s a violent world where the teens are enslaved and put to work in mines. As Nok’s due date grows closer, and Mali and Leon journey across space to rescue Cassian, the former inhabitants of the cage are up against impossible odds.
With the whole universe at stake, Cora will do whatever it takes, including pushing her body and mind to the breaking point, to escape Armstrong and run the Gauntlet. But it isn’t just a deranged sheriff she has to overcome: the other intelligent species—the Axion, Kindred, Gatherers, and Mosca—all have their own reasons to stop her. Not knowing who to trust, Cora must rely on her own instincts to win the competition, which could change the world—though it might destroy her in the process.

Why I’m excited: This series snuck up on me with how much I ended up enjoying it. I’m not sure I’m ready for it to end but this is it.

Leave a comment

Filed under book-related, books, talking books, TBR books, waiting on wednesday, WoW, ya books

Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

This week is a busy week and it will be hard finding the time to keep up my reading pace but I will succeed!

Currently reading: Windfall

Finished reading: See Metraitors-kissRamona BlueThe Midnight Dance

Reviewed: imageimage

What I’m hoping to get to next week: one-of-us-is-lyingHouse of Furies to read

Ramona Bluetraitors-kiss to review

Books read it 2017: 55

Debut authors read in 2017: 17

Leave a comment

Filed under book-related, books, talking books, TBR books, wrapup, ya books

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten fandoms I’m in. Some are specific, some are not. Some might only be a fandom in my head.

10. firefly Firefly. For a show that lasted only a season and a movie, it sure has a lasting fanbase.

9. goodbyegoodbye-daysall the bright places Tearjerkers. This is one of those “maybe it’s only a fandom to me” ones but I love tearjerkers, the kind that rip your heart to shreds and if they feel nice, they might put a few pieces back together.

8. throne of glass big Throne of Glass. It’s one of my favourite series so how could I not be a member of its fandom?

7. vampire academy big Vampire books/TV/movies. There seems to be less and less new stuff available but Vampire Academy and Buffy will always be a go-to. And there’s new YA Buffy books that I’m both nervous and excited about.

6. hamilton Broadway. Hamilton is a pretty new obsession, and the more dominant aspect of my Broadway fandom right now but there’s so many plays that have pulled me into this one.

5. darkest minds The Darkest Minds. I’m hoping to see this fandom really grow once the movie starts filming and we start seeing pictures and clips.

4. code-black Medical shows. If it’s a medical show and it’s decent, I will become addicted and annoy people by talking about it so much.

3. charmed Charmed. Another show that’s no longer on the air but I am still obsessed over and binge watch reruns.

2. lion Narnia. This series was one of my first box sets and it has stayed with me ever since.

  1. harry potter Harry potter. This fandom will never die.

13 Comments

Filed under book lists, book-related, books, favorite book, talking books, top ten, top ten tuesday, ya books

Book Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

image

Wild Beauty

Release date: October 3rd 2017

4.5 stars

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.
The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Part of me feels like the only thing to say about this book is Anna-Marie McLemore does it again. I loved her debut The Weight of Feathers. There’s something absolutely magical about her writing and where it transports the reader. I wanted to visit La Pradera, maybe never leave it. It was described so perfectly that it was easy to picture it in my head.

This is one of those types of books where I worry about saying too much in a review because I don’t want to give away even the tiniest plot hint. I loved the characters, I loved the romance, I loved the setting. I didn’t think I would enjoy this one as much as The Weight of Feathers because that one was amazing, but somehow, this one ended up being my favourite of the two. I went in with really high expectations based on The Weight of Feathers and Anna-Marie McLemore managed to not only exceed them, she pole-vaulted over them.

It’s still very early in the year but I have a feeling this one will land on my top ten of 2017.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

1 Comment

Filed under book-related, books, favorite book, reviews, talking books, ya books