Windfallby Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Source: ARC from local blog tour
Rating: ★★★★ Amazon
Let luck find you.
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.
An ARC was read and passed on as part of JM’s (Book Freak Revelations) blog tour. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.
Jennifer E. Smith’s stories, along with Stephanie Perkin’s, were a few of the first YA contemporaries that I’ve read, and I enjoyed each one immensely. So in a way, they’re part of the building blocks why I fell in love with YA.
Because of all this, you don’t know how excited I was when I saw that Jennifer was releasing a new book. Aside from that, oh my god the title is so good, the cover is gorgeous, and the plot was cute! It also features the best friends to lovers trope which I am an absolute sucker for.
Let me be honest and say that I have mixed feelings with this one. Let me first tell you what worked for me:
I like that the book feels real, even with the grandeur and unlikeliness of winning the lottery. We were given relatable characters with flaws, we were shown true friendships, love, grief, and heartache. We were shown how real people react when winning the lottery (well except for Alice, but I understood her reasons).
I also love the family dynamics of Alice and Leo’s family. It is a delight to read about how supportive and loving Leo’s parents are, especially in terms of whatever they decide for their future. For me, those were the most endearing scenes in the book.
I shouldn’t say it, but I also absolutely adored Sawyer. It was already mentioned that I loved the best friends to lovers trope, but I think I love the underdogs more. I have a terrible case of the 2nd lead syndrome. I mean, he virtually planned a perfect date for Alice. He was funny, understanding, and a history geek. I mean, what more could you ask for.
And here are the things I didn’t enjoy as much:
I was honestly irritated with Teddy for 70% of the book. Teddy was careless of Alice’s feelings. He was self-absorbed, selfish, and immature. I could see how charming and confident he was, but it’s just too much. I was absolutely heartbroken for him though because he kept on believing in his dad who clearly only cares for himself and his addiction.
It wasn’t all that bad though because there were scenes that were so sweet, and inside jokes that work really well because Alice and him were best friends for so long.
I really enjoyed Leo and Max’s side story, but I think their story needed more exposure. It shouldn’t have been just a side story, I wanted more character development for both of them.
I still had fun reading Windfall, despite not liking the boy lead for three quarters of the book. I genuinely loved the friendship and family dynamics that the book has.
The story still has everything I like in a contemporary, it has light moments, as well as dark ones. It has the signature moments that you can’t help but smile at, and there is a happy ever after.
Sounds Like Summer by Six de los Reyes Publication Date: 2016 Source: Purchased Rating:★★★★ Amazon
It’s not just a weekend for Lux Castelo. She has a plan, of course.
Phase One: Escape to the beach for a music festival.
Phase Two: Deal with what she can’t control.
Phase Three: Return to reality whole and ready.
Nowhere in that plan is Micah Jacinto, self-proclaimed adventurer and the kind of boy with his head stuck in the clouds and the moon inked on his arm—everything her rational sense tells her to stay away from. And yet Lux finds herself welcoming the distraction. As they spend the entire weekend together, Micah leads her to rediscover the lost pieces of herself amidst the excitement and the confusion of a raving mosh pit.
But all weekends come to an end and Lux needs to return to the dreaded reality she’s running away from. Does being brave enough to leave summer behind mean being brave enough to ask Micah to stay?
I will be honest and say that it was hard for me to read this book, it was hard to write this review as well. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the book though, because I did, I appreciate it very much and I firmly believe that it needed to be written.
Let’s talk briefly about why this book had such an effect on me. I had always admired and kind of envied the people who already knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives, those people who can just decide and stick with it, because I know it will be hard for me to do that.
I recently finished my contract with a research project at my old uni, I held a position very similar to the one Lux had. This job left me physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and to be honest, I wasn’t really happy.
I am kind of in a limbo place right now, not really knowing what I want to do next. I do know that I would like to continue working in science, but that’s it. I am intimidated by the thought of trying, and trying, and trying, and never finding my niche. So yes, I didn’t like the head space that I got into when I was reading this, it hits too close to home, to all my doubts and my struggles.
“In the end, it’s never the big things that push you past the breaking point. It’s always the small rejections, frustrations that build with each repetition…”
So not only did the author perfectly capture the life and hardships of pursuing a career in science, she also did a good job in realistically encapsulating how a person functions or at least tries to when they have depression, add in the stress, the self doubt, the anxiety.
But the book wasn’t all about sadness or dark clouds, there were so many light and funny moments and banter. There were loud music, dancing, and bands. You’d also find so many familiar names from Six’s other books. It also featured avocado shakes, and the beach, it is a summer festival after all.
Lux is my person. I think, and act, and talk like her at least 95% of the time. Okay okay, I think she is funnier than me. She is currently taking her MS in Microbiology while also working as a reserch assistant. She’s really smart and really into music. She’s also a fangirl deep down. She was a little reserved at first, until Micah slowly but surely got through her walls.
Micah was very talkative, but he was also the perfect sounding board. He listens well and when he replies, he is very sincere and he says the things that will make you feel a little bit better. And I think you’d kind of maybe want to share more, share those that you can’t even say out loud. He brings the comic relief we all needed after feeling so much with Lux.
I was very touched by how sweet and perceptive Micah was when he chose the anchor tattoo so that Lux will no longer “float away”. That was definitely one of my favorite parts of this book. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think Micah and Lux fit together, Micah can be Lux’s light through her dark days, and Lux can be Micah’s family.
Perry is a very doting brother, I did not expect that! He is very cute at being protective though. Kris was a good friend to Perry and Lux, and I am just happy that they have him. I also really enjoyed Kara’s participation in this book. She didn’t make it more difficult for Lux, she even helped her as much as she could. I guess, she only wanted to contribute to Micah’s happiness, and for that I declare her a great friend!
So to summarize, the writing of this book was captivating, the characters were very real and relatable, and the story sends an urgent and relevant message. Six did a really wonderful job with this one. Loud applause.
Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes Publication Date: April 12, 2017 Source: ARC from the Author Rating:★★★★★ Amazon
Five-minute girlfriend. That’s what Jett signs up for when she meets Adrian and his band Arabella at beach music festival Summer Storm. One kiss and the attraction is too electric to ignore, but Jett has no room for love and Adrian is Mr. Relationship who’s getting over his recent breakup. The solution? Keep it simple. Keep it casual. For three months (that’s the rule about breakups, right?), Jett helps Adrian move on and Adrian shows up on Jett’s bed whenever she wants.
Then the three months are up and neither of them are in a hurry to be the first to leave. Does Jett walk away from a potential disaster or does she finally let someone into her closely-guarded heart?
I received an ARC of this book from the Author. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.
This is the second book in the author’s Summer Storm series. The book has a lighter and funner vibe than the first one, but both are important.
Let me just start this by saying that wow this book is very hot. I believe that out of all the books I’ve read from this author, this is the hottest one yet.
The 5-minute girlfriend and no strings attached premise were already very exciting, even without factoring in our go-getter MC and our singer LL. Also, the cover of the book perfectly represents the gamer girl and the band boy, it’s just gorgeous.
My most favorite thing about this book is honestly Jett (Sorry Adrian, Sorry Franklin! 😂).
It is so highly refreshing that we have an MC as strong and confident in her sexuality and her body as Jett, especially here in the Philippine-setting. She is one of the coolest girls I have ever read, and you’d think she can’t be any more cooler, but she can. Why? Because she works in a science museum, that’s why! In my opinion, that job is one of the most fun and rewarding jobs a person could have. This girl also takes no shit and is an experienced gamer!
I am so amazed that even though we’ve already established that she’s the coolest, she was still made very relatable by the author. I get it, I get her. She didn’t want to get too close to anybody and she wanted everything to be on her own terms because because she was hurt so many times, she was deeply hurt by her dad, and then Ziggy, the hard habit to break, happened.
"to all gamer girls out there na na-Ziggy" (de los Reyes, 2017)
Let’s talk about bb Adrian (Baedrian, if you will 😂)
How is Adrian perfect, let me count the ways. Aside from his wonderful singing voice, and the body he got from Michael Brian’s intervention, he is also patient, and vulnerable, and all out.
He is obsessed with cleaning which is a must for a husband (Jk, Jk!) The boy actually listens to what you’re saying, and doesn’t push himself on to you. He waits until you’re ready. Also, he maybe already kinda see through your bullshit, but he still loves you wholeheartedly.
Do you want to talk about Franklin’s puns and Michael’s Brians abs (and also other things)? Okay.
Franklin is the best thing ever, he is so lovable and funny. He breaks even the most awkward of situations. His best friend Michael Brian is witty, and very good looking, but he’s also a good friend and wing-man. Franklin and Michael Brian’s fights were so petty and funny.
The nicknames’ Fluffy, Sniffles, Sleepy, Intern, Baby Spice were so adorable and reminiscent of the seven dwarfs. 😂 Franklin and Kenny’s tag team during the first chapter was so charming and funny that you’ll be hooked to the story instantly.
Overall, this is a strong book, we have such an interesting and eclectic mix of people that blends so well, we have scenes that will make you hold on tight to your seat, and we have realizations that true love is there, you just need to not shoo it away.
PLEASE DON'T ATTACK ME WITH A LIGHT SABER. OR DO. UP TO YOU. 😂
Promdi Heart (Hometown Love Stories) by Georgette Gonzales, Agay Llanera , Chris Mariano, C.P. Santi , Jay E. Tria, Ines Bautista-Yao
Publication Date: March 9th 2017 Source: ARC from the Authors Rating:★★★★★ Amazon
Take a quick tour of the Philippines with six hometown love stories.
Visit Jimenez, Misamis Occidental where a priest might just set you up with a man whose dimples are to die for.
Visit Silay, Negros Occidental and get on a horse alongside hunky, hazel-eyed Negrense royalty.
Visit Kalibo, Aklan and find yourself in the arms of a cute drummer boy who just happens to be your kuya’s BFF.
Visit Hagonoy, Bulacan and spend All Saint’s Day next to a distracting boy who promises to write you a song.
Visit Vigan, Ilocos Norte and meet the hot man you used to bully when he was a shy, scrawny boy.
Visit Pundaquit, Zambales and find love in a bronzed fisherman whose eyes hold depths you’ll want to explore.
I received an ARC of this book from the Authors. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.
These past two months, I’ve been trying to do rounds and read more authors from the #RomanceClass community. That’s why I was very excited when the Promdi Heart ARC blog tour was announced. Not only will I be able to read six lovely stories from six Philippine provinces, I will also be reading the works of six different Filipino authors. I would also like to mention how much I love, and how gorgeous the cover of this anthology is! ❤
Only The Beginning by C.P. Santi
First, I’m quite convinced that Jimenez and Misamis Occidental is a lovely place to visit. I would especially like to go to the church where the priest, Father Danny, caught Andi (the MC) and Martin (the LL) eating donuts, did you know he also caught Tony and Rina there, once upon a time. I honestly laughed out loud at that scene.
My heart was very happy when I found out that Andi is Tony’s niece, because I have such a huge crush on Tony (see my review for Maybe This Time to see the entirety of my feels on Tony and Rina).
I loved the fact that Andi has a such a strong personality in this story, she’s also a little bit bitter and sarcastic (hugot girl indeed), while Martin is pretty chill and joke-y. This made their text messages and banters so entertaining and funny. I think that was my favorite part of the story! I don’t know about you, but my smile was so full when Andi called Martin, Dimples. Heehee.
I also like that Martin kept bringing food that his mom makes to Andi. Actually, I like that they were exchanging foods to send to each other’s home. In addition, Andi talking to his dad’s grave in the cemetery was really endearing.
Letters Abouy A Boy by Ines Bautista-Yao
I am so in love with the letter-themed writing of the story. In addition, the 1990’s time period, and the location (Silay,Negros Occidental) with its haciendas and horses, made it feel like I was reading a teleserye. It was really so fun to read.
Tin-tin was consistently entertaining and relatable throughout the story. I found her voice, so full of innocence and hope, quite refreshing. Her unrequited crush, that developed into love, was familiar. Honestly, didn’t we all go through that phase at one point in our lives? 😂
I also really appreciated that upon Nicolas’ realization that the one he truly loved was right in front of her, he didn’t dilly-dally. He immediately showed his intentions to Tin-tin, to be honest, enough time was already lost. I was easily won over by Nicolas after that, I mean, come on, the singing, the touches and that letter! That letter was super sweet, I can’t even!
Drummer Boy by Chris Mariano
Visiting the Ati-atihan had always been a thing I wanted to do since I was in elementary and we’d been taught about Philippine festivals. So to be smack-dab in the middle of all the Ati-Atihan action was something I really appreciated because at least I was living it vicariously through the story.
Reina’s narration was really funny, another thing that was funny was how his brother, Dex, insisted to come on Reina and Ben’s first date because he was trying to be the protective brother. Okay, that was so cute for me because I’ve always wanted an older brother.
I liked the fact that Ben first appeared very shy, albeit very hot with his drummer’s biceps, but then became very, very smooth and sweet after. I literally swooned when he described what the date could have gone like, if Dex didn’t come. I squealed out loud when he said, they’d stroll by the sea and he’d have to “drive home very, very carefully because by then I might be a little drunk on you”.
This story is already super sweet and nice, but I think there are still issues that were unresolved, like Reina and Ben finally deciding on what job they want to focus on, or Ben’s problems with his dad. I would really appreciate it if a longer story about Reina and Ben would be released someday.
One Certain Day by Jay E. Tria
I really appreciate and seriously needed this story because it’s set during All Saints Day in Hagonoy. I was feeling sad because I’ve missed the last two All Saints’ Day with my family. During 2015, I was in New York finishing a short course (check out my recap for my time in NY here). And last year, I needed to finish experiments in the lab so I worked overtime all through the holidays. My family, like theirs, is also always complete during this time of year, and sadly this is the only time I get to bond with my cousins.
I started liking Alice immediately when she talked about dressing up as Sailor Moon for Halloween, and when she mentioned Meg Cabot. She’s also shy and I relate to that.
Jose Antonio Luis Castillo is a really long name, and I found it funny how he shortened it to just Son. I already liked Son in the Playlist series but I really, really, really loved Son in this short story. The main reason is because he reminded me of Joon Hyung from a K-drama, titled Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, he was really touchy and he’d say things like “Hello. Panganibans of Hagonoy!” really loudly. He’d also share jokes and profound things, and then he’d look really smug and proud of himself afterwards. My heart melted at the song he wrote Alice!
I loved how their friendship, and then their feelings grew for each other even though they only meet once a year. It didn’t feel forced, it felt really right. So to tell you the truth, I was heartbroken by how it ended. But, I think they need this time to grow into their future selves, I believe their future selves will be right for each other. And, also Jay assured me they will, I trust her, ha-ha!
Once Upon A Bully by Georgette Gonzales
Vigan! Even though I’ve never been to this place, I already know that I will love it. Ahhhhhhhhh, the art, the old houses, the history, the FOOD! It’s so perfect!
Another thing that’s perfect about this story? Miguel! I really love Miguel’s character because even though he was bullied by Bridgette throughout elementary, and his parents also died, he still maintained a great attitude and disposition. He never fought back to Bridgette because he was taught not to, and he never harbored ill-feelings towards her. I will surely not turn out that way if those things happened to me. On top of that, he was really sweet and a little bit shy when wooing Bridgette!
I’m happy that Bridgette regretted the things she has done in the past, and was really apologetic. I really liked that their first date practically toured us around Vigan. Also, the ending where they teased Bridgette’s best friend was just the best!
Back to the Stars by Agay Llanera
Am I the only one who dreams of having a house in a beachfront? The MC of this story, Leah, owns one in Pundaquit, Zambales, and I think she’s very lucky!
I am really all for the childhood friends to lovers trope. This one is so endearing because you’ll see that Leah and Wency’s friendship really runs deep. You could also see how much it affected the both of them when Leah left.
I really loved their talks at the hill, they talked about so many things that resonated with me, and I wanted to highlight so many lines! I also loved that Wency called Leah out for talking bad of Corrine. I think girls shouldn’t bring other girls down.
Overall, I liked the writing, the pacing, and the ending of this one. I do wish it’s a little bit longer. I would totally read a full-length novel on Bridgette and Wency.
PS. I think Wenceslas name is so cool, and Botbot is an adorable nickname.
The Philippines is a beautiful, wondrous, and diverse country, culturally and geographically. This book is a gentle reminder that there are so many places left to be explored in our lovely country. Despite this fact, your hometown will always hold the most special place in your heart… just like this book. ❤
PS. If you are planning to take a vacation anytime soon, you could try playing this fun quiz made by the authors. It might help to bring this book with you too on your vacation, just saying. 😛