Blog Tour || Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date:
May 2nd 2017
Source:
ARC from local blog tour
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon

Synopsis

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.
“Guess I’m going through my abstract period,”

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.

Overall:

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.

ARC Review + Giveaway || How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017 by HMH BFYR
Source: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository

Synopsis

All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher as part of the Blog Tour. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

Okay, first of all, I’m glad that I seem to be in a diverse reads marathon because the past several books that I recently read features an LGBTQ+ main character. Another thing is that I was really looking forward to reading this one, not only because I loved Ashley’s Suffer Love, but also, the main character is bisexual which I can identify with.

For some reason, I liked that the story started with a conflict. Grace was forced to live with his ex-boyfriend, Jay, because her mom was currently dating Jay’s dad. Isn’t there anything more awkward? To add, Grace’s mother was also unstable, so she basically learned to be more independent than she should be. To top that, her mother develops a bond with Eva, the girl she likes, and Grace felt a little betrayed by that.

I think I fell in love with Grace and Eva too early, because I always anticipate for their scenes together. They’re just so lovely and their chemistry was strong. I quite enjoyed the fact that they hit it off quickly, and how the whole thing unfolded was enjoyable to read. Grace was also able to explore her feelings and sexuality throughout the book and it was delightful to read because Ashley nailed it with her writing.

“Here’s the thing about wishers: they’re always changing you. They’re either dying out or they’re realized, and then they’re not wishes anymore.”

Another thing I loved about the book was Luca and his personality! I love how supportive he was of Grace and that he always has her back, and vice versa. Also, Luca’s relationship with his mom was tight, and free. I enjoyed their occasional banter, and of course, sweet scenes together.

I guess the only issue I had with the book was how little the situation about Grace’s mom, Maggie, was resolved. I think there could have been a better resolution for her situation. Also, it may be a little odd, but I would have loved to have seen more of Jay, his dad, and the overall home situation. Though I guess, I would understand why Grace would prefer to be not at home at all. However, I enjoyed the little interactions Grace had with Jay, especially towards the end of the book.

Overall, this book didn’t disappoint. Blake’s writing flows freely in this character-driven book. She nailed writing different kinds of relationships and all of those were shown in this book. I totally recommend this one especially if you’re looking for a sweet, yet poignant f/f YA.

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Sounds Like Summer by Six de los Reyes

Sounds Like Summer by Six de los Reyes
Publication Date: 2016
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon

Synopsis

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.

PS: Trigger Warning for Self Harm