Windfall

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

3 stars

We’ve all had that thought. You know, what you would do if you won the lottery? The choices and actions you would make. This book answers that question, but more like if you won the lottery at a young age.

When Alice buys a lotto ticket for her best friend Teddy on his 18th birthday, the very last thing she expects is for him to win. But he does, making him the youngest lottery winner ever. Since both Alice and Teddy had a less than privileged upbringing, Teddy is overjoyed with his good fortune. They promise things will never change, but money has the ability to change everything….

I enjoyed this what if scenario in a teen book. I think most adult readers going into it can predict what will happen, but for younger readers it’s a good lesson on greed, responsibility and friendship. I had a hard time putting this one down, it’s a very interesting concept and reads very quickly. What I didn’t really care for was Teddy himself, I found him to be selfish and undeserving of most things in his life. And Alice seemed to be a bit of a doormat heroine.

This book will make you want to go out and buy a lotto ticket! A fun, fast read for any age.

The Dead List

The Dead List by Jennifer Armentrout

4.5 stars!

“Cardinals were Penn’s favorite…”

Just before the start of her senior year in high school, Ella is attacked after a party on her way home. She escapes because a childhood friend Jensen rescued her, but other girls have gone missing. Afraid, Ella decides to take self-defense classes, as her attacker doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

But as more and more people begin to disappear Ella begins to think these random acts aren’t so random, that they’re connected to something that happened in the past. Except the person related to all of this died, four years ago….

“Sometimes I needed to get my head out of real life, and reading was the best and quickest way to do it.”

I really enjoyed this book, thrillers normally aren’t my thing buy Armentrout writes them in such a way that I cannot figure out the villain and the plot isn’t predictable. It’s so refreshing because when I normally read a mystery/thriller I can pretty much figure out what’s happening about halfway in. A very compelling and engaging story, I was captivated by everything that was happening, from the attack on Ella at the beginning, her issues at school and the romance with her and Jensen.

I was freaked out that the killer wore a clown mask, that was just too creepy for me. Plus the descriptions of the sounds he made gave me the chills and I had to stop reading this book at night so I could get some sleep without nightmares. The romance between Jensen and Ella was so sweet, JLA writes the best heroes in her books. All of them are very swoonworthy and a tiny bit alpha.

This is a bit mature for YA so I would recommend to older teens and not younger ones, just with the murder and adult content I think this is better for older readers. Just depends on the reader. A fantastic and thrilling read, many people will love this novel of suspense and be guessing until the very end.

“I want to be that guy-the one that when your phone rings, you hope it’s me. The one who holds your hand in the hallway at lunch. The guy who gets to hold you. I want to be the one who gets to touch you. I want to be yours.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Art & Soul

Art & Soul by Brittainy C Cherry

4.5 stars!

“Love openly,” my heart whispered. “Love unconditionally,” my heart begged. “Love the struggles,” my heart taught. “Love in the moment.”

Art & Soul is a young adult novel about two teens who don’t quite fit in. Aria made one mistake, and now the school is labeling her a slut and a whore. Levi is the attractive guy who just moved from Alabama, but his looks don’t match his personality, he’s a kind soul and a little bit weird. The two are neighbors and assigned an art/music project together. Levi and Aria seem to like each other, but many outside forces seem to want to keep them apart.

“Sometimes it was so easy to forget that adults were just kids in bigger bodies, and their hearts broke just like ours.”

I tried one B Cherry book years ago and it wasn’t really for me. But two friends recommended this to me so I had to try it and I am so glad I did!!! This is the first young adult novel that is written by a new adult/romance author that actually frickin reads like a YA novel!!! I’m so impressed! I found myself giggling and smiling throughout so much of this book. I’m not normally one for sweet romances without angst, but this one wormed its way into my heart.

This reminds me a little bit of a sweeter Juno, you know without all the hipsters and weird slang. I loved the main characters, I loved the side characters, I hated the mean characters. Basically Cherry did my favorite thing: SHE DEVELOPED HER CHARACTERS. AND IT WAS AMAZING!

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. It was a little bit too sweet for me (because I don’t like sweet) but oddly, it really worked and I never rolled my eyes at it. I highly recommend if you haven’t read Cherry’s books, start with this one. I know I’ll be reading more of her soon.

“That’s the thing about the future, and the past even. They don’t exist in this moment. We only have the here and now. If we focus too much on the past or too heavily on the future, we miss out on our present desires, the things we want right now.”

The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertelli

4.5 stars!

“I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club and I’m wondering how mermaids pee.”

And with that opening line comes one of the cutest most relatable YA books I’ve read in a LONG time.

Molly has had several crushes over the years, but no kisses and no boyfriend. Molly is afraid of rejection and doesn’t want to put herself out there to be hurt, especially with the fact that she’s heavier than other girls. Her twin sister Cassie finds new love with a new girlfriend and leaves Molly feeling out of sorts. When Molly gets a new job at a cutesy store, she makes fast friends with a boy there named Reid. But Reid is kind of nerdy, and not at all the type to cause butterflies in the stomach. There’s no way Molly could have a crush on him too, right?

“I can’t seem to shake this perpetual awareness of being Molly.”

I friggin loved this book. Like, Molly is me when I was in high school!! Minus the Zoloft. I remember I thought I was so fat then, I always wore sweatshirts to hide my body. What I didn’t understand at the time was I had BOOBS and wasn’t fat at all, but I felt that way (if only I could go back to my HS body). Anyways, the point of sharing this is I feel Molly is easy for readers to relate to. Haven’t we all been afraid of rejection in some form or another? Molly just had trouble putting herself out there and needed to find strength within herself. And we don’t often get “chubby” female protagonists, and if we do the story is all about her losing weight, which wasn’t the case here and I loved it.

I also loved that her romantic interest didn’t fit traditional stereotypes, Reid was nerdy, not a gym rat and he accepted it. He owned it. I think this book portrays to its readers that you fall for the person and not always the pretty picture. I want my own real life Reid to come and sweep me away with his bright white sneakers and fondness of Queen Elizabeth I.

Molly’s interest in pinterest crafts made my fingers twitch to do the same, even though I am not super crafty. But I will be researching about putting cookie dough in mason jars because that’s just too good not to look up.

This book was very fast paced, I devoured it so so quickly. I loved this author’s first book Simon, and this one lived up to my expectations which rarely if ever happens. I cannot wait to read more from Albertelli.

My favorite quote from this book? (because it’s ME):

I read an advanced copy of this book

Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

3.75 stars

This is quite possibly the most bizarre book I’ve ever read. But I actually ended up liking it a lot.

Vassa in the Night is a book I would have never picked out for myself, but I got it in one of my Owlcrate’s and decided to give it a shot. I’ve been needing a change of pace with my genre’s lately, so I picked up this one.

And my god, this book is weird. BUT the writing style sucked me into the story and I felt like I got lost in the pages of this peculiar story.

“Why did it take me so many years to understand that Night is something you can talk to, something that might even decide to watch over you or kiss you just when you’re about to crumple from loneliness?”

The story begins when one of Vassa’s stepsisters asks her to go to the local convenience store to get light bulbs for their apartment. But Vassa’s Brooklyn isn’t like our regular Brooklyn, it’s one under the curse of longer nights and sparse days. And the local convenience store isn’t convenient at all, it’s a place that beheads shoplifters and hooligans, run by Babs Yagg.

Vassa might be able to break the curse Babs Yagg has on the neighborhood, but she also might get herself killed.

“No matter who I couldn’t save before, no matter if I’m stuck being a random mess of a girl, I’m still going to save something.”

Like I said before, this book is just plain weird. But at the same time it’s enchanting. I went into this book expecting not to like it based on numerous negative reviews and a low average rating, so imagine my surprise when I just couldn’t put it down.

I have no clue who I would recommend this one to, it’s a hit or a miss for a lot of people. The only real negative thing I have to say about this book is the plot wasn’t very coherent. While I enjoyed reading this very much, there were lots of times where I thought to myself “what the heck is happening right now?”.

Sarah Porter is a brilliant writer, talented at what she does. I would be happy to read more by her in the future and see the world through her unique eyes again.

“You don’t have to be human to be a person. I mean you don’t have to be human to be somebody. I don’t know you that well, but you seem like way more of a somebody than lots of humans I know! Really.”

Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

1 star

Me giving out a 1 star rating to a book is so rare, and yet this book just fills me with ragey feelings. So be warned, whatever I say will be ragey and spoilery.

I was excited to read Three Dark Crowns, it was my second ever Owlcrate book, written by an author I like and had an interesting premise. But OH MY GOD this book was awful. I don’t understand how you can have almost 400 pages and still never manage to develop a single character. The first half of the book was boring and a tad but confusing, and it really didn’t pick up until the last half and that part of the book just made me angry.

And the romance.

Giant middle finger to the romance. Too much time spent on cheating and deceiving than actually developing what was there. Too much self pity and too many doormats.

So obviously, I hated it. Can’t think of a single person I would recommend this too. I have zero desire to read the next book.

Thanks for reading my rambling ragey rant.

You’re Welcome, Universe

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

3 stars

This book started out strong and then midway through kind of fell off for me. It’s about a deaf teenager named Julia who likes spray paint art. When there is a graffiti tag insulting her best friend she covers it up with her own art, and then gets expelled from her school for it. Now she’s in a new school with no friends, one that isn’t for deaf students so she needs an interpreter. Julia is having a hard time and doesn’t fit in, and doesn’t want to fit in.

I think Whitney Gardner nailed the portrayal of a perspective from a deaf teen because this book wasn’t about that only, the story was more about fitting in at a new school and her struggles with her art and the illegal side of it. I also think Gardner presents interesting ideas and perspectives about graffiti versus tagging, the art side of it and the not so great parts.

Ultimately this book didn’t work for me because halfway through I was a bit bored, and near the end I felt a lot was unresolved. I also stopped caring what happened with the characters which is sad because they started out the book pretty strong.

An arc was provided in exchange for an honest review

By Your Side

By Your Side by Kasie West

3.5 stars

Kasie West is one of those authors who I will read anything she writes. I preordered this book and found time to read it. I enjoyed this story, but she’s given us better. I do think lots of teens will relate to the characters in this book, the MC with her anxiety disorder, and the love interest in foster care. But I felt she could have gone a bit deeper, everything felt very surface level when dealing with issues. Like a teen afternoon special on TV.

I have to get one thing off my chest, I have worked in libraries for 13 years, we do extensive checks before closing the building AND it is a violation of safety codes no to have an emergency exit in a building. So the whole getting stuck in the library thing I had to really bust out the suspension of disbelief. (Yes I understand it was all for the story, but it was too much for me).

The Edge of Everything

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

3 stars!

“If you kill him, you’re as bad as he is,” Zoe said. “It’s not our job to punish people.”
X lowered his head.
“Perhaps it is not yours.”

The Edge of Everything is one of the more gruesome young adult novels I’ve ever come across. One of the more unique ones too. It’s the story of a creature named X who is a sort of supernatural bounty hunter who encounters a family one night when he is sent to claim a soul. X becomes attached to them and the teenage Zoe and it changes everything about the world he knows.

First off, I enjoyed this book, but it was a little bit too grim and dark for me. I do think it will be a gigantic hit amongst many of those who read in the YA genre. It’s very unique and very descriptive, Giles has a very cunning mind. There were moments when I actually felt nauseous from the descriptions and that’s the mark of a fantastic writer!

I loved the character of X and his story, the creepy and harsh world he was raised in. X was the best part about this book for me. Zoe, well. She’s a teenage girl and she was written like one, which means she grated my nerves a bit, but ultimately she was a very realistic teen character. I would have liked to see more growth from her throughout the progression of the story.

My other favorite parts were the characters Ripper and Banger, they were so much fun to read about and I kind of hope they get their own novellas and/or novels.

I do think a lot of people will love and embrace this book.

An ARC was provided

Holding Up The Universe

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

4 stars!

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

This book shocked me with how much I enjoyed it! Holding Up the Universe is about Libby and Jack. A couple years back Libby had gained so much weight that she needed to be rescued from her house to be saved. Jack has a secret, he cannot recognize faces, not even his own.

The two become connected after Jack does something he regrets, and a friendship begins. Through friendship becomes an attraction, but both have personal barriers they need to get past.

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

I really enjoyed this book, way more than I thought I would. I am not a fan of All the Bright Places, it was one of those books where everyone loved it except me. But I was intrigued by this book and I liked Niven’s writing style so I wanted to give it a shot. I myself am overweight, and while I am nowhere near Libby’s size I could easily relate to a lot of what she was going through, even though I am an adult. High school is hard enough without adding in the fat shaming factor and I really admired her strength and tenacity when dealing with the hateful comments of others.

Jack’s story was very interesting, I knew little to nothing about face blindness before reading this book. I think Niven did a great job of describing what day to day life would be like living with this condition. Jack himself was one thing I didn’t love about this book. He had a lot of growth by the end, but ultimately I still feel Libby deserves a better guy than him.

Beautifully written, Niven has sold me on anything else YA she writes in the future. I always love when an author has a book I didn’t connect with has the ability to write something different, it shows variety in her writing style.

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

Steelheart

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

4 stars!

Steelheart is about a boy named David who watched his father murdered by the Epic named Steelheart. Epics are advanced beings that came to earth and took over, like super villains instead of superheroes. Now ten years later Steelheart rules Newcago and the city remains in a constant state of darkness. David has thought of nothing but revenge for the last decade and needs the help of a group named the Reckoners to carry out his plan.

David is tentatively accepted by the Reckoners, but he must convince them that he is useful to their group.

“Sometimes, son,” my father said, prying my fingers free, “you have to help the heroes along.”

I really enjoyed this book, the prologue was just phenomenal and mind blowing. Reading that I knew this would be a good book. To me this book had a very Watchmen feel to it, but instead of the Epics being the center storyline it’s the humans fighting super villains. I definitely want to know more about how the Epics came to be and see more shades of gray in that area.

The only reason I didn’t love this book and simply really enjoyed it, was there were some information overload moments that went a bot beyond my comprehension. I know it all had meaning to the plot and I was definitely wowed by the end with how some things came together. But those parts I kind of set down the book and walked away for a bit.

Anyways, the end of this book just left me wanting more, so I am off to start the next one!!! Yay!

“I know, better than anyone else, that there are no heroes coming to save us. There are no good Epics. None of them protect us. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

3.75 stars!

“Just because you’re strong doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help sometimes. Remember that.”

This book is the straight version of Simon Vs. the Homo-sapiens Agenda, and while they are very similar, it actually didn’t bother me that much. I enjoyed each book for different reasons.

Tell Me Three Things is about a girl named Jessie whose mother died a couple years ago and now her father has found new love. This means selling her childhood home and moving to LA to live with her new stepmother and stepbrother and leaving everything she knows behind. A few days into her new school and Jessie gets an anonymous message, reaching out to her to help her, but never divulging their identity.

Jessie begins to rely more and more on SN, and as time goes by adjusting to her new school gets easier.

“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”

I think this is a book a lot of teens (and adults) can relate to because it’s all about coping in new environments and feeling like you’re alone. Jessie is a very relatable character, trying to navigate a new school and a whole new family when she feels no one is on her side.

I will say I guessed who SN was fairly easily, I won’t tell you how because spoilers. But even pretty much knowing who it was I enjoyed the book. I wish more had been developed in this book, like Jessie’s relationship with her dad and her new family, I felt a lot of that was brushed over or quickly wrapped up. It was a huge part of her life and it seemed second to her issues in high school (which were just as bad, but still).

A quick read if you want to read something cute with a good ending.

“Other people can’t make you feel stupid. Only you can.”

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

2 stars

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”

Being a giant fan of Marissa Meyer and her Cinder series, it’s incredibly disheartening that I didn’t like this book. BUT a bit to my fault, I found out after starting this book that the style has been compared to Gregory Maguire, the author herself said that was the inspiration.

I friggin hate Gregory Maguire’s books. So I think this book was doomed for me from the start.

I love the idea and concept of Heartless, the prequel to Alice in Wonderland. The story of the famous villain the Queen of Hearts.

If you watched the movie growing up, you are familiar with her heart full of venom and hate. This book gave us the story of how she came to be that way (meaning obviously it’s not the happiest of tales).

Heartless is the story of a girl named Catherine who wants to open a bakery with her friend. Her mother has higher hopes for her and wants her to marry the King. While at one of the palace balls, Cath meets the new Joker, Jest and is enchanted by him.

Over time it becomes more and more clear to Cath that she wants a life with Jest and not the King, but she’s tangled in a web with the King and her family and feels hopeless in controlling her own life.

“Sometimes your heart is the only thing worth listening to.”

As you can tell, I didn’t love this book. I felt it was drawn out and near the end I was speed reading to just get it over with already. The beginning of the book was so slow and then everything was rushed together at the end of the book, I wish the pacing had been better. I also didn’t connect to a single character in the book, nor did I feel sympathetic for them (and I think as readers we were intended to).

The thing I liked most about it was the concept and I think Meyer did a fantastic job of making the characters her own. But a lot of things felt obvious and unoriginal, and I didn’t actually feel the love between Cath and Jest. Which is sad because I think Meyer delivered brilliant romances in the Cinder series.

I think fans of Gregory Maguire will enjoy this book, but it was not to my tastes or liking at all. It’s as simple as that.

“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”

The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

4 stars!

“You have to try. You have to take your chances. Go and attempt and see what happens. And even if you fail – especially if you fail – come back with your experience and your hard-won knowledge and a story you can tell. And then later you can say, without regret or hesitation… ‘Once, I dared to dare greatly”

Morgan Matson has proven once again she is the queen of contemporary young adult novels for girls. This book is the story of Andie, responsible daughter of a politician recently under fire from the press. When her scheduled summer plans fall through, she’s left without a plan for what to do with her life for the summer. Every one of her friends already have plans, and Andie finds a job as a dog walker. What lies ahead is a summer of learning new things, romance and the test of friendship.

“I could do this. If whole galaxies could change, so could I.”

I really enjoyed this book, I think like Matson’s other books it gives teen readers a hint that life isn’t all you plan it to be and to sometimes let things go and see what happens. The beginning was pretty slow, I really had to push to get to a point where the book really flowed. My favorite parts of the book were when Andie and her father spent time together and learning more about the character of Clark. I like that the author brought in a quirky, nerdy hero instead of some kind of life guard stud or something. Yay for the nerd boys!

I was very much enthralled by the book, but once I put it down I noticed some things didn’t match up entirely. There were subplots that seemed to go nowhere, friendship drama that seemed unnecessary except for the sake of drama, and this book was way too long. I had a few moments where I wondered if long paragraphs were important to the plot (spoiler alert, they weren’t). But this is a fantastic teen contemporary read, great for the summer time. Once I got in the flow of things I found it hard to put this book down!

“The idea that you could rethink the thing you’d always thought you wanted and change your plan – it was almost a revolutionary concept. That you could choose what would make you happy, not successful.”

Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

3.5 stars

Gender fluid: a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances. -Source: gender wiki

This is an incredibly interesting book and I learned a lot of new terms and subjects, as well as it changed the way I think about other people. This is the story of Riley, a gender fluid individual who is struggling to cope with anxiety and other issues such as starting at a new school.

When Riley’s therapist suggests starting an anonymous blog, Riley is shocked when it becomes popular. But then someone discovers that Riley runs the blog, and everything just sort of explodes from there.

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

I think this is an important book, like I said earlier I learned a lot from it and think others will too. My issue with it was it was more information strong than plot strong. I learned all of these things, but I don’t feel there was much of a story. The side characters were there only to enhance Riley, and there were a few personal tidbits thrown in, but they didn’t feel real to me. Just there to supplement Riley’s issues.

I also felt for a teen struggling with issues of gender fluidity that Riley was very in touch with his/her thoughts and had way more insight than a struggling teen would have (this is just my opinion everyone, I can already feel people ready to argue with me). Plus the story always had perfectly timed issues where something would happen and I found myself thinking “wow that’s convenient timing.”

I sound like a grump. I did like this book, but sitting down after reading it I found way too many head scratching moments to really love it. The surface of the story was scatched but I felt it could have gone much deeper. I wish for more with the parents, more of a development of Bec and Solo, heck even Vickers. BUT many teens will love this, and I hope the right teens read it and it changes the way they think. I know I found myself wanting to know Riley’s gender at the beginning before thinking later that it didn’t matter. And I will do my best not to put people into categories.

“I can’t blame you for trying to categorize me. It’s a human instinct. It’s why scientists are, to this day, completely flabbergasted by the duck-billed platypus: it’s furry like a mammal, but lays eggs like a bird. It defies conventional classification.
I AM THE PLATYPUS (Coo coo ka-choo)”