Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 22

Hello, everyone! I'm actually getting this post up nice and early this morning for a change! Beyond these two great books I'm featuring this week, I want to give some short announcements into what's coming up for the blog. Next week, I'll be changing the review format, still sharing two books a week, but posting one on Wednesday and one on Sunday. Be sure to follow us on social media for special sneak peaks into the weeks ahead. 
Also, I've been getting some exciting ARCs that I can't wait to talk about with everyone! Expect to see more post featuring these as it gets further into the year. Right now, I can share that I have finished posts for two awesome books, Sunshine is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan and A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck, which I'll share closer to the books publication, and there are many more early reviews in the works! Following us on Twitter (@readwriteandme) is a great way to hear about the books I'm currently reading and sneak peaks for future posts!



Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (419 pages)
Overview: Could anyone imagine buying a lottery ticket and actually winning? Neither could Alice when she bought her friend Teddy a ticket for his eighteenth birthday as a cute gift. But when Teddy catches the newscaster announcing the winning numbers, Alice confirms those are her numbers. The only problem is that Teddy lost the ticket. After some frantic digging, the pair recovers the ticket and goes on to claim the prize. Even though Teddy has come into tens of millions of dollars, Alice refuses to accept the half he offers her for choosing the winning numbers. She's afraid of the change it may bring. Teddy's already over confident attitude is bolstered by his newfound riches which brings him both expendable money he's never had and five seconds of fame. Will this push away his friends, Alice and Leo? Will the shift among his peers make him regret his choices? Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed the main characters, Leo, Teddy, and Alice. While they all are confronted with the main issue of the lottery winnings, Smith also gives each character their own storylines that mix with the main plot. Alice struggles with the loss of her both her parents nine years ago and her feelings about the patchwork family she has with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, Leo. She also struggles with whether she's formed her life too strongly around her parents old passions and dreams instead of what she wants.
Leo, Alice's cousin, struggles with his long distance relationship with boyfriend Max. He is forced to make tough decisions between his old, and still current, dream of going to the Art Institute in Chicago and moving closer to his boyfriend in Michigan in hopes of saving their relationship.
Teddy struggles with how to deal with his newfound riches, but also his broke, absentee father for whom he feels both obligated to help and done with. These complexities work to make interesting and compelling characters, but they seemed to lack a certain grounding weight that would have made them amazing.

Plot: 4 The story was interesting. It follows the three teenagers trying to grapple with either coming into an insane amount of money from having none, or having a close friend experience this. The plot takes you through the strain it put on the relationships along with the natural struggles that already exist in the lives of the three eighteen year olds. At some points, the story seemed to slightly loose its grounding and become a bit outlandish, but overall, it was engaging.

Writing: 4 I enjoyed Smith's writing style. It is light, breezy, and easy to read. I also thought the chapter length had nice variation which encouraged fast reading. This book that had over 100 more pages than the other book listed took me far less time. For a book about winning the lottery, Smith did a pretty good job with plausibility, though there were a few instances where Teddy felt more like a caricature than a person. Overall, this was a fun, easy read perfect for filling the long summer days.


The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares (295 pages)
Overview: At one time Lila Harris was married to Robert Thomas. During this time they had three daughters together, Emma, Quinn, and Mattie. Unfortunately the marriage ended in a messy divorce that left the couple unable to coexist. Their daughters moved back and forth between their wealthy father and free spirited mother for most of their lives, but they are all adults now leaving Lila with her second husband, Adam, and son Ray and Robert with his wife Evie and daughter Sasha. Over the course of the summer, the militant divide that was drawn so harshly they alternated weeks on the summer home never crossing paths starts to weaken. Can joy repair their fractured family and find some resemblance of mutual respect, or will tragedy have to strike to make them reevaluate their petty ways? Overall: 3.5

Characters: 4 The characters created some interesting studies and relationships, though some fell flat. There was some issues with developing the characters, though that probably stemmed from the sheer number of characters the omniscient narrator drew to the forefront. I felt most of the development was either missing or rushed.

Plot: 3.5 The plot was honestly why I kept reading. It held my interest and provided some unexpected twists. Seeing the family dynamic change with the eb and flow of events was interesting. Where I nock it is that there were so many things going on, so many plots and subplots it was at time hard to follow, and in chasing certain subplots, I feel the author lost sight of the main goal of the story.

Writing: 3 I personally did not enjoy the style of the book. It did grow into it's omniscient voice into a useful way as the book progressed, but it never lost its sense of heaviness from and over description I found condescending. I subscribe to the belief that you have to trust the reader to form a picture in their mind, so the deep, detailed descriptions, speaker tags, and overall tone was a bit off-putting.
My other issue with this book is how confusing it was at the beginning to slip into. Being presented with the complex family tree at the beginning gave me the urge that I needed to study and memorize the chart. And that would have been helpful. For the first fifty pages or so, I found myself consulting it to try to place all the names to the family groupings. I found it confusing and made it impossible for me to fall into the story. Being introduced to eleven major characters from the very start and having to figure out how they all fit together is a challenge. I understand these characters all had to be present to create the intense fractured family set up for the story, but it might have been better served to focus in on one character and his or her observations/ interactions instead of trying to give each a subplot.

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

More Than Maybe Review

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (May 2020)
Overview: Vada works at a dive bar, scraping together money for college and learning about running from a show her soon to be step-dad to get closer to her future dreams. She also runs the Loud Lizard's successful music blog Behind the Music. Vada is about to head off to LA and start working towards her music journalism dreams, but she has to make it through senior year first. Luke Greenly is the son of famous British punk rocker, Charlie Greenly. The whole family has set down roots in Michigan where his mom works at the university, but remnants of his dad's past life still follow them. Luke loves writing songs but hates performing, and, because of his dad, he's been thrust into the spotlight more than he'd like. For now, he'd rather stick to making successful podcast The Grass Is Greenly with his twin brother, Cullen, and hopelessly pining after Vada through stalking Behind the Music. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Vada is a charact…

Top 10 of 2019: All the YA Love

We're winding down 2019, so it's time to get reflective on the past year. It feels like multiple lifetimes have happened in this single year. It was one of the best years for the blog that I've ever had. Even though I might have read less this year, I expanded my interviews and guests posts, got to work closely with some wonderful writers, and fell further in love with the YA community. A huge thank you to everyone in the Novel19s for working with me, being so kind, and putting out some of the best books I've ever read. In the next few weeks, I'll be posting more about the future I see for the blog going into 2020 and it's third year, but, for now, let's celebrate all the amazing stories 2020 has brought to us! I did my Reading, Writing, and Me book awards recently which honored over 20 books in tons of different categories so if you need last minute holiday shopping inspiration, check out this list and the earlier one!

1. Permanent Record
I have not stoppe…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Queen of Geek Review

Queen of Geek by Jen Wilde
Overview: Charlie is a famous You Tuber whose indie film has exploded in popularity. It's landed her at SupaCon in San Diego with two of her best friends. While there, Taylor and Jamie try to find a way for Taylor to meet her favorite author, and Charlie has to do tons of press with her exboyfriend. Luckily, though, the magic of the con brings them all some good luck and memorable moments. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Charlie is so much fun. She's confident, has pink hair, and is full of life. She has some interesting commentary on being famous and also on how fandom works when people ship actors together in real life.
Taylor has anxiety and is on the autism spectrum. She's the biggest fan of the Firestone series, but winning the contests to meet the author requires her to step way outside of her comfort zone. With Jamie by her side, she reclaims a lot of confidence and makes the con her own.

Plot: 4 If you love books about celebrity and cons, you'…

I Got Rid of (Almost) All My Books

On Twitter, everyone loves to joke about their TBR piles that are heading to swallow them whole. We talk about buying way too many books. They're like personality traits for book bloggers and book community members, but we don't really talk about the reality of that. Running the blog for close to three years, it was starting to stare me in the face in the form of heaps and heaps of books. Books everywhere. Shoved onto my tiny bookshelf, stacked on top of it, piled on my nightstand, piled on the floor, and lining my long windowsill. I woke up one morning and decided it felt like the books were slowly creeping in and stealing all the oxygen. So I decided to do something about it. I gathered together all the boxes floating around in the garage from Christmas, threw myself on the floor, and started to make piles of my books.
It was honestly overwhelming to start deciding what I was giving away and what I was keeping. I was both feeling like "EVERYTHING MUST GO" and &quo…

Reflecting on 2019 and the Decade

"It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age"- "Long Live"

I can't believe it's finally here. We're all getting ready to step into 2020 tomorrow. It always seemed so far away. We've all been talking about it so long that it's managed to creep up on me. I guess we're all getting a little extra sentimental because we're ending a decade (in terms of the popular view of decades). We're moving into the 20s. Seeing everyone's decade later comparisons has been weird because the 2010s were the first full decade I've ever lived. I started the decade as a six year old in first grade, so, even though I feel like I've accomplished far less than some people on Twitter, I have, in fact, managed to graduate elementary, middle, and high school and get into college in the last 10 years. I've also become a person.
Most of what's shaped me has happened in the last ten years. I've learned an incredible amount about mysel…

Waiting For Fitz

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde (March 5) Click to Purchase
Overview: Addie is in the hospital for inpatient OCD treatment. She's not thrilled, particularly because her mom might watch The Great British Bake Off without her, but, overall, she's ready to try whatever it takes to get better. And it turns out that most of the orderlies are nice and her fellow patients are great company, especially Fitz, who's been there for two years battling schizophrenia. Inside, she makes major strides toward recovery, but Fitz comes to her and asks for help breaking out. Against her better judgement, she can't refuse to help him. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I enjoyed reading from Addie's prospective. I thought that Hyde did an awesome job portraying OCD and the compulsions and obsessions that come with it. Addie is sarcastic and sensible. She has a wonderful, supportive mom and a team behind her that's determined to help. I love how she is both reasonable, and takes time to quest…

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (444 pages)
Overview: Starr and Khalil are driving home from the spring break party when he gets pulled over by a cop. They both know what can happen at traffic stops like this, so they both are nervous even though they've done nothing wrong. And even though they do everything right through the entire stop, Starr watches her best friend die in a shooting, and that isn't even the first time Starr has had to experience that kind of trauma. Before she can even sort out her grief, she's thrust into a new issue, she is the only witness. As her neighborhood of Garden Heights is thrown into a war zone of protests, riots, and heavy policing, Starr still has to navigate her life forty-five minutes away at her primarily white private high school of Williamsone were she feels like she must be a different version of herself than at home in order to protect her social standing. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Angie establishes a real and phenomenal cast. Starr is…

Izzy and Tristan Review

Izzy + Tristan by. Shannon Dunlap (324 pages)
Overview: Izzy and Tristan have a love story. When Izzy's family renovates a moves into a new house on a Brooklyn block their lives change. Her twin brother Hull almost immediately gets into a fight, pulling a knife on some neighborhood kids after a gambling chess match goes wrong. Izzy falls for Tristan, the boy who won Hull's match. With Hull away at a rehabilitation center, Izzy and Tristan are free to fall for each other until Marcus decides that he wants to take revenge on Hull by dating his sister. And even when that battle is overcome, police brutality draws a permanent line between the couple. Overall: 2

*Okay, I'm not really sure how to write a spoiler free review of this because the shocker ending is what I take the most issue with. I'll keep it spoiler free in the characters and plot section, but I will talk about the ending in the writing section. I still recommend you read it, even if you plan on reading the boo…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…