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

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

Into YA with Rachel Lynn Solomon

Pardon me while I go fangirl for a moment. You'd think I'd get used to talking to my favorite authors after so many years, but of course, that never happens. That is especially true today as I'm taking to Rachel Lynn Solomon, brilliant author and nicest human. Rachel has been one of my favorite authors almost as long as I've been a blogger. Her first book came out about 7 months after I first started my blog, and almost four years later, I finally get to chat with her. I can't believe this didn't happen sooner, but I think I was always intimidated.  There's a lot to cover in this quick chat, so Rachel and I talk about keeping up with writing on a quick release schedule, wading into the romance world with The Ex Talk , working in public radio, plotting Today, Tonight Tomorrow , and what's next (luckily, there's quite a bit coming soon). I hope you enjoy our conversation.   1. You’ve been releasing books steadily since your debut in 2018, and this year

Coming Up in February 2021: Can't Miss YA

It's almost February which means it's time for tons of brand new books. I picked the five I was most excited about to spotlight in this post! There's a mix of past favorite authors (like Courtney Summers and Phil Stamper) and some new authors I can't wait to read for the first time! I'm so excited to dive into these soon. A couple are on my ARC TBR, and the rest I put in library requests for. If you have a local library, placing a request for a book purchase from your library is a great, free way to get new books. You help the author with a sale, and the library also offers them more exposure to new readers!  If you do want to add some of these books to your personal collection, I will be adding purchase links that go to Bookshop to this post. Clicking the affiliate link means that the blog might get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Shopping these Bookshop links is a great way to support the blog, authors, and independent bookstores!  The Project by Court

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas: YA Book Review

Concrete Rose  by Angie Thomas Overview: Maverick Carter is stuck in a big mess. Or two different big messes considering he's close to having two kids at 17. Maverick starts the book finding out he's actually the father of a baby with a girl he can't stand. To make matters worse, she gives him the baby and disappears after finding out he's the real father. Navigating school, his relationship with his girlfriend, Lisa, his new baby, and the politics of the gang he's in makes for a chaotic life. Maverick feels like the rug just keeps getting pulled out from under him, and he has to decide how he's going to cope with oncoming adulthood with far more responsibility than his classmates. Overall: 3.5  Characters: 3 I didn't feel like the character development here was as stellar as Angie's past books. Her last two were five star reads for me, and I was immediately immersed in them. This time, I struggled even though I already knew a little bit about who these

Positions Book Tag

Today, I'm sharing a new book tag created by Cielo over at Bellerose Reads who tagged me in her new Positions book tag. I love working on book tags inspired by pop music, so I was thrilled to get the tag. If I'm being totally honest, I wasn't super into Positions, Ariana Grande's latest album. I'm much more of a Thank U Next fan because that album was far more lyrically focused. Positions reminds me a lot of Sweetener. I do like "POV", the closing track of the album. Still, I'm super excited to share the tag because these are some of the best tag questions I've ever seen. Cielo did a wonderful job coming up with really cool prompts. I had a blast thinking of books that fit them. As always, just click the book title to read my review of any of the books I mentioned. And don't forget to read the original tag here .    shut up – a book you couldn’t shut up about  There are way too many. Honestly, a ton of them are already sprinkled through this po

January 2021 Wrap Up

 I feel like I say it every month now, but this month wasn't my best reading month. Oddly, even though I read and post less than ever, I'm more in love with blogging than I've been in a while. I think that stems from the fact that I've stopped putting pressure on myself to read a certain number of books or write a certain number of posts. It stung a bit to see my lowest book total for the year yet in December, but also, the world didn't end. At the end of the day, reading is about having fun, and I do enough reading not for fun for school.  January has lasted a million years. I don't think I'm exaggerating. For the last fifteen days, I've been telling everyone, "How is it still January?". It's finally about to not be January which is lovely. Even with the seeming abundance of time stemming from the never ending January, I only read three books. And the third I still have 80 pages of, but I should be finished with it by the time this post go

My Most Anticipated New YA Contemporary for March 2021

March is delivering so many books I need in my life right now. March is one of my favorite times of year as a book blogger because it's the month of my blog anniversary and it's also a month that publishing dumps a ton of amazing books from the sky all at once, and I get overwhelmed in a really happy way. Here's a longer than usual list of all the YA contemporary books I'm looking forward to for March and have been anticipating for months now. Yolk by Mary HK Choi March 2nd Mary is one of my favorite YA authors and has been since her debut. She's also just the coolest person, and I think because of that she writes some of the most unique YA. Her books tend to hit towards the oldest of the YA age range, which, as an older teen, is super appealing. They also just have a very distinct style to them that's comforting and realistic and extremely grounded in this world. Her characters are always as lost and messy as I am. June is the older sister by three years. She w

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le: YA Book Review

  A Pho Love Story  by Loan Le Overview: Cue up "Love Story (Taylor's Version)" because this book centers around a Romeo + Juliet like relationship- only this time the feud is based in rival pho restaurants across the street from one another. When Bao and Linh have a chance encounter, they start realizing the child of the "enemy" is actually... nice? As they get to know each other better, Bad finds a passion for the first time through writing and Linh gains confidence in her art. They bond over their shared life experience, both having Vietnamese parents who ran parallel restaurants. Over time, they unearth the painful past the feud is built upon, and both families have to reckon with the past to move on in the present. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 In the book, Linh and Bao are both POV characters in the book. Bao is clearly so kind hearted from the beginning. He's very empathetic and careful. He starts the book feeling quite lost. He doesn't know what he wa

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out  by Kate McGovern  Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing. On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4  Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried t