Author: Jennifer E. Smith

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Windfall Review

June 6, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

Windfall ReviewWindfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Delacorte Press on May 2nd, 2017
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
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two-half-stars
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.

I’ve only read two books by Jennifer E. Smith, and I wasn’t all that impressed by either of them. But I was still seriously looking forward to Windfall. The concept sounded totally unique: you buy a lottery ticket as a present for your crush and he ends up winning. Unfortunately, the concept itself was more intriguing than the execution turned out to be. Smith’s writing is really beautiful and quotable. What didn’t work for me is that I wasn’t invested in the romance or either of the main characters. I can see the appeal of this book, but it just wasn’t able to work for me. It wasn’t a terrible book, but it wasn’t a great one either. I felt like it could have been about 100-200 pages shorter and still be enjoyable. While I’m sure that a lot of readers will love Jennifer E. Smith’s latest work, it wasn’t totally for me.

Alice was such a sweet girl, but she wasn’t my favorite. I did sympathize with the fact that she lost both of her parents at very young age. I can’t imagine going through something like that and my heart broke for her. I thought that her humanitarian work was admirable. I loved that she volunteered frequently at the soup kitchen and tutored a little boy who also lost his parents. I also identified with her struggles with figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. I have to say that I did want to shake her for turning down half the money. She was the one who bought the lottery in the first place, why in the world would you ever turn down receiving a chunk of that change?! It didn’t make any sense to me. I know that might seem like a petty thing to note, it just bothered me. You have so many bad things happen in your life so you’d think that getting a large sum of money would be some good karma, but I guess she didn’t see it that way. Alice wasn’t a bad character, but she wasn’t the most memorable one either.

You guys, Teddy was a total jerk. I didn’t really see what Alice saw in him honestly. I will admit that it was nice of him to offer half of the money to her in the first place. However, that still didn’t make him all that redeemable in my book. Alice and Teddy have been close friends for a long time now. Alice has been in love with him for a long time as well, but he proceeds to spend a majority of the book jerking her around. There’s no way that he doesn’t know her feelings, yet he never directly talks about it and just keeps leading her on. It also bothered me how he just kept buying pointless things instead of saving his money. I know that it was a luxury to him, but he really has NO interest in saving some for college in the beginning? Maybe I’m just being picky, but all of this seemed weird to me.

I’m not going to waste much time going into details about the romance since it was rather disappointing. I’ve already summed up most of it, Teddy strings Alice along for most of the book. I usually like friends to lovers but it didn’t work for me in this case. So I want to talk more about Leo. He’s Alice’s cousin and is absolutely adorable. He was nerdy, wise, funny, charming, and just wonderful. I wanted more of him! I thought his relationship with his boyfriend was so freaking cute. I honestly wished that this was Leo and Max’s story instead. Maybe they could get a novel focused on them still? I’d be down with a companion.

Windfall was a disappointing read for me. As I’ve said, I wasn’t overly in love with either of the Jennifer E. Smith books that I’ve read in the past. I know that so many contemporary romance fans adore her books and I figured that I’d give this one a shot anyway. I felt like this book was truthfully boring and WAY too long. In my opinion, it wasn’t necessary to make the book as long as it was. I wish that I liked this book a lot more than I did, but it turned out to not really be for me.

two-half-stars

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Summer Days & Summer Nights Review

May 25, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

Summer Days & Summer Nights ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Jennifer E. Smith
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1), Flying Lessons & Other Stories, The Great American Whatever, You Know Me Well, We Are Okay, Windfall
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three-stars
Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.
Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

I didn’t read the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me, which was also put together by Stephanie Perkins. However, I wanted to read this one because I was in the mood for some sweet summer stories to get me in the mood for this incredible season. Though I was expecting some light fluffy romances, what I really got was actually something much more deeper. Some of these stories are surprisingly sad and deal with some tough topics, but all of them are extremely realistic. If you read only one story, I highly recommend it being A Thousand Way This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith. Anyway, this was a fabulously diverse collection that featured a lot of different genres like: contemporary, science fiction, and fantasy. Unsurprisingly, I personally preferred the contemporary stories, but I’m sure that it will please fans of those genres that they were included here.

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo – 3 Stars

I feel like I’m one of the only people on the PLANET who haven’t read anything by Leigh Bardugo yet. I’ve meant to, but I’m just not a huge fan of that genre and haven’t gotten around to reading anything by her yet. This story had solid writing, I personally didn’t connect too much to the characters like some reviewers seem to have connected to it. I thought that the romance was really adorable, but the twist kind of threw me for a loop and I liked it a little less because of that.

The End of Love by Nina LaCour – 4 Stars

This was an adorable story about a budding romance between two girls. Flora is going through a rough time with her parents divorce and so she decides to escape to a summer geometry class that she had already taken. There she runs into Mimi, a girl from another school who she always had a secret crush on but never pursued anything with. As you might anticipate, Flora finds a romance that she’d be dreaming about for a long time. I liked this one because of the diversity but also because of how well developed it was for a short story.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – 2.5 Stars

So this one started out rather promising, but then it just got weird and I was ridiculously confused about the direction that it went in. I thought that the main character was funny and a bit charming, but then the plot changed. Besides, I wasn’t feeling the romance in the slightest. It all fell helplessly short, in my opinion.

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block – 2 Stars

This one was totally off to me. I’ve never read anything by this author before, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t used to some of the quirkiness of it all. The first really strange thing about it was that all the characters were only known by letters like M, J, L, and I. Did anyone else who read this find that straight up odd or was it only me? Aside from that, I absolutely couldn’t stand the ending. With that being said, the ending was the reason why I disliked the romance. The ending of it all was far from satisfying and just made me angry.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – 3.5 Stars

As I already said earlier, I didn’t read the Holiday collection, and Perkins features the same characters in both. I was told that it was okay to go ahead and read this story anyway. They pretty much recap all the events that already happened in the other story. I don’t think it’s possible for Stephanie to write a BAD story, I just didn’t feel all that connected to her characters as a whole. The story was rather predictable, but I did appreciate that the drama was kept at a minimal level. I enjoyed the story, it just wasn’t my favorite. I think fans of Perkins will be pleased though.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle – 4 Stars

Wow, I was surprised by how much I liked this one! It surprised me because this is a breakup story and I hate those, but somehow, Federale made this work. I felt very connected to the main character, Matt. He reminded me a little of Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, due to how witty and hilarious he is. I loved that he worked at an amusement park, and I loved even more that it took place in Pittsburgh. So Matt works in the souvenir shop at the amusement park, and his summer boyfriend Kieth works as an actor in the show that they put on. They have a breakup date because Kieth is moving away for school and doesn’t want to lead him on. This worked for me because it resembled a real high school relationship, it wasn’t a fairy tale, and I liked that more than I thought that I would.

Inertia by Veronica Roth – 4.5 Stars

Well, this story was definitely something else! In a way, it definitely reminded me of Four and Tris from the Divergent series. But I feel like Roth was still able to create two unique characters and build something real and memorable within these thirty some pages that she had to work with. I feel like some readers might feel differently about the story, but I personally enjoyed every second of it.

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skorvon – 2.5 Stars

Some parts of this book seemed to have quite a bit of potential, but others seemed to be lacking. The narration style was one of the most unique ones that I’ve ever read before, and I did enjoy that, but some of the stories ended up running together. Meaning, the author tries to follow three different couples in this small amount of space. For me, it didn’t end up working so well. I did think some of the lines were rather clever though. All in all, I think that you might be able to skip this one.

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – 4 Stars

I thought this was a lovely story! It seems to be the theme here, but I haven’t read anything by Colbert yet. I was totally impressed by this one. The main character Rashida, is dealing with her cousin (who is like a mother to her) moving across the country to be with her girlfriend. She ends up meeting her girlfriend’s brother Pierre at the going away party and finds sparks fly between them. I loved how openly the two were able to discuss mental illness and their past experiences with it and also with grief. Both of them had experiences major losses in different ways. It was such a heavy but real thing, and I’m glad that Colbert portrayed this in such a classy way.

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – 2 Stars

Clare is an author who I’ve never read before, but her books are very popular. So I say that if you are a fan, you will likely enjoy this story because I’ve read from the reviews that it seems to have similar themes to her other works. If this isn’t your genre or an author you think you’d like, I say that you skip it. It’s basically about a terrifying carnival filled with demons. It wasn’t all that boring or anything, it just didn’t turn out to be my thing personally. The romance wasn’t for me either. It was basically about a slightly awkward yet pretty and cool girl who falls for the broody bad boy, who is her uncle’s stepson.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – 5 Stars

This is definitely my favorite of the stories. It could be that I’m a huge fan of the author’s, but this story just clicked with me on every level. If you’re not a major contemporary romance fan, this might not totally be your thing, but I loved it from the first page. It has the most adorable romance ever. Seriously, the last scene will likely make you melt. I want to read it over again for the first time, it was that cute. The main character, Annie, is a camp counselor to little kids, and one of them has autism and she isn’t sure exactly how to make him feel comfortable at the camp. She has an interest in a boy named Griffin, who turns out to know exactly how to handle the child. It’s difficult to describe, but just trust me, this story will make you feel so many things.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – 2 Stars

Sorry, but this book was pretty boring to me. It just seemed to drag on and on. The premise was like Groundhog Day, the main character lives the same day over and over again. About a month in, he ends up seeing a girl who is out of place and finds out that she’s in the same boat as him. Naturally, he ends up falling in love with her and carrying less about having to live the same day on repeat. This whole time thing just wasn’t for me at all.

 

three-stars

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