Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Review | One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

Image and video hosting by TinyPicOne Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus
Published On: May 30, 2017/June 1, 2017 (UK)
Published By: Penguin
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★½

Amazon | Goodreads

Pay close attention and you might solve this. 
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. 
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. 
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. 
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. 
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

The synopsis of this book had me intrigued from the minute I read it, however it turned out to be nothing like I had expected. I think I was expecting some kind of The Breakfast Club meets murder mystery, which it was in a way, but with detention being more of the setting. In reality, it was your average high school setting mystery. It was good, but it didn’t blow me away, perhaps because I had expected something different.

I think my Breakfast Club vibe came from the cast of characters. The characters in this book are great, and they are all so different. I really liked the fact these incredibly different people were all thrown into this situation, and the fact it brought them together.

While the characters were an important aspect of the book, the mystery surrounding Simon’s death is obviously the main theme of the book. I was so intrigued by the mystery. It completely pulled me in and I just had to know what happened, I couldn’t stop reading. There were so many parts to the mystery and the fact it was more than just who was responsible for the death really added to the intrigue.

The way the mystery was resolved was not what I was expecting. I liked the way what had happened and those involved were revealed, especially as it was far more action-packed than I had anticipated. I was expecting mystery going into this book, but the thriller aspect was a shock. What wasn’t a shock, though, was the reveal of who was responsible.

I was curious going into this book about how the story would be told considering we had essentially four main characters. The way this book was written from all four perspectives was very well done and the addition of the date/time stamp was very helpful. I did find it a little confusing when the time jumped several days between characters’ perspectives and I often struggled to work out where the story was in terms of timing.

The one thing I didn’t really like within this book was the romance. I usually love a relationship forming alongside the main story but not in this case. The romance just seemed unnecessary and I didn’t feel it add anything to the story. I liked both characters and didn’t dislike them together in general, however it seemed to me like it was added in just for the sake of having a romance aspect to the story.

Overall, I did enjoy this book but it didn’t blow me away. I really liked the mystery aspect, which intrigued me enough to keep me turning the pages, and the great cast of characters, who each brought something different to the story. I would recommend this book to mystery fans, as the mystery aspect of the book is really what impressed me the most.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Top Ten | Author Reading Goals

So I had no clue what to call this post and what I settled on makes pretty much no sense, but I basically want to talk about my author reading goals. There are certain authors who I consider to be my favourites and I want to read everything they have written. I thought I would share the top ten authors whose complete works I want to have read at least within the next few years. Some of these authors have as many as 16 currently published books, so it could take me a while to get through them all.

1. Cecelia Ahern
Have I mentioned she's my favourite author? Just a few times? Everything I have read so far from Cecelia Ahern has been a 4 or 5 star read so of course I want to read everything she has written. 
Published Novels: 16
Read: 5
Own (Unread): 3

2. Jennifer E Smith
Another favourite author, although she seems to be a bit more hit or miss for me. I want to read everything from her to see if she is more of a hit than a miss overall.
Published Novels: 8 + novella
Read: 5 + novella
Own (Unread): 1

3. Morgan Matson
She writes the perfect summer contemporary novels, the kind that make you feel like you're on the best summer holiday despite the fact you are actually stuck at home watching the rain because you live in the UK.
Published Novels: 4
Read: 3
Own (Unread): 1
(Amy & Rodger's Epic Detour - Second Chance Summer - Since You've Been Gone)

4. Kasie West
Kasie West is probably my favourite YA contemporary author. She has written outwith the contemporary genre but I haven't read it yet, so for me it's her contemporary stories I have fallen in love with.
Published Novels: 7
Read: 3
Own (Unread): 2

5. John Green
He is one of the most talked about authors, especially following the movie adaptations of two of his novels, and I want to know what all the fuss is about. I have really enjoyed what I have already read but since everyone raves about all his books I want to read more.
Published Novels: 6 (including those written with other authors)
Read: 2
Own (Unread): 1

6. Gillian Flynn
This woman is some kind of genius. The stories and dark twists she comes up with are incredible, of course I want to read everything I can from her.
Published Novels: 3
Read: 2
Own (Unread): 1
(Dark Places - Gone Girl)

7. Emery Lord
I have actually only read one of Emery Lord's books but I enjoyed it so much that I know I want to read everything she writes.
Published Novels: 4
Read: 1
Own (Unread): 2
(Open Road Summer)

8. Sarah Dessen
The queen of YA contemporary. Everyone loves Sarah Dessen and I want to love her as well. I wasn't a huge fan of what I have already read but I am determined to read all of her books and fall in love with her like everyone else.
Published Novels: 13
Read: 1
Own (Unread): 0
(That Summer)

9. Gayle Forman
She is another hit or miss author for me. I have absolutely loved one of her books but another was just OK. I have heard great things about all of her other books.
Published Novels: 7
Read: 3
Own (Unread): 1

10. Rainbow Rowell
I thought I loved Rainbow Rowell and would love everything she wrote, and then I really disliked one of her books. Now I don't know what to feel, which means I have to read everything she's written just to make sure that one book was just a one off.
Published Novels: 5
Read: 3
Own (Unread): 1

Those are the authors whose books I am making it a goal to read as soon as I can. I haven't included short stories in my numbers, as I would have no doubt missed some, but I have read short stories by a few of these authors. Also, there is a good chance my numbers are wrong in general, feel free to correct me.

What authors do you want to read all the books written by? What books from these authors should I read next?

Sophie :)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Tag | Opposites Book Tag

This is a pretty old tag but I stumbled across it recently and added it to the never ending list of tags I want to do. I believe this was started on Booktube but the original video doesn't seem to be available any more. This tag is basically just questions about opposites, relating to books of course.

1. First book in your collection/last book you bought
I couldn't tell you the first book I ever owned but the book on my shelves I've had the longest is definitely Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. The last book I bought, which I have yet to haul, was Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

2. A cheap book/an expensive book
Quite a few of my books are from charity shops or discount book stores so a lot of them were pretty cheap. I have a fair few free eBooks as well. A surprisingly expensive book was Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. It wasn't super expensive but £10 for a paperback is definitely more than I would usually expect to pay.

3. A book with a male protagonist/a book with a female protagonist
The first male protagonist who comes to mind is Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I don't actually read a lot of books with a male protagonist. I would say 99% of the books I read have a female protagonist so I couldn't name just one.

4. A book you read fast/a book that took you too long to read
I read Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry so fast I was actually surprised at myself. It's around 400 pages and I read about 90% of it in one day because I couldn't put it down. A book that took me so long to read I was surprised was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. That book took me 3 months to read!

5. Pretty cover/ugly cover
What Light by Jay Asher is probably still my favourite cover for now, although the UK cover for The Names The Gave Us by Emery Lord is in the running. As for ugly covers, don't even get me started on the UK cover for My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows.

6. A national book/an international book
I haven't actually read it yet but I have to say Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame as a national book since the author is a fellow Scot. The majority of the books I read are by American authors so they would all be considered international books.

7. A thin book/a thick book
I think Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell is the shortest book on my shelves, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is probably the longest.

8. Fiction book/non-fiction book
Again, I read mostly fiction so I could answer this with pretty much anything. Let's go with my most recent read so Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout. My most recent non-fiction read was All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

9. Very romantic book/action book
The first book that comes to mind when I think romantic is PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. For an action packed book I would probably have to say The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

10. A book that made you happy/a book that made you sad
A book that always makes me happy whenever I think about it is Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie) by Cecelia Ahern. Of course I had to mention that one somewhere! A book that made me sad is Love Is The Higher Law by David Levithan. It's a really great book but as it is a book about 9/11, it obviously evokes feelings of sadness.

That was the opposites book tag! I love these kinds of tags, mainly because answering random questions about books is my kind of fun. Let me know of any other fun tags I can add to my growing list.

Sophie :)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Review | I Still Remember by Priya Prithviraj

I Still Remember by Priya Prithviraj
Published By: Self-Published
Published On: May 14, 2017
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: Exact Unknown (around 30)
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Rating: ★★

Goodreads | Amazon

How do you forget someone you've loved once?  

Ji-woo dreams of becoming a writer and is back in college giving it a second shot. But then Weon-gyu, her first love, comes back into her new life. Will she give up on her dreams or will she write them a happy ending?

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

When the author first approached me about this book I was pretty excited to read it as I really liked the premise of the story. It seemed like such a sweet concept, a first love coming back into your life and having to deal with the situations that arise from that.

Unfortunately, it wasn't executed quite as well as I had hoped. I was wary with it being so short and I feel that I was right to be. To me, it needed to be longer to get to know the characters and develop the story. I think there needed to be more background to get to know the characters, as well as more to the plot. It definitely has potential, there just wasn't enough for me.

My main issue with this book was the fact that I had difficulty following it. It jumped around a lot between scenes and there were a few flashbacks that threw me off a little. Also, a lot of the characters were mentioned and discussed but not actually introduced until a few pages later, which confused me quite a lot.

I also had a few issues with the writing. I just didn't click with the way it was written. I think that is more to do with me than with the book itself, but it contributed to me finding the story difficult to follow.

One thing I absolutely loved about this book was the setting. I really loved that it was set in Korea and following Korean characters. I don't think I have previously read any books set in Korea but that is definitely something I want to look into reading more of.

Overall, this was definitely a book with potential but for me it was just too short to fully develop the characters or the plot. I really think if it was longer and more developed it would have been a 3/4 star read for me.

About The Author:
Priya Prithviraj writes poems which have been featured in journals such as Eastlit and at the Stewartry Book Festival. She also writes about books, writing and publishing on her ​blog​.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


I had great intentions of sharing a regular, book related post today but it doesn't seem right. Something so horrific has happened that hits very close to home for me in so many ways, I need to talk about that.

Just over 24 hours ago, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the foyer of Manchester Arena, a place in which I have had some of my best moments, mere seconds after the end of an Ariana Grande concert. As of now, 22 people have been killed and another 59 have been seriously injured, with one victim being just 8 years old. The majority of that audience will have been children and young people, it sickens me just thinking about that! Obviously being from the UK, just a couple of hours drive from Manchester, this has had a profound affect on me. I love this city and have had some incredible times there. However, it's impact on me is far more than just geographical. 

(Manchester Arena, 2016)

Concerts are a major part of my life. So far this year I have attended 9, with at least another 10 planned for the rest of the year. I travel around the UK and Ireland to support my favourite acts and enjoy their shows. Just this year I have attended shows in London and Birmingham, as well as some more local to me. They are my happy place, my escape from reality, the one place I can truly be myself without a care in the world. For so many people, that happy place has been destroyed and their escape from reality became a nightmare. To think that this crowd of mostly young girls were having the time of their lives, enjoying their idol performing without a care in the world, creating memories they should be able to treasure, not realising the complete devastation to follow, it's heartbreaking. No-one should go to a concert and not return home. Concerts should never be an unsafe, scary place to be. They should be full of joy and memories that will be treasured forever. 

My heart breaks for those whose best night became their worst nightmare. For those who sang their heart out and danced all night, not knowing it was their last. For those who are fighting for their lives and those working their absolute hardest to make them better. For those who lost loved ones and for those whose loved ones are still missing. For Ariana, her family and her team. For fangirls like myself around the world. For the world in general.

I will not let this murderer steal my happy place. I will not let hate, fear and terror win. I will attend every concert I want to, where I will sing a little louder and dance a little more for those who never will again.

I know this isn't my usual post but it is something I felt I needed to talk about. Bookish posts will resume tomorrow. For tonight though, hug your loved ones a little tighter.

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Bout Of Books | Wrap Up

Bout of Books

Bout Of Books ended a few days ago now and I have yet to share quite how drastically I failed. I had such high hopes for this readathon but in the end it turned out to be such a crazy busy week that I didn't get a whole lot of reading done at all. I didn't meet any of my goals and only read 1 book.

Day 1 - Mon May 8th
I had uni for a few hours but still managed to fit in a bit of reading before and after. This was a much better reading day than I anticipated and actually a good start to the readathon.
Pages Read: 147

Day 2 - Tue May 9th
I knew this would be a busy day. I had lunch and a catch up with my best friend and then a theatre trip at night but still managed to get a bit of reading done on the train.
Pages Read: 70

Day 3 - Wed May 10th
Another pretty decent reading day. I did nothing other than finish one book and start another.
Pages Read: 102

Day 4 - Thu May 11th
I thought this would be a day with nothing to do but read. However, I ended up taking my gran out for the day and then went out for dinner, which meant very little reading time after all.
Pages Read: 22

Day 5 - Fri May 12th
This was also meant to be a day for reading but I ended up having to babysit my nephew, who definitely isn't old enough to let me have some time to read.
Pages Read: 0

Day 5 & 6 - Sat May 13th & Sun May 14th
So I ended up going to London for the weekend. This wasn't planned but a super busy last minute trip meant no reading for the last couple of days of the readathon either.
Pages Read: 0

Total Pages Read: 341
Total Books Read: 1

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus - 305 Pages
Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout - 36 Pages

I didn't do as well as I had hoped but there's always next time. Did you take part in Bout Of Books this past week? How did you do?

Sophie :)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mini Review | Heart Of The Matter by Emily Giffin

Heart Of The Matter by Emily Giffin
Published On: May 11, 2010
Published By: Orion
Genre: Chick Lit
Pages: 358
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother's warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life. 
Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much. 
Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

Maybe I expected too much.
I have read tow of Emily Giffin's books before and really enjoyed both of them. Despite having this book on my shelf for about 5 years before actually picking it up, I was expecting to enjoy it. I was wrong, it seems. I expected more and was left disappointed.

I was bored.
I felt as though there was very little to the plot and nothing really happened. You have this big 'scandal' and that is literally the only thing going on in the whole book. I found myself getting bored while reading so I just didn't want to keep picking it up.

I couldn't deal with the cheating.
I used to be the person that hated any kind of cheating in books but I have since changed my opinion on that. However, I could not tolerate the cheating aspect of this story. Not only was it pretty unrealistic, it was unethical and a complete abuse of power. I also had a very hard time with the 'single parents can't handle things on their own and need a partner' mentality that seemed to be quite prominent.

The characters were the worst.
It is rare that I hate ever single character in a book but I just couldn't like any of them. They were dull and annoying, I didn't want to read about their lives at all. I felt no sympathy for either of the women, even when it was clear that's what the author had intended me to feel.

The Dex & Rachel cameo, though!
There is only one thing I liked about this book and that was the inclusion of Dex and Rachel, from Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed. I loved that book so to get a glimpse into their life a few years on from the end of the book was great.

Overall, I was very tempted to DNF this book but I felt some kind of obligation to finish it since it had been sitting on my shelf for so long. Honestly, I wish I hadn't bothered. I may pick up some of her other work in future but Heart Of The Matter is definitely not the Emily Giffin book I would recommend.

Bout Of Books | Updates

Bout of Books

Day 1 - May 8th
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus - 147 pages
Total Books Read: 0
Running Total: 147 pages

Day 2 - May 9th
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus - 70 pages
Total Books Read: 0
Running Total: 217 pages

Day 3 - May 10th
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus - 88 pages
Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout - 14 pages
Total Books Read: 1
Running Total: 319

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Let's Talk | My Dream Author Panels

I mentioned in a Top Ten Tuesday from back in March, when I talked about authors I was dying to meet, that I have never been to any kind of bookish event. I want to so badly but it just never seems to be possible for me. Eventbrite recently asked me what authors I would have on my dream panel at a bookish event and I had so much fun thinking about this that I wanted to share the panels I came up with.

The Perfect Book Boyfriend -
Stephanie Perkins, Kasie West, Morgan Matson & Jennifer E Smith
These four authors are some of my all time favourites and all four of them have mastered the art of creating the perfect book boyfriend. I would love to hear them talk about their writing process and how they create such loveable characters.

Branching Out -
Cecelia Ahern. Gayle Forman & Sophie Kinsella
Both Cecelia Ahern and Sophie Kinsella are known for writing adult novels but have recently branched out into the world of YA. Gayle Forman, on the other hand, is known for writing YA novels but has recently branched out into adult novels. I'm intrigued to know why they decided to do this, if the writing process was different, and if they plan to write more of the novels they are not necessarily known for.

On The Big Screen -
Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, John Green & JK Rowling
All of these authors have had their incredibly popular works adapted into incredibly popular films. I would love to hear them talk about what that process was like. I know there have been some issues with the movie adaptations of Veronica Roth's Divergent series recently so I would be interested to know about the ups and downs of taking a book to the big screen.

Those are three author panels that I would absolutely love to see be a thing. I really loved thinking about my dream author panels and I now want to attend a bookish event more than ever! I would love to hear about your dream panel, or one that actually happened!

Sophie :)

Thank you to Eventbrite for inspiring this post. If you are interested in planning an event, Eventbrite offer a variety of tools to help you do so. You can register your event online here or your conference here.

Monday, 8 May 2017

TBR | Summer 2017

As of earlier today I am officially on holiday from university for the summer! Unfortunately, I don't get the four month break most of my friends are getting as I am back out on placement in July, but the two months I do have are much needed. There are a few books that I would definitely like to at least try and get to during my break so, in an attempt to hold myself accountable and maybe actually read them, I decided to share my TBR for my summer break.

Summer Days & Summer Nights by various authors - I meant to read this last summer and never got around to it. I loved the Christmas version, My True Love Gave To Me, so I'm excited about this one.

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West - I love a Kasie West book in the summer and this is the next one that I want to pick up. She's one of my favourite authors so I know I'll enjoy this.

With Malice by Eileen Cook - This isn't the usual light and fluffy contemporary I usually pick up in the summer but for some reason I'm really in the mood for this just now. The combination of mystery and Italy definitely sounds good to me.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson - I have read at least one Morgan Matson book each summer for the past couple of years and this is the only one I have left to read. I hope to pick this up during May with it being Month Of Matson.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I've lost count of how many TBR lists I have put this book on! I am determined to pick this up soon, hopefully in the next couple of months.

Frostbite by Richelle Mead - It's been two years since I read Vampire Academy, I need to continue with this series! I want to read this book, it keeps calling me from my shelves, but for some reason I never pick it up. It will happen!

There is a very good chance I will read not a single one of these books. I suck at sticking to TBRs but I like lists so I feel the need to make them. Who knows, I might be more successful this time!

What are you hoping to pick up over the summer?

Sophie :)

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Readathon | Bout Of Books 19

It Bout Of Books time again! I participated in this readathon this time last year and really enjoyed it so I decided to join in again. I'm officially on holiday from university for the summer from Tuesday and a readathon is such a great way to kick off my summer.

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I don't have a definite TBR for the week. I've just been reading whatever I'm in the mood for recently so I plan to choose the books as I go since this readathon doesn't have specific challenges to complete. However, I do have some goals I would like to accomplish.

- Read every day.
- Read over 1000 pages.
- Read at least three books.
- Read mostly books from my Around The Year In 52 Books challenge TBR.
- Participate in some of the challenges.

I'm hoping this week can get me back on track with my Around The Year In 52 Books challenge. I am way behind though so I'm doubtful but I might make some progress at least. We'll see how I do.

Are you taking part in Bout Of Books 19?

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Wrap Up & Haul | April 2017

I say it every month but this year is going crazy fast, how is it May already?! I'm glad to see May, though, as it means I am on holiday from university for two months and boy do I need it! Even with placement being over, my April was still pretty busy with classes and assessments, as well as a couple of gigs and bit of a social life for the first time in a while. I did read a bit more in April than the couple of months before but not as much as I had hoped. There's always May, right? I read a total of 3 books in April, one was a reread and one was my most anticipated book of 2017.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Chasing Nikki by Lacey Weatherford -
I got this ebook on a whim, I think because it was either free or super cheap, and wasn't expecting much from it when I finally decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised actually. It wasn't anything great but I did enjoy it. It's about a boy with a troubled past who is moved to a small town to live on his grandparents ranch and decides to pursue a girl at his new school. It's nothing new or really special but it is a lot darker than you would expect and it takes some pretty shocking turns.
Rating: 3/5 | Review

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern -
This is the first book in Cecelia Ahern's YA duology, and her first YA book. I reread this in preparation for the sequel and loved it just as much the second time around. I love the premise of this book and the dystopian society in which it is set. I go into more detail in my review but there are so many relevant messages throughout this book that we need to think about as a society. I just love this book a lot.
Rating: 5/5 | Review

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern -
This is the second book in the duology, the sequel to Flawed. I didn't love this book as much as the first, which was a little disappointing, but I did really enjoy it. I loved how the story continued and eventually wrapped up and there were still the same messages running through that I think are so important. I just had a bit of an issue with one aspect, which I talk about in my review.
Rating: 4/5 | Review | ATY Challenge: #40 Published in 2017

I did pretty well with my book buying in April, which I was quite proud of. Despite reaching the next 5 book goal and being able to buy books, I managed to restrain myself and haven't bought anything yet! I did receive my pre-order of Perfect and also received one book for review.

The Beat On Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark - This is a middle grade historical fiction novel and it sounds like a fun read. I have been wanting to read more historical fiction since reading The Book Thief and I feel like this, as it's aimed at middle grade readers, won't be too much for me.

Here's hoping I have a better reading month in May and get back on track with my Around The Year challenge, which I am way behind on. What was the best thing you read in April?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review | Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

Image and video hosting by TinyPicWindfall by Jennifer E Smith
Published On: May 2, 2017/May 4, 2017 (UK)
Published By: MacMillan
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

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.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Jennifer E Smith has done it again with another adorable, fun contemporary. I've been a bit hit or miss with her work before, some I have loved and others not so much, but I absolutely loved this story. The plot was fun, the romance was cute, the characters were great and we got the perfect amount of depth and emotion to balance out the fun and pull on your heartstrings.

I loved the premise of this book. When a book starts out with winning the lottery, you know you're in for a rollercoaster journey and it was such a fun journey to go on. Who doesn't want to win the lottery? It was such an enjoyable aspect of the book, particularly getting to see Teddy spending the money on some really thoughtful, and sometimes just extravagant, things. It was also a really great way to introduce some of the deeper topics, which I think was done really well.

As well as the lottery aspect of the story, we have the adorable romance. I love friends to lovers stories and I loved the way this one was written as you never really knew if they would ever end up together, I couldn't predict the outcome at all. Alice and Teddy's friendship is so important throughout the book and I think the fact that it wasn't ignored in favour of the romance aspect really emphasised how important it is. They never lose their friendship, no matter how much they argue, which I think is really special. I didn't think the addition of Sawyer as another love interest was all that necessary but I did like his character.

All of these characters are great and have some relatable aspects. I enjoyed Alice as a main character, I could relate to her a lot. She developed a lot throughout the book and this was one of my favourite things about it. She discovers so much about herself through her best friend's lottery win and becomes her own person. I loved all of the side characters and family members but Leo was a particular favourite. His sarcastic comments never failed to make me laugh. I specifically liked the fact that his being gay wasn't a big deal. I find so often that author's are trying so hard to make their characters diverse that there is such an emphasis on a character being gay and often a lot of stereotypes are introduced. I really enjoyed reading about an average guy with boyfriend troubles learning how to make love work.

There is an emphasis on family within this book that I think is incredibly important. Alice talks about feeling like an island since her parents died and this analogy develops as the plot does. Alice's struggles with finding home and family really highlight the fact that family does not always mean in the traditional sense. We have two different 'non-traditional' families and the love they all show one another throughout the book is important in showcasing that family can look different to everyone.

As I mentioned, this book deals with the fun of spending all this lottery money but we also get the depth and emotion to balance this out. There are some tough subjects discussed, essentially within the context of winning the lottery. Prominently, we have Alice still struggling with her grief after her parents died 9 years ago. It was so unique the way this lottery win was used to help Alice delve into her past, open up about her struggles and begin to move on and live her own life. I don't cry at book all that often, I'm more of a tear up kind of person, but there were so many moments throughout this book where the tears were rolling down my face. That's when you know a book has had an emotional impact.

Overall, I think this was a great contemporary story from Jennifer E Smith. I laughed, I cried, I swooned over the adorable romance and got frustrated by Teddy's outrageous spending. I was emotionally invested in this story and these characters, and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing both develop. I would definitely recommend picking this up if you are a fan of Jennifer E Smith, or contemporary in general.