ARC Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: Windfall

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publication date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 432

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Penguin Random House!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis:
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.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know for sure that I have a fetish for YA contemporary novels. In this post, I’m sharing with you my thoughts on Jennifer E. Smith’s latest book, Windfall.

Written with a voice full of hope, Windfall is a heartfelt tale about love and how luck entirely changes people’s lives. Although it’s romance, this book also accentuated family, friendship, moving on, and choosing happiness, which I absolutely loved. The characters are authentic and very much relatable! They have well-crafted personalities that helped build a unique and diverse setting.

Having known each other since they were kids, Alice, Teddy, and Leo are a picture of true friendship. Readers would feel how deep their bond is as the three characters support one another in good times and in bad. They listen to what each has to say and offer great advice.

I liked how the romance took time to unfold, making Windfall a lovely slow dance that readers wouldn’t want to end. Alice and Teddy are so adorable! ❤

As always, Jennifer E. Smith’s writing is fluid, aesthetic, and soulful. Her stories have the right mix of sad, happy, and swoony feels, which is why it’s impossible not to fall in love with a Jennifer E. Smith book! 🙂

Undeniably charming and sweet, Windfall is an unputdownable novel that sparkles with the magic of true love.

Rating:

4/5 stars

National Book Store Read Out Loud Challenge

Hi, everyone! Here’s my entry for National Book Store’s Read Out Loud Challenge. I’m sorry it took me a while to film this as I’ve been busy with work. Anyway, thank you Kai of Amaterasu Reads for tagging me! Challenge accepted, my friend! 🙂

Here’s the passage I read:

“I don’t care what happens next, but I’m ready for it. If I can face a roller coaster, I can face anything.”

Tagging Sab of Sab The Book Eater, Kristin Rae, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Lauren Gibaldi. 🙂

For more info on the Read Out Loud Challenge, head over to National Book Store’s blog here.

ARC Review: Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Title: Ronit & Jamil

Author: Pamela L. Laskin

Publication date: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 192 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Harper Collins!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

 

Synopsis:

This beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the barrier fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred. Ronit and Jamil fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can be kept secret for only so long. Soon, the teenage lovers must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

A novel written in verse, Ronit & Jamil was a quick read. I’m a fan of modern-day retellings, so when I learned that it’s a reimagining of Romeo & Juliet set in the Middle East, I just had to read it.

I thought I was going to like this book, but unfortunately, I didn’t. The alternate POVs were confusing because the poems sound very much alike. The characters didn’t resonate with me, and I also couldn’t connect with the story. I felt that everything was rushed! It could have been better if the novel were written in prose so readers would extensively feel the thrill of romance. In addition, scenes would be executed vividly, giving readers a thorough understanding of Israeli and Palestinian cultures, as well as experience the intense conflict between the two countries.

If Ronit & Jamil is on your TBR pile, please give it a chance. Like other books, it deserves to be read. Don’t let my review influence your decision in reading the book. This is just my opinion, guys! 🙂

Rating:

1/5 stars

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017, guys! *throws confetti* How are you all doing?

I’m sure you’re wondering where I’ve been these past six months. Let’s say, something wonderful happened. I started working at Summit Media, a magazine publishing company here in the Philippines last June. I’m an Editorial Assistant in the Content Marketing department, which eventually became Content Lab after merging with the Summit Books team.

Working at Summit is a dream come true! I’ve always wanted to work in the publishing industry. After years of trying, I have finally achieved my goal. Every day is a learning experience at work. I get to write lifestyle articles, edit magazine pages, proofread manuscripts, go to shoots, and a lot more. My teammates are awesome! There’s never a dull moment with them! I’m really happy to be part of an incredibly talented and dynamic team. 🙂

img_1977

Everyone, meet the Content Lab team! 🙂

Because of my busy work schedule, I hardly had time to read and blog. That explains my six-month break in the blogosphere. Going on hiatus was a sad decision to make, but it was for the best. And in doing so, I was able to focus on living my dream.

Now that I’m back in the blogosphere, I look forward to blogging about the books I’ll read and all the bookish adventures I’m going to experience this 2017.

Wishing you all a year of beautiful stories! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARC Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

17838528Title: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson

Publication date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 519

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Simon & Schuster!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

 

Synopsis:

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

It has been four years since I last read a Morgan Matson book. Yeah, it was that long! Second Chance Summer was the last one. I have a copy of Since You’ve Been Gone on my shelf and I hope to read it soon. Anyway, I got to read the author’s latest, The Unexpected Everything and enjoyed it!

Realistic and relatable, The Unexpected Everything is a book that perfectly depicts how the unexpected things in life turn out to be beautiful. People plan how their life would be most of the time, like they should be this and that or something. It’s okay to have goals in life, but sometimes we also have to open ourselves to unexpected things that come our way especially if they are experiences we haven’t come across yet. You know, the unexpected is magical because there are infinite possibilities wedged in it. So live in the moment, and don’t be afraid to embrace the unexpected!

The characters are wonderfully crafted! Each of them possesses unique qualities that spiced up the story. Authentic and solid, the friendship in the book thoroughly mirrors what friendship is like in real life. I also love the father and daughter angle! Andie and her dad’s bonding moments are heartfelt and endearing.

The romance is adorable! With an undeniable chemistry, Andie and Clark are so meant to be! I love the way The Unexpected Everything illustrates how a love story unfolds—the meet-cute, the awkward first date, getting to know each other, and lastly, falling in love! ❤

Morgan Matson is so good in making readers feel that they’re part of the story as well as giving happy feels!

A blissful and charming novel, The Unexpected Everything is a YA contemporary you’d definitely want to add to your TBR pile! 🙂

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

A Bright and Lovely Sunday: Jennifer Niven in Manila!

If there’s one day I’d like to relive, it would be May 29, 2016 — Jennifer Niven’s signing in Manila. It was so colorful and bright and all the lovely things combined! ❤

Q&A with Jennifer

Q&A with Jennifer Niven

My fellow book bloggers and I attended a special Q&A with Jennifer where she talked about writing and her wonderful books. Jennifer’s sincere and soft-spoken nature was very admirable! I loved listening to her speak! ❤

Here are some interesting bits I’ve gathered from the Q&A:

*On adapting All the Bright Places into a screenplay, Jennifer said it was scary at first.

*Jennifer has a graduate degree in screenwriting.

*According to her, film doesn’t have as much space unlike in books.

*Readers are always the important thing for Jennifer.

*The All the Bright Places movie will start shooting in the Fall!

*For Jennifer, it’s important to have balance. When she’s on a writing break, she loves to dance, hike, go outside, read, and binge watch television. It’s recharging for her.

*Jennifer said that every book wants to be written differently.

*Writing Jack and Libby (in Holding Up the Universe) was a challenge.

*She creates a playlist for each of the characters.

*Jennifer kept surprising herself while writing Holding Up the Universe. Both she and her characters try to do the unexpected.

For more fascinating information, you may listen to the audio recording of the Q&A here.

Following the Q&A was the book signing! We all lined up to have our books signed. I felt everybody’s excitement as I waited to reach the front of the line!

Jennifer signing books

When my turn came, Jennifer smiled at me, and I couldn’t believe that I was face to face with THE Jennifer Niven — New York Times Bestselling Author and a friend I made online in 2014 who I’ve wished to meet!

Jen signing my book_01

Jennifer signing my copy of All the Bright Places!

Pictures with Jen

She is all the colors in one, at full brightness. ❤

After I had a picture taken with Jennifer, I hugged her tightly and told her that she’s amazing. Then Jen surprised me with a gift! An ARC of Holding Up the Universe! Squeee!!! *flails* Oh and guess what, I have a cameo in Holding Up the Universe! Thank you, Jen, for making my dream of becoming a character in a book come true! 🙂

Holding Up the Universe

Jen’s gift!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

While our fellow bloggers are still having their books signed, the Hardest Selfie Ever crew grabbed the opportunity to take selfies! These selfies were not really difficult to take as we’ve gotten better at squeezing ourselves into the frame as the years go by. The hardest selfies we’ve ever taken are still at Gayle Forman’s and Jenny Han’s book signings! Haha! 😀

Hardest Selfie Ever 15.0

The Hardest Selfie Ever 15.0 with Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs, Lyra of Defiantly Deviant, and Louisse of The Soul Sisters!

A bookish event wouldn’t be complete without a group picture! So here it is:

PH YA Book Bloggers 02

PH YA Book Bloggers with Jennifer Niven 🙂

After the event, I went up to Jen and thanked her for visiting the Philippines and for being an inspiration to me. I couldn’t stop saying thank you because my heart was overflowing with gratitude, happiness, and all kinds of feels. When I hugged Jennifer, she shared her brightness with me, and infused a sense of hope that the coming days are going to be better and brighter. Jennifer IS all the colors in one, at full brightness. I will never ever forget this day! 🙂

Convo with Jen

Convo with Jen

Jen wearing the bracelet

Jen wearing the bracelets I gave her! 🙂

The public signing was held at the Mega Atrium of SM Megamall at 2PM. From what I’ve seen in pictures, there were so many people who attended! Hooray!!!

 

Thank you National Book Store for bringing Jennifer Niven to the Philippines! You guys are rock stars! So much love for you! 🙂

To Jennifer, thank you very much for visiting the Philippines. You have no idea how happy I am that I got to meet you in person! We became friends on Twitter in late 2014 and after a year, we finally saw each other in real life! This time, I got to really hug you, and not just send you virtual hugs! I am also grateful for your writing advices and for constantly encouraging me to keep on writing. You make me bright and lovely! One day when I finish my book, you’ll be the first to know. ❤ I love you and I hope to see you again in the future! *hugs*

Signed books

Signed books ❤

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Signed chapter sampler

As I have posted on the @JenniferNivenPH Twitter page, I’m giving away a signed Holding Up the Universe chapter sampler to one (1) lucky reader!

Just answer this question on the comment section below:

How did All the Bright Places change your life?

I’ll choose the best answer!!! 🙂

*Giveaway is open to Philippine residents ONLY (I’m sorry, international readers! 😦 )

and will run until Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 5 PM

xoxo,

Jesselle

 

Check out the recaps of my friends!

Kai of Amaterasu Reads

Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again

Salve of Cuckoo for Books

 

 

ARC Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

25028285Title: The Square Root of Summer

Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Publication date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Pages: 304

Source: ARC gifted by the author (Thank you, Harriet! 🙂 )

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis:

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

When I heard about The Square Root of Summer, I knew I had to read it! A YA novel on time travel and quantum physics set in a contemporary world? Sold!

Unlike any time travel book, The Square Root of Summer is an eccentric, mind-blowing, and at times mind-bending experience. It makes readers think and question and keep turning the pages to understand everything. An electrifying roller coaster ride, The Square Root of Summer deals with grief over losing someone you love and figuring things out. This made it different from other contemporary with a sci-fi twist books.

The characters are a mix of diverse personalities that brought out the heart of the story in a wondrous way. Main character Gottie Oppenheimer is such a delight. She has an engaging voice that jumps off the pages. The romance of Gottie and Thomas is a flail-inducing kind! Oozing with sweetness and cuteness, readers would always look forward to Gottie and Thomas scenes! 🙂

Riveting and adventure-filled, The Square Root of Summer is an impressive debut that will take you on a thrilling journey through time.

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

 

ARC Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

23466626Title: Dreamology

Author: Lucy Keating

Publication date: April 12, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 336

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, HarperCollins!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis:

Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Reading Dreamology is a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to read a story about people who dream of each other and then meet in real life. The moment I read the book’s synopsis, I knew that the story would be something different. And yes, Dreamology lived up to my expectations. It made me see the wonders of what-ifs and the magic of impossibilities made possible. Its unconventional concept is what made it special.

A light and fast read, every chapter of Dreamology is enveloped with intrigue, leading to a surprising revelation or a question being answered. This book is quite an attention-grabber!

The romance is sweet and dreamy! Meeting your dream boy/dream girl IRL is like a fairy tale, isn’t it? Alice and Max = OTP! 🙂

Impressive and amusing, Dreamology is a debut that unbelievably shows what dreams are made of.

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

 

Blog Tour: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

V23 new typeface tagline.inddTitle: Tell Me Three Things

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Publication date: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 336

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Penguin Random House!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis: 

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

It’s summertime in the Philippines, and it’s the perfect season to indulge in YA contemporaries! If you were to ask me what book I’d recommend, it would be Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum! Why?

Because….

Tell Me Three Things will make you:

  1. Happy
  2. Smiley
  3. Giddy

And that’s what a summer read should be, right? Tell Me Three Things is sunshine, Popsicle, and ice-cold mango smoothie rolled into one! The story is stuffed with charming and blissful feels! However, there are also scenes that exhibit raw and intense emotions that brought out main character Jessie’s flaws, which I appreciated about the book. Tell Me Three Things illustrated love, loss, and acceptance in a way that readers could easily connect with the story.

Loaded with characters that have diverse personalities, the story is indeed enjoyable and lively! Main character Jessie is so authentic, funny, and lovable! I loved reading her thoughts and her entire adventure.

Now the romance is my favorite aspect of this story because of its mysterious vibe. Jessie’s chat conversations with SN were delightful. Plus, I enjoyed not knowing SN’s identity until the moment of truth! The mystery made Tell Me Three Things difficult to put down as it kept me guessing who SN really is. I had a hunch of SN’s identity in the beginning chapters, but then things were just unpredictable! When SN’s identity was revealed, my happiness overflowed because he is the ideal match for Jessie. And hooray, my guess is correct! 🙂

Author Julie Buxbaum’s writing is fresh and entertaining! There was never a dull moment in Tell Me Three Things. The pace was just right—not too fast and not too slow. I look forward to reading more YA books by Julie Buxbaum in the future!

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

 

 

 

 

ARC Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

27235365Title: When We Collided

Author: Emery Lord

Publication date: April 7, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s

Pages: 344

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Bloomsbury Children’s UK!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis: 

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Emery Lord is indeed one of my favorite authors when it comes to YA contemporary novels. Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You both blew me away completely, so I made it a point to include her in my “auto-buy authors” list. This year, a new Emery Lord book comes out and believe me when I say that it will rock your world.

Told in alternate POVs, When We Collided is a profound and out of the ordinary kind of beautiful story. To tell you the truth, this book surprised me—but in a good way. When We Collided started effervescent and spellbinding that I actually thought it’s a feel-good, fluffy, summer read. But then I didn’t expect it would be heavy at some point along the way. This book is full of deep and indescribable emotions that puncture every bone in your body. So you better brace yourself for that! Furthermore, When We Collided is a huge eye-opener because the author takes readers inside the mind of someone with *insert name of illness* I applaud Emery Lord for a truthful execution of the story!

The characters are authentic in all facets. Vivi Alexander is a ball of sunshine. Her positive outlook is so contagious! Smart, creative, and full of surprises, she has magic in her that I can’t explain! However, beneath Vivi’s shimmering outward persona is a dark, mysterious version of herself. On the other hand, Jonah Daniels is a caring and responsible person. He takes care of his family, always putting them first. He’s also a sweet and thoughtful guy! He does swoon-worthy things for Vivi that totally melted my heart! ❤

Although the romance developed a bit fast for me, I admire the Vivi and Jonah moments that were charming and downright magical! I love how they understand each one’s flaws and supported one another as they treaded the road of love, acceptance, and healing.

Emery Lord’s writing is genuinely remarkable like an artwork oozing with zest. It’s easy to get lost in an Emery Lord book because the words will pull you in, bind your attention to the story, and never let you go. Most of all, I love how Emery writes realistic relationships and scenarios that readers could associate with at once.

A powerful story that will knock you off your feet, When We Collided is a perfect reminder that love brightens up life even when it is clothed in darkness.

Rating:

4.5/5 stars