I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Published by Skyhorse Publishing on May 2nd 2017
Format: eARC (256 pages) • Source: Publisher
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Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future. Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.
Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.
When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.
But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper.
Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.
I’ll be honest… I think three stars is generous for this one. I liked the ending, which does outweigh some flaws for me! I love second-chance-romance stories, especially when the two characters were best friends through childhood and reunite when they’re older. I also love anything involving time travel or alternate universes. In theory, this book is right up my alley! However… while the setup was interesting, SO much more could have been done with this premise.
The biggest flaw for me – that can be applied to every single aspect of the story – is that the book lacked depth. It didn’t have any oomph to it. The romance was fine, the characters were fine, the time travel was fine… but that’s it. There wasn’t enough characterization for me to feel anything for the characters; I knew the bare minimum about them. Honestly, there were so many chapters where I forgot whose head I was in at the time. Characters (and their thoughts) should not be that flat and similar. I liked the side characters and their relationships, but they were even less developed. I don’t think we even know officially what happened to her aunt? And her relationship with her mom? I know the two things are related but the “closure” around those issues was either rushed or nonexistent.
Time travel is a huge draw for me, but that was kind of boring too. Kale (yes I kept picturing the leafy vegetable) keeps traveling to the same time period for some reason and is trying to figure out how he can control this power. He disappears for days at a time and wants to be able to choose when and where to go instead. In the end, the solution to this problem was WAY too simple for me. View Spoiler »He realized after all this time that he just needed to remember DETAILS about the places he wants to go and come back to? Somehow this would make everything work for him? « Hide Spoiler Also, one of the biggest things that comes up in the last third of the book is revealed in the plot summary. They make it seem like it’s the main issue of the book (read the last paragraph of the synopsis if you’re curious) but it happens around 75% of the way in. That’s essentially a spoiler!
Some parts of the story felt very unnecessary and were over-explained, while many other parts could have used a few more pages of explanation or wrapping up. I don’t dislike this book, which is why it got three stars, but I also got pretty much nothing from it when I finished. The end of the story was the best part and I liked learning about how they would go forward. View Spoiler »Kale learns that his time travel exists to help people who need it. When he was in WWII, he was able to save his medic friend, so he’d go on and live a good life. He continued to help and save people during different parts of history. « Hide Spoiler The ending actually makes me wish this was a series to see where things go from here.
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published by Random House on May 2nd 2017
Also by this author: This Is What Happy Looks Like, Happy Again, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Summer Days & Summer Nights, Field Notes on Love
Format: ARC (432 pages) • Source: Gift
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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 was in a pretty serious reading slump when I pulled this baby out. I got stuck in a few fantasy books (even had to put one of them aside for now) and only finished 3 books by mid-April. TERRIBLE reading for me! (Totally doesn’t help that I was again addicted to podcasts and not listening to audiobooks either…) This book broke me out of my slump! 🎉
Alice buys her best friend, Teddy, a lotto ticket for his 18th birthday. He ends up actually winning and of course everything changes for them, his family, and her family. Her parents died when she was young, within a year of each other, so she lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin (Leo). Her whole life plan gets changed from this ticket even though she crazily doesn’t take any money from him.
Alice has harbored this giant crush on Teddy for years and is trying to get over him. Even though they’d been friends for 9 years, he kind of treated her like shit? I just felt like he was a dick most of the time and even though I felt like they’d still end up together, he would never really make it up enough for me. There was a smalllll love triangle in the middle with a character named Sawyer that was truly pointless. Like… lasted a handful of chapters and made no difference on the story whatsoever.
The book could have gone in a million different directions because of this lottery plotline. Teddy could blow it all, she could take some money, they could stop being friends… anything. I liked that this was a super low drama and surprisingly not angsty YA romance. Because of her parents passing away (and Teddy’s rocky home life), I thought there would more conflict. I think those parts worked well in the story.
The message/moral of the story was heavy-handed, especially at the end. It obviously had to do with the lottery, changing lives, and helping others, so it was NICE… but just very forced on the reader instead of letting them just understand it on their own.