Mini Reviews of the Mediocre

Mini Reviews of the Mediocre
Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi

by Lauren Gibaldi

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: June 14th 2016
Rating: on a journey
Times read: 1
Recommended by: @ericsmithrocks on twitter

“I look at him, and he leans forward, touching my arm. "I think it's up to you, to be who you want.” 

Maude is a senior in high school and because of a photography assignment is spending her spring break with her best friend's college trying to find information about her dead birth mother. There were a lot of things that I liked about this book. There was a kind of effortless diversity that needs to happen more often.  I like that the evolving nature of friendship was explored.  I didn't need the love interest, but he didn't bother me.  I needed more about the adoption angle.  There are all kinds of feelings and issues to be subtly explored. Maybe they were, and because I am not adopted and have not adopted, I am not sensitized to them. It ended up being okay, and I had higher expectations than that.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato 

Guitar Notes
by Mary Amato 

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: July 24th 2012
Rating: should have been middle grade
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Goodreads

“Maybe it explains the reason why one person likes another. It's because their souls both thrum at the same frequency.”

Two high school students with nothing in common start to communicate through notes left in a share music rehearsal room at school. Although this book is about 11th graders, it feels like a Middle-grade novel rather than a YA.  The writing, themes, language, and content all are appropriate for younger readers.  In fact, if you switched up Tripp and Lyla's ages to 12 or 13 there would have to be no other changes to make it a Middle Grade. The music part of the book was very well done. My favorite part of this book was the fact that both characters manage to become genuine friends without there being a romance.  This should happen more often.

Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

Wesley James Ruined My Life
by Jennifer Honeybourn

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Series: no
Published: July 18th 2017
Rating: rolled my eyes
Times read: 1
Recommended by: twitter

"King Henry VIII won’t shut up. Not the real King Henry VIII, obviously. That would be crazy, given the dude’s been dead for five hundred years. This King Henry is really Alan Rickles, retired weatherman/local dinner theater actor."

This book irritated me.  Something happened years ago, and Quinn Hardwick’s life changed for the worse.  She blames a boy who was, like ten at the time.  He comes back into her life, and she proceeds to be a heinous bitch. And then they fall in Love. Maybe I just don't hold grudges correctly? The writing was decent, so I am going to try out her next book.  It might just be this trope that does not work for me rather than there being something wrong with the book.

The Opposite of Ordinary by Jessica Sorensen 

The Opposite of Ordinary
by Jessica Sorensen 

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Series:The Heartbreaker Society #1
Published: October 16th 2016
Rating: Side-eyeing the stupid
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Amazon

"I confessed my confusion to Queeny because, bitch or not, she was my best friend."

The plot what a both too simple and cartoonish and too complicated and over the top. I think if you like things like Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl this might be more up to your ally. A mean girl gets dumped by her mean girlfriends because of a rumor, and they start to try to ruin her life. I would like to say that she changes and learns something but she really doesn't seem to.  She just switches groups. There is also so much cyber bullying (and just general bullying) in this book, and no one freakin' tells an adult. I really can't stand when books give this message to readers especially when the target audience is young readers. Displeased. A much better former mean girl story would be Before I Fall.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith

Goodreads Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: January 2nd 2012
Rating: cute
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Goodreads

“It's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity.” 

This the story of a girl who is reluctantly flying from the US to the UK to reluctantly attend her father's wedding. Along the way, she meets a guy, and things seem to change. It is one of the very few books that pulls off instalove.  There I said it.  And while t was able to pull it off, the concept of the story happening in a 24 hour period rushed everything else.  I felt as if this should have been Part One of a book. I wanted more development from it. Maybe an epilogue?  Despite my nit-picking, this is actually my favorite Jennifer E. Smith book.

Interference by Kay Honeyman

by Kay Honeyman 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: September 27th 2016
Rating: how to manipulate
Times read: 1
Recommended by: goodreads

“You're so busy trying to prove what you do know, you ignore everything you don't.” 

I have been absolute trash for this trope for the last year.  I am both horribly repelled by politics and completely fascinated. In this book, Kate Hamilton is the daughter of a Senator whose family has retreated to Texas in the wake of a scandal. It was readable enough, but Kate is manipulative as all hell, there is more drama than a teen soap opera, and all your sense of reality needs to be suspended. I read it vaguely enjoyed it and had trouble remembering a thing that happened. If you want a book where the main character is related to a powerful politician check out The Right Side of Wrong.


Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

This cover is beautiful

This cover is beautiful

by Jennifer E. Smith
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: May 2nd 2017
Rating: 141 million

I have read most of Jennifer E. Smith's books. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was pretty good, but for the most part, I find her work to be like and forgettable.  It isn't bad, and I read them when I come across them, but I couldn't name a character from any of them or even tell you what happens in them beyond the obvious. Windfall, while one of my favorite of hers, falls into that category. If you talk to me next week, I will remember that I read it and that it was pretty good.  Light and entertaining.  That will be it.  

I do like the theme that what we really want, money can't buy. I also like the idea that what we buy reflects who we are. Money matters and not having enough or having too much can become this defining thing. It becomes the entirety of your identity. This is a book in which things very much happen to the characters rather than the character personalities driving the plot. More the way a mystery or thriller might but, you know, a romance. There is nothing wrong with that; I just don't prefer it. It left the characterization a bit thin. 

We have all sorts of words that could describe us. But we get to choose which ones are most important.

Alice is a little too good and pure. She is heading for Stamford, volunteers regularly, and has two good friends. She is an orphan who lives with her Aunt and Uncle.  We don't learn much more about her. What does she like to eat? What does she look like? There are a million things that make up a person, and unfortunately, we don't see these other sides to Alice. This might have been less frustrating if the book hadn't specifically pointed out that people can be more than one thing at a time.  I understand that Alice is trying to figure it out, but I could have done with some more clues while I tried to puzzle her out.

Teddy is adorable and charming. He doesn't strike me as the brightest bulb. He is a little too optimistic and impulsive. He is an extreme extrovert.  I always find extroverts to be difficult to read about and relate to.  Personal bias. There is nothing wrong with wanting to and enjoying other people like you.  Just because the attention he goes out of his way to cultivate makes my soul shrivel just to read about does not mean that there is something wrong with him. 

Leo is a bit of a throwaway character. I understand what his role in the story is, but he was shunted to the side too much and needed more dialogue. As do his parents.  They are very supportive and cool, and I wanted more of them.

This wasn't a bad book by any means.  If you like YA romance, then this is a no-brainer.  I just would have liked to see more character development. That being said; I will probably read more books by Jennifer E. Smith.

From Goodreads:

Let luck find you.

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.