Jackpot by Nic Stone

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?
Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.
JackpotReview:
I loved Stone’s other novel, Dear Martin, so I was excited to read Jackpot when I picked it up at Target. Sadly, I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but there were some things that I didn’t enjoy.
Overall, I just really didn’t like Rico. I understand what it’s like to be poor, but she just complained about it and made Zan out to be a bad guy because his parents have money. Sure he doesn’t really get what she’s going through, but there are lots of poor people that don’t automatically dislike people with money just because they have money. She was really judgmental and I just didn’t like her very much.
I did, however, totally adored her little brother. He was so happy all the time despite the fact that his family was poor. He always had a smile on, even when he was sick.
Zan was definitely a little savior-ish, but he had good intentions and that was clear. I liked him right up until the big reveal about the missing lottery ticket. That really made me mad.
I enjoyed reading this book while I was reading it, but there were some things I didn’t like. I did like the diversity in this book. I liked the overarching theme, but Rico annoyed me and so did the ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

GoodReads Summary:
Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.
Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.
At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…
And she isn’t going down without a fight.
Don't Read the CommentsReview:
Thank you to NetGalley for approving me for this ARC. I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I follow Eric Smith on twitter and he’s just someone I think I’d get along really well with, so I wanted to check out this book.
I loved D1V right from the start. She’s just a girl that streams her games and has ended up getting sponsorships and other sorts of things. She uses these things to support herself and her mom. Her mom’s trying to finish graduate school at night and is almost done. I loved that her motivation was to help her mom. It was so sweet. I also loved that she stood up for what was right and didn’t back down when she started to get attacked by the horrible Vox Populi. I also totally loved her best friend Bekah. I adored Bekah naming things in the game after popular YA books she loved (Like Heart of Iron and This Savage Song).
Then there’s Aaron. I liked that he sort of had a savior complex because it allowed his best friend to stand up and tell him to chill out and take his complex somewhere else. I also liked that he wanted to follow his dreams, even if that might be disappointing his parents. I hated his friends (other than Ryan). They were selfish and horrible.
I thought this book was nerdy and important. It talks about important things. The dangers of having a prominent place online. The things trolls will do and say to people they don’t like or that have a certain gender or skin color. I think it discussed these topics very well.
Overall, this book will be beloved by the nerd community. I can already see it. I loved the characters and their development. I loved the incredibly important topics it covers, from assault to cyber bullying, and it does it well. I think this book is going to be a hit, so, preorder it, request that your library buys it, because you don’t want to miss this one.

Quotes:

“In my opinion, if you associate with trash, you should get thrown out with the rest of the garbage.”

“I think if you’re going to be a monster, you should at least have the courage to tell the world that you are one.” Ryan comments, scratching away at something with a pencil. I look over his arm and notice that he’s working on some king of dragon-type creature. “If you’re so proud to have twisted views that you go out and act on then in public, against people, you should show your face.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Tweet CuteReview:
I loved literally everything about this book. Tweet Cute was so adorable and funny and heartwarming. I have to give a huge thank you to Meghan Harrington with Wednesday Books for reaching out to be a part of the blog tour for this book. I’m so happy to be a part of the team shouting about this book!
Pepper is a girl with tons of parental pressure. The pressure to help run her family’s corporate Twitter (even though they literally have an employee that’s supposed to do it) and get good grades on top of that at her elite prep school. She also runs a baking blog with her sister (so yes, I will be trying to make one of their creations for an installment of Books & Baking.) Her desserts sound so freaking yummy.
Then there’s Jack, living in his twin brother’s shadow. He spends his time either diving with the school’s team or working at his parent’s restaurant. So, when he sees that Big League Burger has released a new grilled cheese that even has the same name as the one his parent’s restaurant, Girl Cheesing, is known for, he tweets from the Girl Cheesing account. It’s the tweet that launches a twitter war between the two.
I loved the banter between the two twitters. But even more, I loved the banter between Pepper and Jack. I’m one million percent team PepperJack forever. I really appreciated that Pepper wasn’t really comfortable with the whole thing and acknowledged that to her mom, though her mom pressured her to continue tweeting anyway. I thought it was great that once Jack found out that it was Pepper on the other side of the Big League Burger tweets they made it into a fun sort of game.
There was so much I loved about this. The baking, the banter, and the realizations. The development of the characters as individuals was so well done. They learn more about themselves, they talk with their parents and learn more about them, and they develop together as well. I thought it was all just done so well. I will be shouting about this book from the rooftops for the foreseeable future. So, just do me a favor and read it as soon as it is released.

Quotes:

“But sometimes even shouting into a void feels better than just staring into it.”

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find your way back.”

“Do you ever feel like someone just took something from you?” Yes, I want to say. Sometimes it feels like it’s been four years of this place taking and taking, and I’m all out of pieces to give—like I don’t even know the shape of myself anymore.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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GoodReads Summary:
Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.
Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?
The Anatomical Shape of a HeartReview:
If you’ve been following me for a while, this will be no surprise to you because I’ve read, reviewed, and loved all of Jenn Bennett’s other books. The Anatomical Shape of a Heat was sweet and wholesome, but also realistic and included important things.
I love Bennett’s books because the characters are always incredibly interesting and unique. Bex is trying to win a contest so she can go to school to make art for medical textbooks and such. She goes to a local college and spends time drawing medical cadavers. This was beyond interesting. I loved that it wasn’t just something easy for Bex to do. It was harder than she thought it was going to be.
Then she meets Jack. I adored Jack. He was kind and caring. He was mysterious and I loved it. I loved his family background and the struggles they’d been through.
I thought this pair was so cute together. They encouraged one another and I totally adored their relationship.
Overall, this was such a fun book. The characters were loveable and interesting. Their families were complex and compelling. The story was enjoyable and quick to read.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Summary:
One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy of Arts.
The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.
Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.
Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?
Goodbye DaysReview:
Jeff Zentner has done it again. Goodbye Days had me laughing and crying and heartbroken. I loved every page. It was such an interesting story with so many different dynamics and perspectives. I thought it brought a really interesting conversation to the table. There are many different things I loved about this book.

“Funny how people move through this world leaving little pieces of their story with the people they meet,  for them to carry. Makes you wonder what’d happen if all those people put their puzzle pieces together.”

The first things were the characters. Carver was flawed but relatable. He starts having panic attacks after his three best friends die, then starts seeing a therapist, Dr. Mendez. I loved Carver as our main character. He was a really get voice to tell this story. With all of the grief he’s dealing with, he’s also trying to work through the guilt of thinking he’s the cause of their death. He goes through all the what if’s and maybes, all while dealing with starting a new school year, without his friends. I liked Carver because he showed that it was okay to be vulnerable and flawed. That you didn’t have to have it all figured out. He showed that therapy is something that’s okay and can really help. I thought that was a really great part of the story. It brought an interesting conversation about mental health and guilt and grief all together in one setting.

“Grief if weird. It seems to come in these waves out of nowhere. One minute I’m standing in the ocean, fine. The next minute I’m drowning.”

Georgia, Carver’s older sister, was a wonderful addition to the story. I love books with siblings in them and this was an excellent one. The relationship she and Carver had was realistic and warmed my little heart. I adored that Georgia was here for Carver when he really needed her. She looked out for him and I’m a sucker for a good brother-sister relationship.

“The more I consider the mysteries of the universe, the less I understand them.”

Jesmyn was Eli’s girlfriend and then became Carver’s friend. I thought she was sweet and funny and a great influence on Carver. She isn’t afraid to set him straight but she’s there to support him when he needs it. I like that she’s there to experience and move through the grief alongside Carver.

“Dignity is overrated. People can live without it. I know because I did. But people can’t live without laughter. I’ll gladly change dignity for laughter because dignity is cheap and laughter is worth everything.”

Then there’s the Goodbye Days. I thought this was a really interesting concept. A day to share memories and stories. I thought it was interesting how Carver talked about it before letting his guilt agree to it for him. I really enjoyed how the Goodbye Days kind of came full circle. The first was exactly what it was supposed to be, each becoming a little less positive until the third ended the way it should have been all along. That’s super vague but I don’t want to give anything away about the story.

“We assume that it’s better to survive things, but the ones who don’t survive don’t have to miss anyone.”

Overall, I loved every page of this book. It was sad but funny at times. It was thought-provoking, but also an enjoyable story. I loved all of the little things that came from Zentner’s real-life experiences that he talks about on social media and elsewhere. I also absolutely adored the tidbits from The Serpent King that we got to see in this story. This is a new favorite book without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A single choice can change everything.
Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications, and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.
Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.
Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.
For what she let happen.
With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when she and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?
If There's No TomorrowReview:
I loved everything about this book. Jennifer Armentrout has done it again. I have not read a single book by this author that I didn’t love. I don’t know why I took so long to read this because it’s no secret that I love her books.

“Waiting is too risky. There’s no bad time to tell someone you love them.”

If There’s No Tomorrow is the book I didn’t know I needed. It’s actually pretty similar to the book that I am currently writing. This book tackles the hard topic of underage drinking as well as drinking and driving. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because of some personal experiences. I cried on and off for the last 60% of this story. It really hit me in the feels.

“One choice has altered the course of what  we were all supposed to become.”

We follow Lena as she’s going to school and dealing with the aftermath of her dad leaving, loving her best friend and not having those feelings returned, and summer ending. Then it happens. One night changes everything. The rest of the book we follow Lena as she’s trying to live with the aftermath. She’s dealing with loss and acceptance and feelings that she doesn’t know what to do with. I felt so hard for Lena because I have been where she was. I knew what this poor girl was going through. She made her own life harder, pushing away her loved ones and isolating herself. She’s so deep inside her own despair and turmoil of emotions that she let the rest of her life fall apart. Watching her pull herself out of the hole of depression was hard but rewarding. Seeing her talk to a therapist and open up to him and to her friends was the best part of this story. It was so good to see her do better for herself.

“What does waiting do? None  of us are promised a tomorrow. We learned that didn’t we? We don’t always get a later.”

I really loved the friend group that Lena was a part of. The four girls reminded me very much of my friends. I thought they were realistic and fun. But when things got hard, they were still realistic. They fought and some pushed away while others tried to pull closer. I really liked the friend group.

“Blame isn’t about making someone feel terrible about their actions, and it’s not about hurting the person’s feelings. Actions and inactions have consequences. If we did not accept 

Then there’s Sebastian. Lena’s next-door neighbor/best friend/secret love. I’m a total sucker for the friends to lovers trope. Probably because it’s my real life. I married my best friend. We are a real-life friends to lovers trope and it’s wonderful. So yes, it’s one of my favorites. It was so well done in this book. I loved Sebastian. He was an amazing friend to Lena, even when she pushed all her friends away. I really appreciated him because he was loyal and honest and pushed Lena to be the best version of herself.

“I’m not leaving. You can get mad. You can get upset, but I’m staying right here, becasue whether you realize it or not, you shouldn’t be alone. I’m not going anywhere.”

I overall adored everything about this book. The characters, the story, the writing. If There’s No Tomorrow will be going down as a new favorite book of mine. I definitely think this is a book that should be more talked about because it covers an important topic that sometimes gets over shadowed by the more hard-hitting books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

GoodReads Summary:
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.
Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.
When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
Anger Is a GiftReview:
I honestly don’t know what to say about Anger is a Gift. I read this book in one sitting last night because I just couldn’t stop even though it was 2am and I have a six-month-old so sleep is very precious in my house. I just couldn’t put it down. I’d like to mention that this book has quite a fair share of mixed reviews. It seems that people either loved it or hated it. I also want to mention that I am a straight white female so I’m not really the authority to determine whether the things in this book were portrayed accurately or not.

“And he cried because his world was split. He’d been cursed by violence and loss. He’d been blessed with love and support. He couldn’t separate them, and he had to learn to live with both.”

Anger is a Gift has such a diverse cast of characters. I thought it was so interesting (but again I can’t really judge as to whether they were accurate in their representation). There were characters of all races, religions, sexualities, and even mental health issues. I really enjoyed how casually they were talked about as characters. Moss’s little squad of friends was one I really enjoyed. They all had their own distinct personalities and each played an important role in this story. They were all so full of passion and desire to change their situation. I think it was really compelling to see these high school characters really try to make a difference at their school.

“Anger is a gift. Remember that.” She stood. “You gotta grasp on to it, hold it tight and use it as ammunition. You use that anger to get things done instead of  just stewing in it.”

The catalyst of the story killed me. I cried for basically the last 40% of the book. The events in Anger is a Gift were real and hard. The political message sent in this story was hard hitting and relevant. It left me wondering what I can do in order to do my part in this fight.

“How do you do it, Moss?” “Do what?” “Exist. When the world hates you so much.”

Overall, I really adored this book. It had characters I was quickly invested in. A story with a message that needs to be shared. I’m sad to see that this book isn’t talked about more than it is because it was such an important story. Have you read Anger is a Gift? What did you think of the representation and the message? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.