Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Delacorte Press on May 2, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 432
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Publisher

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3.5 Stars, Completed March 22, 2017

– minor SPOILERS ahead –

windfall
/ˈwin(d)fôl/
noun

a piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves receiving a large amount of money.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck and especially not after she experienced the worst kind when she lost her parents nine years ago. But as a joke she decides to buy a lottery ticket as an eighteenth birthday present for her best friend that she has secretly loved for years, Teddy. To their utter disbelief, he wins $140 million and, suddenly, everything changes. Teddy’s newfound wealth will put an unexpected strain on their friendship; their once effortless understanding and dependence of one another after having grown up in tough circumstances together dissipates completely as they argue more and more. Thus, the money begins to feel more like a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice will discover more about herself and what she wants from life in moments she least expects.

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By Your Side by Kasie West

5By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on January 31, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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3 Stars, Completed February 15, 2017

– SPOILER free –

By Your Side is a light contemporary about two teenagers that develop an unlikely friendship after they’ve been accidentally locked in the library for a weekend. Dax is the school’s loner with a bad reputation. Whereas, Autumn is a do-gooder that doesn’t notice much beyond her camera’s viewfinder and inner group of popular friends. At first, Dax and Autumn only recall the negative impressions they have  of each other and do not get along. But after a few nights of shared vending machine snacks and real talks, both realize that the other is much more than what first meets the eye. They decide to call an amiable truce and soon begin to enjoy each other’s company. And when the pair are finally found and released, the question is after all they’ve shared will they remain friends or will they ignore each other as they had before?

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Blue Spring Ride

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0072Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) (アオハライド)
Original Story by
 Io Sakisaka
Art by Io Sakisaka
Published by Bessatsu Margar from 2011 to 2015
Genres: [Shoujo] Romance, School, Slice of Life
Volumes: 13
Chapters:
53
Status of manga:
 Completed*
My rating for the anime: 8/10
My rating for the live action film: 6.5/10

*Review based on entire manga series

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Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

3.5 Stars, Reread January 1, 2017

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

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Gif credits to wordstuck

If I had to choose one word to describe this manga series, it would be the Japanese adjective, “懐かしい” (natsukashii). This term is difficult to translate into English accurately and completely, but it is often used to express a yearning for something, or a slightly nostalgic feeling of missing. As a non-native and amateur learning the foreign language for my own fun, how I’ve personally interpret natsukashii is the feeling you get when you’re reminded of the past. And Blue Spring Ride made me feel just that.

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The story begins with two middle schoolers, Futaba Yoshioka and Kou Tanaka, that like each other making plans to attend a festival together during their school break. However, misunderstandings arise after Futaba accidentally blurts that she hates boys because of their obnoxious behavior. Kou hears her exclamation, and doesn’t meet up with Futaba the day of the event. Futaba believes that he stood her up for the outburst that he overheard, but really he couldn’t make it because of family issues. So she decides to address this misunderstanding when they return to school. But on the day of the new semester, Futaba discovers that Kou has already transferred schools to another town. With a lot of loose ends left and the strength of first love, the two never forget each other in spite of the distance. And then years later, fate makes them enrolled in the same high school. Will they finally face each other after all this time? And will the attraction they shared from the past be rekindled?

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The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

thesunisalsoastar-680x1024The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 349
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Publisher

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4 Stars, Completed November 6, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Gosh, I adored this book so much.

The Sun is Also a Star is a story about two teenagers, living very different lives, that happen to meet. Natasha is a girl that has solely relied on her knowledge of science and facts. When her father carelessly exposes their family of being undocumented immigrants, Natasha finds that she has to leave the “land of opportunity” and return back to the place she was born, Jamaica. But she can hardly view the island as her home since she hasn’t lived there since she was a young girl. She feels more American than anything. Then there’s Daniel. He has always been the good son-the one that has made the good grades, proudly kept his Korean roots, and met his parents expectations. So when his brother receives a suspension from an ivy league college, all the more pressure is put onto Daniel to redeem and save face for the family. However, deep down, Daniel knows he doesn’t really want to be a doctor but rather a poet. So when Natasha and Daniel encounter each other to say that they have an instant connection is too unrealistic.  But both find that this serendipitous meeting and the company of the other is exactly the distraction they need in their lives at that moment.

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating

tumblr_o3u5gmADuQ1qdlytco1_1280Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Published by Harper Teen on April 12, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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2.5 Stars, Completed August 5, 2016

– read the bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

I feel pretty bad about this rating because it seems like the majority greatly enjoyed Dreamology; and there were certainly moments where I did, too, but I also had issues with the characters and romance which prevented me from overall truly being fond of the standalone.

…dreams and reality are far from the same.

In Dreamology readers are introduced to Alice and Max, a cute pair that, like many couples, meet everyday… but only in their dreams. Then on the first day of class, Alice walks into her new school and notices a boy exactly like Max. Though he is indeed the one and the same, the real life Max is different from the dream Max that Alice has known practically all her life. And as they get to know each other’s true personalities, they have to face a number of obstacles before they can be a real couple-one of the biggest being that their dreams are bleeding into reality. To prevent from going mad, Alice and Max will have to decide whether they want to put an end to the merged dreams.

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Final CoverMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Pages: 293
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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4.5 Stars, Completed June 23, 2016

– read the bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

[That awful moment when you realize you scheduled a post unfinished… 😮 Yup, that actually happened with this book’s review early last week. For those that follow Xingsings via email, so sorry for the confusion! I guess you guys got a special glimpse of the process I take while composing a book review. Anyway, this is the official one for More Happy Than Not.]

It’s sort of funny how bad I am at skimming my friends’ reviews, because I totally missed the crucial memo about More Happy Than Not: it is a sad book, not a happy one as the title suggests. I dived into it totally assuming it would make me laugh more than cry. (I mean there is a smile on the original cover…) But, gosh, was I wrong.

Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up. But the pain can only help you find happiness if you can remember it.

More Happy Than Not follows Aaron Soto, a guy with a smile-shaped scar on his wrist to remind him of a period of overwhelming grief and misery. This summer his supportive girlfriend, Genevieve, leaves him for art camp and he’s left all alone. Aaron then befriends the kid on the other block, Thomas. He finds that hanging out with Thomas brings him a sense of happiness different from Genevieve and his other friends, and he soon has to face what these newfound feelings mean. Aaron then considers turning to Leteo Institute’s cutting edge memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out (quite literally in the figurative sense), even if the consequence is forgetting who he truly is.

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The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Published by David Fickling Books on January 1, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 353
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3.5 Stars, Completed June 17, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

“Who wants to be normal anyway? Fancy that on your gravestone. Here lies so-and-so. They were entirely normal.”

The Art of Being Normal shares a story about two people with very big secrets. Ever since grade school David Piper has been known as the school freak for writing, “I want to be a girl when I grow up.” But he’s had two best friends that have cheered and supported him throughout the years-that is until he becomes the third wheel when the two best friends decide to upgrade from being “friends” into “in a relationship.” Around the same time, Leo Denton, has just moved to David’s school. For Leo, all he craves for with this new institution is a chance to maintain an invisibility that he lacked at his last. Once the two meet, David and Leo are immediately drawn towards each other for unknown reasons, and they soon form a comfortable and sincere friendship.

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The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

NewGuy jkt des.1.inddThe New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)
by Amy Spalding
Published by Poppy on April 5, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: NOVL

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1 Star, Completed June 6, 2016

– SPOILER free –

I really want to be able to say that if I read this three-ish years ago when I was a senior in high school that the story would be relatable and appeal to me more. But, alas, I still wouldn’t think I’d enjoy it.

In The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions), Jules McCallister-Morgan is a senior at Eagle Vista Academy. She’s an honors student, organization freak, and may even be slightly neurotic. Her idea of an ideal senior year is earning her position as editor of The Crest, her school’s newspaper, getting into Brown University, and proving to herself that she was worth the money her moms invested in in order to have her. What she doesn’t expect to find is that she’ll become editor by default because her opponent has already moved on to better things and backed out of the competition; Alex Powell, ex-boy band member of the one hit wonder group, Chaos 4 All, is the new guy at school; and she may be interested in having a boyfriend more than she initially thought. Least of all, she didn’t anticipate becoming commander of one of the sides of a high school war.

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You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

You Know Me WellYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Published by St. Martin’s Press on June 7, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed June 1, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Have you ever met a person and instantly just clicked? It’s funny how life works. People may have cross paths before but it’s not until a specific encounter before their lives may entwine. You Know Me Well embodies this puzzling but amazing entity called friendship so excellently.

The story is about two openly gay high schoolers that coincidently meet at a bar the first night of Pride week. They’ve had Calculus together for the last year, but neither of them have ever spoken to the other. But that fateful night, they, both troubled and wary of love, find an instant connection and solace in each other. Told in an alternating perspective by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well refreshingly explores the a type of love that is often overlooked in YA literature: platonic love.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me-before-you-book-cover-jan-12-p122-1Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #1 (1/2)
Published by Viking on December 31, 2012
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
Pages: 369
Format: Audiobook –> Paperback
Source: Audible –> Purchased

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4 Stars, Completed January 21, 2016

– to avoid major SPOILERS read bold text only –

Spending my last day as a teenager crying in the corner as I finished this wasn’t quite ideal. I was sporting the unbelievably puffy panda eyes look on my 20th birthday (which proved to not be that photogenic). But, more importantly, I hadn’t anticipated that I’d become a volunteer publicist for Me Before You. This happened because I was trying to explain to people the cause of my late night distress as well as convince them to read this moving story. Nevertheless, I am so glad I chose to read this British novel because beyond the emotional ride was a touching and enlightening story.

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

Lou Clark has led an ordinary and uneventful life until the moment she loses her job at the tea shop. From there, she seeks new work and she stumbles upon the opportunity of taking care of young, handsome and successful Will Traynor, who has become a quadriplegic after a recent motorcycle accident. Little does she know that this job, though sometimes unpleasant but often times rewarding, will forever change her view on life and how she plans to live it.

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