Happy Tuesday all! As I think I mentioned in my last wrap-up, I have actually been able to get back into my reading groove. Today I am going to be reviewing my three most recent reads: two contemporaries and one thriller.
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda-
First off, let’s just admire how beautiful this cover is. The color scheme is so aesthetically pleasing and the dark woodsy cabin already sets the tone of creepiness for the rest of the novel. The Perfect Stranger is Megan Miranda’s second adult thriller, the first being All the Missing Girls, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This book follows former big city journalist Leah Stevens, who after a scandal, picks up and moves to rural Pennsylvania to work as a high school English teacher. Leah moves into a secluded home with her old roommate from 8 years prior, Emmy, who was the one that actually prompted Leah to start over in this small town with her. To Leah, Emmy is an enigmatic free spirit escaping a bad relationship who she thinks she knows like the back of her hand, but as the story progresses and Emmy goes missing, Leah realizes that she might not have known Emmy at all. Add in a comatose patient, a murdered ex, a downright creepy high schooler and a sexy detective and you have all the right components for a great thriller. I really did enjoy this book, I think maybe even a little more than Miranda’s previous thriller. Although just like in that book, I felt like the “big reveal” or twist fell a little flat. There was so much build-up, I guess I was just expecting more “oomph” to it. Miranda has a fantastic way of getting you to genuinely care about her characters and feel like you are actually in the story right alongside Leah trying to piece everything together. And though the reveal was not what I had hoped, I did find that this book was anything but predictable, which is hard to find especially in this genre. This book is not particularly long, so it would make a fantastic summer read. 4/5 stars
Fireworks by Katie Cotugno-
Again, this cover is incredible. I was immediately drawn to it because of how unique and fun it looked. I am so so glad that I decided to pick this one up, it did not disappoint. Fireworks is Cotugno’s third novel, the second being 99 Days. I read her second novel several years back and remember enjoying it, but that’s about all I remember. In this novel, set in the mid-late 90’s, we follow Southern best friends Dana and Olivia. Having grown up in a small town with her single, alcoholic mother, Dana has spent pretty much all of her time with BFF Olivia, even considering Olivia’s mom as more of a parent figure than her own. But being Olivia’s best friend, Dana has grown used to living in her shadow. For as long as Dana can remember, Olivia’s only goal in life has been to leave their dumpy town and become a pop singer. When the girls graduate high school, Olivia finds out about an open audition to be a part of the next big girl band. Dana decides to accompany Olivia to Orlando as moral support, but when she gets there, she is surprised to find out that the studio wants HER to audition. And having only sung backup for Olivia growing up, Dana is floored. Begrudgingly, Dana complies and apparently knocks the socks off the judges because next thing she knows her and Olivia, who also killed her audition, are being whisked away to live with two other girls and form the pop group Daisy Chain. Olivia, who has always been the star and center of attention, has trouble coming to grips with the fact that Dana could possibly begin to outshine her. Told from Dana’s point of view, this is a coming of age story about friendship, first love and following your dreams. This book was definitely a fun read and I loved that it was set during the height of girl and boy bands. I do wish that they had more 90’s references, because I honestly felt like this could have taken place in modern day. The references were there, they were just subtle. Cotugno’s writing style is reminiscent of pretty much most YA contemporaries, which isn’t a bad thing, especially not if you are like me and eat that stuff up. I just wouldn’t go as far to say there is anything particularly “special” about her writing style, though her stories on the other hand are fairly unique and that is something that, to me, is important. 4.25/5 stars
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Okay, I know I probably don’t need to point it out, but THIS COVER. Honestly I would rate all three books covers in this wrap-up a 10/10. Great job to the publishers on these. Moving on to this book now… If you are like me and never heard of the term “windfall” before, then let me enlighten you. Windfall means a stroke of good luck, often times involving money. Which means this is the perfect title of the book because it is all about winning the lottery. Windfall follows our protagonist Alice, her cousin Leo and her best friend Teddy, who she is desperately and secretly in love with. When Alice was nine, she lost both of her parents within a year of each other and was sent to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin. Immediately, Alice, Leo and Teddy became an inseparable trio. On Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice jokingly buys Teddy his very first lottery ticket as a gift. Imagine everyone’s surprise when they find out that Alice had picked the winning numbers and suddenly Teddy is a millionaire one hundred times over (seriously). What follows is series of A LOT of bad financial decisions, some great ones, and a whole lot of heartbreak. Initially when I picked this up, I thought it was going to be a very light hearted, fluffy read, and the first half really is! Though, as the story goes on, it deals a lot with grief of all kinds, finding yourself and somewhat unrequited love. I totally flew through the first half of this book, but as it got heavier I slowed down. The characters really started to piss me off. I could not understand why Alice was so in love with Teddy when he continually treated her like the F boy he was. But, I guess everyone has probably been in a similar situation, especially in high school, thus making it somewhat realistic, but not something I really cared about reading. I think that Alice was actually a fairly relatable character for an eighteen year old girl. She is at a crossroads in life, trying to figure out her future and whether the decisions she makes are for her or for everyone else. Teddy was awful. He was arrogant, ignorant and a total jerk. I really adored the character of Leo though, he was the sounding board for both Teddy and Alice and always the voice of reason, even as he was going through his own personal dilemma. Don’t get me wrong, this was a good book, it just was not what I was expecting. 3.5/5 stars