Tag: Realistic FIction

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Jackpot
Author: Nic Stone
Published: October 15, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 28-June 5, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

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.

Jessica’s Review:

I am a Nic Stone fan, and a big influence has to do that we are both from not only the same home state of Georgia, but the same home county: I love how she mentions her former high school: Norcross High School. I went to a different high school than her, but still it is really amazing to hear the familiarity of things you know so well!  (This also happened to me when I listened to the audio book of Dear Martin– OMG, Stone Mountain Park was mentioned: I worked my high school and college summers there!!!)

Ok, enough of the fangirling, now to get on to the review of Jackpot.

Jackpot is a story that portrays class, privilege, and diversity. After being at school during the day, Rico works her evenings at a convenience store to help her family to be able to pay the bills.  It is Christmas Eve and Rico sells a few lottery tickets, and she later finds out the store she works at sold THE winning ticket!  Rico recognizes a few numbers and believes the older woman she saw on Christmas Eve is the winner and may not know it as no one has claimed the winning ticket (the woman mentioned memory problems). Rico sets out to find this mystery woman with the help of a popular classmate who is also of the ‘rich’ class.  Together Rico and Zan set out on a long term adventure and maybe discover a little bit of romance.

I listened to the audiobook version and LOVED it.  Stone narrates Jackpot herself and put all of herself into the narration.  She gives Rico the attitude that she wanted portrayed.  I also really enjoyed the side narrations of inanimate objects that add to the story/journey that Rico and Zan go on. 

Stone realistically shows how some families truly do live paycheck to paycheck and how even one event could happen and cause financial disaster to a family. I was not a fan of Rico’s mom whose pride was too much to even get any form of assistance for her family.  I get that you may not want to be on assistance and fend for yourself, but when it comes to the detriment of your family (mom has money issues and Rico handles it all) and even the fact that your child has to help the family make rent each month. Let alone living in an area you can’t afford!   School should be Rico’s priority, not helping to take care of her mom and little brother. There is a huge difference between getting assistance when needed and taking advantage of the system. 

I really enjoyed the journey Rico and Zan went on and did not know where the story was going for the conclusion, but I should have seen it coming!  I loved the ending.

I will definitely be reading more by Nic Stone! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Trapped by Michael Northrop

Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop
Published: February 1, 2011
232 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 2-6, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . .

Jessica’s Review:

Trapped is a short and quick read that I enjoyed until it abruptly ended.  Were the last few chapters accidentally left out of my copy?  Nope, that was it!  Who lives, who dies, and what’s going to happen next?  I will have to decide that on my own…

I was pulled in from the beginning wondering what was going to happen.  I knew it was going to be a bad storm, but the snow just would not stop!   These poor kids just kept getting worse off as the novel progressed.  For a YA novel that has boys and girls stuck alone together, there surprisingly was not much teenage drama: They were focused on survival. 

If you like quick YA reads, give Trapped a try. Our narrator is a boy, which is a rarity in YA novels.  *Disclaimer*:  Going in keep in mind that the novel ends with no conclusion/ epilogue.

Northrop wrote another novel which interests me called Surrounded by Sharks.   It is similar to Trapped in that it deals with survival, but I doubt I will read it.  It is about the same length as Trapped and I am afraid that there will be no conclusion, and my thinking is this:

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

If you have actually read Surrounded by Sharks, I would love to know if there is a conclusion to that novel!

Other than the lack of conclusion, Trapped would be perfect to read while it is snowing: I just hope you don’t end up in a blizzard like our poor teens!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Jessica’s Thoughts on Hope and Other Punchlines

Kim read and reviewed this one a few months back and her review caused me to want to read it! My local library had it available on audiobook, and I was able to listen to it.

Kim’s review is here.

Hope and Other Punch Lines
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Published: May 7, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 25- October 4, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.

Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

Jessica’s Review

All I can say about this book is this: WOW. September 11, 2001 is a day we will always remember as it is the day that changed the entire world: It was my senior year of college and I was in an 8am class. We had no idea that anything had happened until people started showing up for the 9:15 class. We still had that class but then I ran to my dorm room and saw the second building fall. I ran to the campus safety class where I was a student worker as ‘my boss’ the campus safety director was from New York. I spent the rest of the day in the Student Union Building. 

Hope and Other Punch Lines  is a powerful book that talks about that day and its aftermath.  Abbi Hope Goldstein is “Baby Hope” who was one year old at the time of the attacks. She is ‘famous’ for a picture that was taken of her while in the background one of the World Trade Center buildings is collapsing.

Abbi just wants to live as normal a life as possible despite being sick at times and not being recognized for this picture she had no control of.  She is trying to have a normal summer being a camp counselor when she is recognized as Baby Hope by Noah. The two team up to find out more about the picture of Baby Hope as Noah also experienced tragedy on that day that he will also not remember.  As they work together they discover things they never even imagined possible.

Hope and Other Punch Line is very powerful for those who experienced 9/11 and will also help those who will only learn about that terrible day from history books.  We see the attitude difference just 15 years makes between those who lived it and those who have to learn about it. 

I did not cry while listening to the audiobook, but you can’t help but remember that day and the emotions you felt, and characters in the book experience these same emotions.

This is a book everyone should read. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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