Tag: YA

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

Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost

Elysium Girls
Author: Kate Pentecost

Published: April 14, 2020
400 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Elysium, Oklahoma, is a town like any other. Respectable. God-fearing. Praying for an end to the Dust Bowl. Until the day the people of Elysium are chosen by two sisters: Life and Death. And the Sisters like to gamble against each other with things like time, and space, and human lives. Elysium is to become the gameboard in a ruthless competition between the goddesses. The Dust Soldiers will return in ten years’ time, and if the people of Elysium have not proved themselves worthy, all will be slain.

Nearly ten years later, seventeen-year-old Sal Wilkinson is called upon to lead Elysium as it prepares for the end of the game. But then an outsider named Asa arrives at Elysium’s gates with nothing more than a sharp smile and a bag of magic tricks, and they trigger a terrible accident that gets both Sal and Asa exiled into the brutal Desert of Dust and Steel. There Sal and Asa stumble upon a gang of girls headed by another exile: a young witch everyone in Elysium believes to be dead. As the apocalypse looms, they must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor — only by reinventing the rules can they beat Life and Death at their own game in this exciting fantasy debut.

Kim’s Review:

This. Cover. It’s gonna be awfully hard to beat this absolutely amazing cover! I didn’t even read the description until after I had gotten home with it! Then I saw that the description sounded interesting so I moved it to the top of my list. Definitely worth it! The story was pretty unique! It was kinda Grapes of Wrath mixed with Mad Max and a little Harry Potter … if that doesn’t intrigue you, then I’m not sure what will!

My only real issue was the virtue signaling that kept cropping up. The one that really bothered me was small, but to me it was problematic. At one point, Sal and Asa met a couple of the desert girls and one was described as white and the other as Black … one capitalized, one not. I’m not ok with that. Unfortunately, it distracted and bothered me enough to bring my rating down. But thankfully, the characters were likeable, the plot engaging, and the experience uncommon. I think this would be a great book to give to a teen that wants to start reading! I loved the idea of magic within a Dustbowl community and those horses … well I can’t give much else away! I would recommend this to most teens and to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

The Girl Who was Supposed to Die
Author: April Henry

Published: June 17, 2014
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 13-15, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

Jessica’s Review:

I am about to give 100% honesty here (but it’s not like I ever give less than 100%, some reviews are harder or easier to write than others): I was not expecting much from this novel when I started listening to it.  I had finished one audiobook and was waiting on another to arrive.  The Girl Who was Supposed to Die  is a short audiobook, just under 5.5 hours and I finished it within two days, which is similarly the time period of our story.

Cady is our narrator and she tells us her story, starting with waking up with zero memories and she hears a man ordering another to kill her.  Needless to say she gets away and now we have a cat and mouse chase for the rest of the novel, or do we?  With no memory, Cady could be an unreliable narrator.  Is she actually mentally ill or is there a story going on here? 

We do get an answer to this question by the time we get to the last act of the novel.  It is a fast paced and gripping novel, yet it goes in a direction that is not very believable.  But I found myself so engrossed in Cady’s story, I was able to let go of the lack of believability.  I enjoy first person and being told the protagonist’s story directly from their lips. 

I would suggest going into this one not knowing or expecting much about the book and you might be pleasantly surprised as I was. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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