Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: April 26, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

MY THOUGHTS

I received a review copy from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have read and loved all of Jennifer E. Smith’s novels and Windfall was definitely no exception. It was beautifully written and had such a captivating story that I sprinted through the book. I thought it was cute and uplifting and definitely one of my favourite contemporaries that I’ve read so far this year.

The book starts with Alice buying a lottery ticket for her best friend, Teddy’s, 18th birthday. They’ve been best friends for 9 years and Alice has been secretly in love with Teddy for almost the entire time. They’ve bonded over their bad luck for years and years but things change when the lottery ticket turns out to be the winning ticket. Teddy’s life changes in the blink of an eye and Alice finds herself slowly losing Teddy and the friendship that they used to have. What I loved most about this novel was that it wasn’t just about the romance. At the forefront of the novel is a coming of age story and I highly enjoyed it. We got to learn a lot about Alice’s past and what happened to her parents 9 years ago that left her an orphan. We got to see Alice embrace who she is and who she wants to become and step out from her parents’ shadows. At the same time, we also get to see Teddy become a more responsible person as his life rapidly changes.

I adored the characters in this novel. I connected with Alice almost instantly and was really able to understand all of her fears and concerns, not only about her future but about her deteriorating relationship with Teddy. I really enjoyed her character growth throughout the novel and admired her strength at the end of the book. I also really loved Leo, Alice’s cousin, and the way that he was there for her and has been there for her the entire time that she’s lived with his family. I love seeing close relationships between siblings/family in YA novels and I found their relationship and bond to be really heartwarming. I also loved Leo’s personal story and his romantic with his boyfriend, Max. Teddy was a character that took me a little while to like but he grew on me throughout the story when he started to grow as a person.

The romance was probably my least favourite part of this novel, not because it wasn’t adorable, but because I couldn’t really connect with it. I felt that it needed a little bit more development and that everything progressed really quickly, which is probably understandable considering Alice and Teddy have been friends and probably harbouring feelings for each other for years. It just wasn’t really my favourite of all the friends to lovers romance that I’ve read. I felt like their friendship together was a much stronger bond and I enjoyed reading about that aspect a little bit more.

Overall, there wasn’t really much that I didn’t love about Windfall. Jennifer E. Smith never ceases to wow me with her contemporary novels and I loved all of the different themes that were explored in this book, especially the coming-of-age elements.

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

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Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday on my blog. I feel like it’s been a while but it’s only really been two weeks… Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is beach reads.

So… I don’t really go to the beach even though Sydney has some of the most beautiful beaches. But I’ve tried to choose ten books that are either set on the beach, set in summer or just a light and quick read that you could probably read in one sitting. And I’ve tried to choose books by a variety of authors so that I’m not putting down every single Huntley Fitzpatrick book, every Morgan Matson book and every Kasie West book (though you should read them all!).

1. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This amazing book is set in a coastal town and has a very summery feel. It’s also one of my favourite contemporaries and I’ll never stop recommend this book. It’s cute and summery but also packs a punch with its themes.

2. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Another book that is cute and summery but packs a punch, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a loose retelling of The Little Mermaid. As with all of Sarah Ockler’s other books, it goes beyond being a contemporary romance and delves into some serious issues. The message of this book really carries through and if you’re still not convinced, there are mermaids 😀

3. SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson

All of Morgan Matson’s books are perfect for summer and the beach, but Second Chance Summer is my favourite. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend bringing this one to the beach or reading it in public since it’ll probably make you ugly-cry at some point. But it’s set at the beach and the characters are so relatable!

4. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

I love Jennifer E. Smith’s books and I wanted to feature one in this list of cute and summery contemporaries. This one is also set in a coastal town and features a cute relationship with a small town girl and her penfriend, who turns out to be a Hollywood actor.

5. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

When it comes to quick and easy summer contemporary reads, Kasie West doesn’t disappoint. This is probably my favourite of her books that I’ve read. It’s got a really cute romance that kept me hooked. I finished the book in one sitting.

6. Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

This is a really recent read. It’s not really set in the summer but it’s a very quick and easy contemporary read by an Aussie author, and it feels super summery. This book is more NA than it is YA so if you a new NA book to read that isn’t completely full of sex scenes, try this one!

7. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

I thought I’d throw in a road trip book since road trips always remind me of summer. This is probably my favourite road trip book, though I do really like The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith too. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is also super quick to read. I think I read this in just one or two sittings.

8. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Another Huntley Fitzpatrick book that I love love LOVE! I’ve loved every single book that she’s ever written and this one was definitely no exception. It’s also set in a coastal town and feels very beachy. I absolutely loved the story and the characters in the book. Cass, the male love interest is just a super nice guy. Huntley Fitzpatrick is just so good at writing genuine and GOOD guys.

9. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Okay, this book isn’t really summery or beachy. There’s actually a lot of snow in this one… But I felt like I had to include a Stephanie Perkins book when talking about light contemporaries. This is my favourite of Stephanie Perkins’ books. Though I suppose she has a new anthology of short stories out that are summer-themed?

10. The Flywheel by Erin Gough

This is another book that isn’t really set in the summer but has a light, summery feel to it. It’s a really great LGBTQ+ book that’s set in Sydney with some really relatable characters.

Wrap Up: September 2015

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I read quite a lot of books in September but I kind of got stuck in a bit of a slump towards the middle of the month. A Little Life was so good that I had a bit of a book hangover, and it also didn’t help that I read a string of books that were quite average after it. But let’s get into what I read because I still managed to complete my 150 book challenge on Goodreads (which I’ve now increased to 200 books).

I am currently reading Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Stay tuned for a review on that!

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As always, these books are listed in the order that I read them during the month, and my reviews are linked.

1. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas 5 stars
This is the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series and it was so good! A really great continuation to the series and it ended so epically as well. Looking forward to Book 5!

2. Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between – Jennifer E. Smith 4 stars
This new contemporary release from Jennifer E. Smith did not disappoint. This book is about two high school graduates and their last night together as they try to figure out whether to break up or go long distance.

3. Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon 45 stars
A fast-paced and cute contemporary about a girl with SCID. This book has received so much hype and it’s all well deserved.

4. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara 5 stars
This was by far the best read of September for me. It took me 2 weeks to read but it was so worth it! Check out my review for in depth thoughts because this book is not for everyone.

5. Supermutant Magic Academy – Jillian Tamaki 3 stars
This was my first graphic novel in a while and it was just okay for me. I didn’t find it to be as funny as some other reviewers found it. It’s a very slice-of-life kind of book.

6. Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe – Milly Johnson 4 stars
This was a really fun book about female friendships and getting revenge on the men who have wronged you.

7. Fans of the Impossible Life – Kate Scelsa 1 star
A book about friendship and mental illness… I had many, many problems with not only the messages but also the writing style. Wasn’t really worth my time.

8. Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy 35 stars
A book with a great message about body weight and confidence. I loved the messages in this book but there were some things that I wish had been better executed.

9. Mosquitoland – David Arnold 35 stars
A really enjoyable book about a crazy road trip and friendship. There was a lot that I enjoyed about it but it was a bit too purple prose-y for me to fully enjoy.

10. The Replacement Wife – Rowena Wiseman 1 star
This is my least favourite read of the month, and probably one of my least favourite reads ever. I requested this on NetGalley because the author is Australian and it was a short book. Worst. Decision. Ever. It was a book full of terrible decisions and terrible writing.

11. The Substitute Bride – Kathleen O’Brien 4 stars
I just realised that this book has pretty much the same title as the previous one, but this was a much better read. I saw this in the free books section on iBooks so I downloaded it to give it a go. It was a really charming and enjoyable book.

12. The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness 4 stars
My first Patrick Ness book did not disappoint. It had a great premise and was executed really well. This is a book about all the other kids in the world and what happens to them when the chosen ones are off saving the world.

13. The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood 3 stars
A married couple living in a chaotic and anarchic world sign up to live in a utopia forever. They soon realise that this utopia is definitely more of a dystopia. A bit of a weird read for me. I still don’t really know how I feel about it.

14. Tonight The Streets Are Ours – Leila Sales 45 stars
This is a love story, but it’s not about romance. It’s a book about loving yourself and putting yourself first. This was definitely the surprise of the month!

15. The Landing – Susan Johnson 35 stars
Set in a small coastal town in Australia, an exploration of the joys and disappointments of love and humanity.

16. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll 35 stars
I don’t think this needs any introduction. I’ve read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before but this was my first time reading Through the Looking Glass. It was wonderful in parts but a bit draggy in others.

T10T

I did five Top Ten Tuesday posts this month:


I also did a giveaway this month to celebrate my birthday. And the winner of that giveaway was Kelly @ Dancing Through The Pages!

If you’ve done a September wrap up, leave me a link in the comments! I would love to check out what you’ve read!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books To Read If You Like…

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a ‘if you like this, read this’ list. Instead of choosing one book/author and giving ten recommendations based on that one book/author, I decided to do ten separate ones instead.


1. IF YOU LIKE SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA…

simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agendaYou might like The Flywheel by Erin Gough.

The Flywheel is an Australian YA novel that has very similar themes to Simon vs by Becky Albertalli. These both contain LGBTQ+ characters and love interests who are hesitant about coming out to their family and friends. The Flywheel is about a lesbian relationship and is set in Sydney, Australia! They’re both light and fun reads!


2. IF YOU LIKE TWILIGHT…

twilightYou might like The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is, in my opinion, a far superior book to Twilight. Don’t get me wrong, my teenage self loved Twilight, but I just think that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a much better vampire story. It’s also a standalone so you don’t need to push through 4 long books. And there’s also no love triangle!


3. IF YOU LIKE THE FAULT IN OUR STARS…

the-fault-in-our-starsYou might like Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider.

The Fault In Our Stars is about two teenagers battling cancer and Extraordinary Means centres on two teenagers who are battling a new strand of tuberculosis. Both novels have really cute romances and are filled with fun and adventure. Also, both of these books made me cry like a baby… for hours and hours.


4. IF YOU LIKE HARRY POTTER…

harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stoneYou might like The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Harry Potter is a really well-loved series and I don’t think anything can compare to it. But The Iron Trial is a middle-grade series that features a magic school, magic system, and a trio of friends who remind me of Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s fun and it’s fast-paced and if you try not to compare it to Harry Potter, it’s actually really good!


5. IF YOU LIKE FANGIRL…

fangirlYou might like My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

I think I like My Life Next Door more than I like Fangirl (sorry!). Both books have adorable romances and explore family dynamics. These books both kept me up all night reading, and they left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. The male love interests in these books are some of my favourite contemporary guys ❤


6. IF YOU LIKE ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS…

anna-and-the-french-kissYou might like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.

These are both really light and fluffy contemporary romances. They’re both set in European countries and feature an American female protagonist and a cute male love interest with a British accent. I love both Etienne and Oliver so, so much!


7. IF YOU LIKE TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE…

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-beforeYou might like The Distance Between Us by Kasie West.

Again, these are both cute and fluffy contemporary romances. Both of these novels are page-turners and feature some really cute guys ❤ If you were frustrated by the love triangle in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, you’ll be pleased to hear that The Distance Between Us does not have multiple love interests!


8. IF YOU LIKE CINDER…

cinderYou might like Wonderland by Robert McKay.

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favourite series and what I love most about it is that each book is a sci-fi fairytale retelling. Wonderland is a sci-fi Alice in Wonderland retelling and I was surprised by how interesting the characters were, and how exciting and different the plot was to the original Lewis Carroll story.


9. IF YOU LIKE THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER…

the-perks-of-being-a-wallflowerYou might like The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is written in epistolary form, and I almost felt like Charlie was directly telling me his story. I had the same feeling when I read The Shock of the Fall. Both books are so honest and moving. They also both tackle some mental health issues if you’re into that sort of thing.


10. IF YOU LIKE ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE…

all-the-light-we-cannot-seeYou might like The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan.

I had to include All The Light We Cannot See in this post! Both of these books are prize winners. The Narrow Road To The Deep North won the 2014 Man Booker Prize 2014. Both are WWII historical fiction novels, one set in France and Germany and the other in Japanese Prisoner of War camps.


Do you guys have any recommendations based on the 10 books that I’ve featured today? I’m always looking for new books to read (even though my TBR pile is massive) so let me know your thoughts and opinions!

Review: Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

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Publisher: Poppy
Release date: September 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0316334421
Pages: 248
Goodreads || Book Depository

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide their future. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I have read all of Jennifer E. Smith’s books and they have all been spectacular. Of course, Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between was no exception. Jennifer E. Smith is definitely one of my auto-buy authors and I’ll continue to pick up whatever she releases next.

In Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between, we follow two new college students who are trying to decide whether they should pursue a long distance relationship or break up. They spend one final night together, revisiting places that have meant a lot to them. The whole story takes place within a 12 hour period. This book reminded me a little bit, in concept, of The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi, so if you’re looking for something along a similar vein I would recommend checking that one out.

I didn’t really know how I felt going into the book. It was obvious from the premise of the book that no matter what their choice was, they would be saying goodbye and leaving for opposite coasts of the US by the end of it. I think I held back a little bit at the beginning so that I wouldn’t have my heart broken, but I quickly ended up diving head-first into the story. This story was a lot more complex than I had thought it would be. Going into the book, I expected to Aidan and Clare to visit places around town and recall the fond memories they have of each place and all the experiences they’ve gone through together. I expected them to rediscover or realise how much they love each other and decide to stay together. And that would have been a perfectly good book for me, but what we got in Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between was so much better than my slightly (or very) unoriginal imaginings.

In this book, we begin with Clare and Aidan as a seemingly perfect couple, but as the night progresses we soon realise that their relationship has its flaws. The things they go through as a couple and the problems they have were so relatable and I found myself living inside of these characters. Different aspects of first love and being in a relationship are explored, from the good to the bad, and I thought they were all handled very well. The book not only focuses on love and romantic relationships, but it also explores family and friendship. There’s something that everybody could relate to, whether it’s the struggle to meet parents’ expectations or the pain of leaving your best friend. Everything that happened in the book felt so real to me.

This book has so many great messages. That sometimes things are worth taking a risk for. That “sometimes the hardest things are the ones most worth doing”. That things that are meant to happen will happen. And all of these messages hit me so hard. There were so many scenes, particularly towards the end of the book, that made my heart ache and my eyes tear up. But in addition to the hard hitting messages of the book that almost destroyed my heart, the book also has a lot of funny moments.

I thought the writing in this novel was great. What I appreciated the most about the writing was how seamlessly Jennifer E. Smith was able to integrate stories of the past with the events of the present. I liked that she was able to do that without having to put in obvious flashbacks or use alternating chapters of past and present. The book was easy and comfortable to read. There wasn’t a point where I felt bored or confused. I also loved how simple the writing was – there was nothing flowery about it. Writing doesn’t need to be complex in order to evoke intense emotions and this book is a great example of that.

I connected with both Clare and Aidan. Clare is the practical and organised one in the relationship and Aidan is the spontaneous and romantic one. I saw a lot of myself in Clare. I was always the one who did well in school and was so organised it was almost a hindrance. I could definitely relate to all of Clare worries and thought processes. At the same time, I also connected with Aidan because he has a lot of the qualities that I would want for myself. He’s very friendly and able to talk to almost anyone without having awkward silences. He’s spontaneous and fun but also sentimental. I thought Aidan and Clare were a great couple together and they complemented each other very well. I also loved the side characters that we saw. Stella and Scotty are Clare and Aidan’s best friends and I thought they were such great characters. Scotty provided a lot of comic relief and I loved all of his scenes.

Overall, I thought this was a really great contemporary read. I like that Jennifer E. Smith’s books are not just fluffy romances but contain some serious themes and messages. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight is probably still my favourite book of hers, but every single one of them (including Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between) are definitely worth the read.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books On My YA Contemporary 101 Syllabus

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. I’m really excited about this week’s theme, which is Ten Books On My xxx 101 syllabus. So I’ve chosen YA contemporary books, because it’s my favourite genre and I feel like I’d be able to recommend some really great books from the genre.

I’ve tried to include a variety of themes and contemporary styles, so without further ado… I present to you my YA contemporary syllabus!

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson:
This is one of my favourite books ever! It’s about twins Jude and Noah, who used to be very close but something has torn them apart in recent years. This book is very interesting in the way that it’s written. It’s written from two perspectives, but also from two different timelines. The story is beautiful, the writing is beautiful, and the characters are beautiful too. I’ll Give You The Sun has everything, from family to romance, and also has LGBTQ characters too.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick:
On the surface, this seems like a fluffy contemporary romance. But it’s actually a very complex and layered story, with very likeable and relatable characters. It’s a modern spin on Romeo and Juliet. Our main characters are neighbours but the families are completely different in their appearances and values. If you’re looking for a book with a fantastic romance, as well as an exploration of some deeper issues, this is the one for you. The writing flows so nicely and the pace of the book is just perfect. I have written a review of this book.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:
This is another contemporary romance that explores family. Cath has always done everything with her twin, Wren. But as they start their freshman year of college, Wren decides that she wants to go off on her own. Fangirl is such a fun book, with some serious themes. There is also a great romance that develops in the book. Best of all, I feel like everyone can relate to Cath, who is a fangirl. This book definitely gave me the warm and fuzzy feels.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:
This is a great coming of age book that is written in epistolary form. It follows Charlie through his freshman year of high school, as he makes new friends and discoveries about himself. The fact that the book is written as a series of letters to an anonymous recipient allows us to see Charlie’s most intimate thoughts and feelings. The book explores grief, loss and belonging, and it’s definitely one that hit me really hard. It also has a gay side character.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman:
This is an incredible book about finding love, losing love, and finding yourself and your own voice in the process. Allyson has always been the perfect girl who has done everything her parents have wanted. She meets a mysterious boy named Willem on her trip around Europe. They end up going on a one day trip to Paris but he randomly disappears the next day. Allyson then has to figure out what went wrong, and in the process, ends up discovering more about herself and the type of person she wants to be. This book was so moving and touched me in so many different ways. I was constantly rooting for the characters and those are the best books to me.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson:
This is fun, summery book about friendship and finding yourself. Emily has always kind of been in the shadows of her best friend, Sloane, who is spontaneous and interesting. But one day Sloane goes missing and leaves Emily with a list of things she should do for the summer. Emily starts doing the things on the list in the hopes of it being able to lead her back to Sloane. In the process, she forms new friendships and relationships, and learns about who she is independent of Sloane. This is a fast-paced book that also touches your heart.

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli:
This is an incredibly adorable book with a serious message. Simon has been emailing a mysterious boy called Blue, who goes to his school. Neither of them have come out as gay yet, but as they continue talking to each other, they gain the courage to come out to their family and friends. Throw in some subplots and some interesting characters we’ve got ourselves a fun and adorable story. If you’re looking for something that is light-hearted but still contains important messages, I think Simon is for you.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan:
This is a much darker and serious LGBTQ book than Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Told from the perspective of a generation of gay men lost to AIDS, we follow 4 different pairs of gay boys, as they go through their ordinary lives. It explores homophobia and what it means to be gay. This book affected me so much and I think it’s definitely a must-read for all teens and young adults out there. And I have a review for this.

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The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith:
Hadley is travelling to London to attend her dad’s wedding to a woman she has never met. She meets a British boy, Oliver, at the airport and they spend the whole flight getting to know each other. They lose each other when they arrive in London, but you never know what can happen when you’re in love. This isn’t just a fluffy romance. It also has a family element to it. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming. Jennifer E. Smith is a master at conveying emotions – I felt everything that Hadley was feeling in the book. This book is very easy to read and definitely a page turner.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins:
I love all of Stephanie Perkins’ books but Isla and the Happily Ever After is my favourite of the three. I love Isla and Josh. Josh is romantic and sweet, and who doesn’t love an artist who is able to draw you pretty, pretty things? This book is set not only in Paris, but also New York and Barcelona, and it takes you on a romantic adventure.


I wish I could’ve included more on this list because I have so many contemporary favourites! What are your top YA contemporaries?