Did you have Frosted Grumpy Flakes for breakfast?”
“No.”
“Captain Cranky Crunch?

We Are the Goldens | Dana Reinhardt

I recognized those words were not your own. I looked it up later on PretentiousQuotations.com or whatever, and there it was.

We Are the Goldens | Dana Reinhardt

Why does the devil always need an advocate? Don’t you think he can argue things for himself?

We Are the Goldens | Dana Reinhardt

Goodreads | Amazon

Nell Golden and her sister Layla have always been close. So close, in fact, that when they were little, Nell thought they shared the name Nellayla. But now that they’re in high school, Layla in her junior year and Nell just starting her freshman year, they’ve begun to drift apart. Or, more accurately, Layla has begun to push Nell away.

Rumors fly around the school every year that Mr. B, the beloved art teacher, is having a fling with a student. This year, that rumor happens to involve Layla. She denies it up and down. There are always rumors. They’re never true. So they ran into each other at an art museum – he’s an art teacher, it makes sense that he’d be at an art museum. They didn’t plan to hang out. Nothing weird is going on. But then Nell finds the two video chatting one night, and she has absolutely no idea what to do.

We Are the Goldens is written like a letter from Nell to Layla, explaining her rationale for her decisions. She describes so perfectly her feelings about the situation and how it correlates to what’s going on in her own life. And from Nell’s perspective, Layla is out of control.

From my perspective, Layla is a horrible role model. She uses and abuses Nell’s love and trust to have Nell lie for her, defend her, keep her secrets. So that Nell will stand by as Layla self-destructs. Suffice it to say, I did not care for Layla at all. She never acts like a particularly good sister, and it’s hard to see why Nell adores her so much. We’re told that they were inseparable growing up, but it’s hard to connect that to the manipulative older sister we’re presented with in the book.

In addition to all the problems with Layla and the stress of having to keep this terrible secret, Nell is dealing with the confusing high school dating scene and trying to separate her own interests from those of her sister. And this was the part of the story that I liked. I’ll be honest. I couldn’t stand Layla. It was so obvious, despite Nell’s protests, that Nell cared for her sister much more than her sister cared for her. But Nell’s other relationships, like the one with her parents, or the one with her best friend Felix… those were the ones that kept me reading.

To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to say much else. Just that the ending was very ambiguous, and I would have preferred a concrete ending. I wanted to know what happened with Layla, what happened with Mr. B, what happened with Felix. After learning so much about these characters, I felt cheated that I didn’t find out how everything worked out in the end.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free ARC.

Final rating: 

[also posted here]

ARC review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: January 2, 2012
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

Alright, so I had this one on my to-read shelf for quite a while, but I wasn’t interested enough to buy it. Along comes Netgalley, offering me a free copy as a promotion for Jennifer E. Smith’s next book… and I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy it.

Hadley is headed to London for her father’s second marriage – to a woman she’s never met, no less. She’s not looking forward to it and wouldn’t even have gone if her mother hadn’t insisted that she’d regret it if she didn’t. So she packs up, arrives at the airport, goes through security, and misses her plane. By four minutes. Her dreaded “vacation” just got even worse. The airline is nice and cooperative, though, and puts her on the next flight to London, leaving three hours later. The problem? Apparently Hadley has given herself the absolute minimum amount of time possible between landing at Heathrow, getting ready at the hotel, and getting to the wedding. This new flight, three hours later, will barely get her to the church on time, even if she doesn’t stop to get ready. So, alright, I get it. She doesn’t want to go to the wedding. But she’s going, so why make it so stressful and hard on herself? I don’t know about you, but maybe one or two flights I’ve ever been on have left on time. Most have been delayed a least a little, and some have been delayed several hours. One was delayed a whole day, but that’s another story. What I’m getting at is that if you have a huge occasion that you need to be present for, why are you leaving so much to chance? Yes, this book is about fate. But this is just unrealistic.

Anyway, while waiting in the crowded airport terminal, she attempts to get a nearby woman to watch her suitcase. This, as we all know, is completely against the airport rules, though typically people don’t think too much of it. The woman declines, a cute British guy nearby offers to watch it, and Hadley says no thanks. She’ll just take her suitcase with her. Well, much to her dismay, the cute British guy follows her around until she realizes that he’s a cute British guy, and then they hit it off. His name is Oliver. He’s headed to London too. They’ll be sitting in the same row. Hadley and Oliver become fast friends. Some might say that they fall in love, given the name of the book, but I would beg to differ. They’re attracted to and intrigued by each other. It’s as simple as that.

Overall, it’s a cute premise. I’m a sucker for cute British boys and whirlwind romances, so I should have been all over this one. But I really wasn’t. It’s hard to say what it was that I disliked.

I mean, the third person narration was a little off-putting. In a story like this, where so much is focused on the character’s feelings and so little is focused on what’s happening around them, third-person narration seems a little silly. With first-person narration, I might have felt a little more connected to Hadley.

I actually didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. Hadley frustrated me and came across as a spoiled brat. She couldn’t just let her dad be happy, even if she disapproved of the marriage.  Oliver was cute, but I couldn’t help but feel like he was trying too hard to force a connection, and I didn’t like how he dodged so many of Hadley’s questions about his life. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was supposed to feel sorry for Hadley’s dad because he left his wife and child for a younger woman. Obviously they’re going to have some issues with that and asking them to happily accept your new life is going a little far. And Hadley’s mom – setting such a horrible example of how to act when you’re in a relationship!

The ending felt very rushed after so much time was spent on every detail of every conversation Hadley and Oliver had in the airport, on the plane, etc. When you consider that the entirety of the book takes place over a day, everything feels rushed.

All in all, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was just kind of… there. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I was really kind of indifferent to it.

Final rating: 2.5/5, rounded up to 3.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy.

Final rating: ★★1/2

[also posted here (with a bit more detail and spoilers)]